The Ubiquitous Arm Dangle

We’re mothers. Our bodies have been through hell in a hand basket. (Not to mention many pairs of God-forsaken netted hospital panties.) Thankfully, over time, we reach a place where we feel comfortable with our bodies. And we exercise to maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle.

Some run.

Some walk.

Others do Pilates or Yoga.

We try to cut back on crap food, then sneak in a BLT here and there. We sign up for AND attend exercise classes.

Lord knows we try.

But what, may I ask, is up with the Arm Dangle? Oh, yes, the ubiquitous Arm Dangle. You know, that abundance of flab on the inner arm? Just hold up your arm, grab the flesh underneath and give it a good tug. (Madonna and bikini models, you can stop reading right now before I snap. This obviously does not apply to you.)

I’m only 42. I didn’t realize that I’d be so young when I’d have an Arm Dangle. No, I thought I would be 88 when my arms would wave along with me. I’d have thin white hair and teach stretching at the senior center. Every time I’d lift my arm, it would jiggle. And all the other blue-hairs would lift their Arm Dangles along with me.

It was not until I recently saw a picture of myself on Facebook and screamed at the monitor, “Who is the chick on the right with the huge flabby arm? No, really, whose arm is that? For the love of the Golden Girls, please tell me there’s something wrong this picture!”

Then I saw another picture, and yet another, with generous mounds of pale flesh stretching past my sleeveless blouse, looking like they were headed out to sea.

“Son of a…. THAT IS ME!”

I will admit I like to eat. Always have, always will. But I exercise on a regular basis too. And it used to work! Now, I wake up and feel bloated if I drink too much water.

Someone please tell me what’s happening to my body? And WHY is it necessary for extra flab to gravitate to this random (but oh so obvious) part of my body? Especially in the summer? Just when cute sleeveless tops are finally on sale?

Why is it that no matter how much we work out, how careful we are about the food we eat, it’s inevitable that the camera captures this particular part of our body in such a way that it looks like both arms are ready to set sail? And no matter how hard we try to crop the photo, these repulsive mounds of useless flesh stretch on and on and on, beyond the crop line?

Flash back 1,800 years ago. Say I’m wandering the wilderness with my baby wrapped in animal skin, I can understand the use for this excess flab. Subsisting on nothing but berries and bark, that extra body fat could come in handy on day four of an involuntary fast. I could live off of it for several days, weeks even.

But what purpose does it serve now?

I recently tried a week-long tone up routine. I was planking like a fool. And I was pretty proud of myself. Then in yet another picture, I caught a glimpse of my winged friends.

After 42 years, I finally “get” why my grandmother refuses to wear a tank top without a blouse pulled over it.

Does this mean the Arm Dangle is here to stay? I don’t know, but I refuse to live in captivity. There are way too many colorful tank tops and sleeveless dresses in my closet that deserve to be worn. I’m just not ready to wave a jiggly goodbye just yet.

About the writer

Having worked full-time, part-time, and been a stay-at-home mom too, Jackie sees motherhood from a variety of angles. And thankfully, with a sense of humor. Jackie blogs about her take on motherhood at Venting Sessions and writes about it in her award-winning book, How to Spread Sanity on a Cracker.


Mikki Carnevale 2 years ago

OH and my daughters call them my angel wings..and Pizza dough, of course… grrr

Mikki Carnevale 2 years ago

My arm dangle has it's own zip code. Don't sweat it, this IS as good as it gets!! LOL

lisa 2 years ago

We call them “Hello Ethel”s. 😉

I Love You Often 2 years ago

Introduce 3/4 length sleeves to push up bra…they will be friends for life.

Jackie Hennessey 2 years ago

These tips, quips and comments are hysterical. You ladies MADE my week with all your comment love. Thank you! And thank you, Jill, for allowing me to vent on your fabulous blog! It was such an honor to be a guest blogger again! xxoo

Sharon – 2 years ago

Arm Jingle-Jangle is right up there with chin hair… comes from no-where and stays like bad company. Love your post. Love how you find humor in the unspeakable. Love you!

Jamie 2 years ago

I am not in my 40’s so maybe I cannot quite compare to you BUT do you do tricep kickbacks, chair dips or anything of that sort? bc I would exercise and exercise and my arms would still be soft there. it was not until I began Les Mills Pump that they started to harden. maybe it is something to consider. lifting won’t bulk you, like everyone thinks. great blog btw. you are very expressive!

Soria Decorating Memories 2 years ago

Join the club!

Lindsey 2 years ago

Batwings suck, truly they do. But here’s the gig: I lived in West Africa for 2 years as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Upper arm flab did not exist, even if they had a little bit of junk in the trunk. Those ladies hauled babies on their backs, water containers on their heads, hauled firewood for miles, and did it every day starting when they were 5 years old. Their arms were RIPPED and even the little old ladies had incredible upper arms. Sadly, almost none of us (myself included) use our upper bodies as much as they were meant to be used. I’m not saying that the West African female lifestyle is all that great…. just that they move a lot of heavy weight with their arms and boy it shows. I think I’m going to go use those 10 lb weights I have in the kitchen right now…. I do arm raises while waiting for the microwave.

Brad T. O’Brien 2 years ago

Lady wings

Ariana 2 years ago

One year my mother gave me all of her short sleeved shirts, she said she was never going to wear one again, because of the dangle. I was around 30 at the time, and was quite sure it wouldn’t happen to me. 18 years later, I’ve watched my dangle go up and down in size over the last several years, but never disappear. I still refuse to give up on tank tops, but as I live on the Oregon Coast, I almost never get the opportunity to wear one anyway.

Chelley Martinka 2 years ago

You have some sexy arm dangle, my dear <3 Love your honesty… and you, of course!

    Kip 1 year ago

    Try putting a small polliw or folded towel underneath your back support zone and gently press into it while doing baby back and STAY LONG with your spine while you breathe.You may be flexing forward a bit with your brace. Don’t do dying bug AT ALL if you can’t hold a baby back without pain.If increasing intra abdominal pressure continues to aggravate you should stop or proceed with extreme caution especially if the increased pressure causes any symptoms to radiate down your leg.drh

Carla 2 years ago

I had a wonderful friend in college who had a wonderful appreciation for a woman’s body. He was especially fond of the Arm Dangle =) Bless his heart!

Gingersnap 2 years ago

LOL Those are my wings. I’m ready for take off. (Please refer to this NSFW video:

momofeveryone 2 years ago

on my mothers side of the family our last name is Laconi, so we dubbed these bad boys ‘the laconi arms’. i have a matching set unfortunatly! as do allllll the female relatives!

Jackie Hennessey 2 years ago

You guys are the BEST. Arm jiggle? Arm jowls? Kimona arms? Lunch Lady Arms?!! ALL hilarious. I am dying over here! Thanks so much for all your comments, tips and giggles! And by the way, I now try to “pose” with my hand on my hip to help minimize the dangling. xxoo

    Sarah Barrett 2 years ago

    My very Jewish grandma and her friends used to call them Hadassa arms. Is that offensive?? Their words, not mine! I always say even after I stop waving goodbye, my arm isn’t done waving…back to the push ups! Thanks for the laughs!!

watto_woman 2 years ago

Ah, the dreaded Bingo Wings. The flabby creatures that assert their presence with distressing regularity. I’m sure my butt is every bit as jiggly, but I can’t see that when I walk so I have the luxury of ignorance.

Jennifer / Multiple Realities Blog 2 years ago

Jackie, I tried doing the plank, too! Then I thought, “to hell with this!”, went to Old Navy, and got some lightweight 3/4 length sleeved tops. Perfect!

Lee A 2 years ago

I feel your pain I really do. I have the arm dangle as well.

Kristen Mae at Abandoning Pretense 2 years ago

I only pose a certain way in the mirror so that the arm flap doesn’t show. *DENIAL*

Lisa Benson 2 years ago

A weighted hola hoop!!!

Debbie 2 years ago

Thanks for sharing Jackie. Yes, I do know what your talking about and it doesn not matter how much you weight. It has something to do with losing muscle tone, because of hormones.

I have been lifting a 10 pound weight every day for (one for both arms) at least 5 minutes, somedays more like 10. It is helping.

Yes, i have had to make some adjustment in my wardrobe. Tank tops are for home and if I leave home a light blouse goes over the top.

Just wait, you need to get ahead of the game and go get a hola hoop and start practicing to keep the waist line in check. The jello starts to build up there too.

Heather @ Kraus House Mom 2 years ago

I call them teacher arms and I am desperately trying to get rid of them.

grownandflown 2 years ago

Once I heard the phrase “kimona arms,” I never saw my arms in quite the same way. Yes, the dangles, got ’em.

Heather 2 years ago

hahaha…I know EXACTLY!!! I HATE my arm jiggle! I do every arm exercise I can find and still I have the asshole jiggle!!! Makes me NUTS! I’m not into plastic surgery at all…but if I were to ever in my life have any kind..instead of a tummy tuck or boob job…I would get an arm jiggle removal thing! I don’t even know what that is called….but I would do it! 😉

    Shannon 2 years ago

    I dream of having arm jiggle surgery. Not that I’d ever do it, but it’s my dream.

    Every exercise one can fathom, I do on a regular basis. I’m slim and in great shape, but the flabby arms won’t get the hell off me!

Thekitchwitch 2 years ago


I call those suckers Lunch Lady Arms.

And I have them. I waved goodbye to my daughter on the first day of kindergarten and my LLA flapped in the wind so hard they startled me.

sheri 2 years ago

Jackie! You are hilarious!

E. Ohland 2 years ago

My teenaged son calls it my arm jowls. Mind you, I’ve reduced those puppies by almost 3 inches over the last two years but they still dangle regardless of 60+ lbs weight loss and so many arm workouts that I’ve lost count! Middle age is not for the feint-hearted!

Amanda 2 years ago

Great post! That arm jiggle is a beast!


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