The Ubiquitous Arm Dangle

by Jackie Hennessey
Originally Published: 

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.

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