The Human Condition: Strong Arms

She pulled her tiny human closer, her strong arms encompassing the small torso, so close she could feel her babe’s breath moving slowly in and out of her little body. Asleep at last.

In that moment she noticed her strong arms. She noticed the almost magical ability her arms possessed to hold her little one gently, yet firmly in place for long enough to impose sleep.

They were the same arms that had held her babe for the first time, that twisted and contorted to guide the same child to the breast for sustenance in the early days. They carried groceries, distributed warm mum hugs and carried out countless household jobs every day. She knew that those arms had an important, a critical role in her family. She also knew that wasn’t the story she told herself about her arms.

The babe let out a gentle snore and she noticed her arms had done the job. The babe was soundly, safely asleep. She gently crept out of the bed ensuring she didn’t wake the sleeping infant.

Her eyes met her arms in the harsh light of the bathroom mirror.

“Fat.” Was the first word that came to mind as she examined her arms with particular emphasis on the fatty tissue connecting her arms to her torso in the mirror. She lifted her right arm and shook it just a little. The fat underneath her arm wobbled and she tried to flex the muscle reminiscing younger days.

In the place of bulging muscle was something that seemed foreign each time she witnessed it. Her skin wrapped around a jiggly, dimpled substance that now appeared to be called her upper arm.

“Tuck shop lady arms” she recalled some celebrity berating a reality TV star.

Her eyeballs met the mirror “I have tuck shop lady arms” she silently told herself.

She was no dummy. She knew this stuff was born of magazines, celebrity culture, Instagram, modern expectations gone wild. She knew that real women had parts that wiggled and jiggled.

Yet she couldn’t help but feel insecure as the fat jiggled and her once slim body defied her expectations of appearance. She had become ‘one of them’ — the middle-aged mums — “refrigerators” as her own father had once described them.

She wondered what she would do about it. A middle finger salute? Or perhaps starve herself for enough days to dissolve the offending flab??

She decided to focus on something else. Her strength. The ability of her arms to provide safe refuge for those she cared for most deeply. She decided in that moment that her arms would be defined as strong — not flabby, dimpled nor fat.

And her strong arms obeyed and moved beside her as she lived to conquer another day.

Originally published on Medium 24 January 2019



Humans are a weird bunch. I think a lot about how and why I/we act, why we say the things we do, why we run or stand still. The Human Condition Project is not a particularly original idea however it does explore my individual take on the way that humans function (and don’t).  Through this project I will attempt to expose the little nuances that make us human and not to fix but to understand those things that make our hearts beat. #thehumancondition

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