What Your Wrist Says About You

Dear Truck Stop Janitor,

I was walking by as you authoritatively lectured to the couple you had cornered in the hallway. You had your hand raised, with your middle finger and thumb bent toward each other, separated by a tiny gap.

You confidently explained that if the two fingers don’t touch, it means you are overweight. “Too skinny,” you said, gesturing toward the slightly overweight woman. “That’s what you are – too skinny.”

The woman laughed nervously and said she didn’t think so as they edged past you and hurried away. My daughter and I then entered the bathroom. I turned to her and asked, “Who can’t touch their middle finger with their thumb?”

“I don’t know,” she replied, demonstrating that she could. “Maybe I could imagine a really, really fat person being so overweight they couldn’t bend their fingers, but…”

I was ready to write you off as an ignorant fool but I had a hard time imagining someone being quite that bad so I continued to ponder it until I figured it out (I think).

You were referring to the body type test that has you wrap your middle finger and thumb around your wrist. If the two overlap, you have a small bone structure. If they just touch, medium. If they don’t touch at all, large. It’s a good test because the wrist is arguably the boniest part of your body. It’s chosen precisely because you don’t put on weight there. At least, not until you are so overweight no one would need to check your wrist to see it.

My fingers have always overlapped. By a lot. I’m a couple of pounds under being considered overweight, according to BMI. But I could put on 40 pounds and my fingers would still overlap. In fact, just before I gave birth, with 40 extra pounds and considerable water retention, they did so.

My daughter, on the other hand, hasn’t been able to touch those fingers around her wrist for a couple of years now. Athletically built, no one would dare call her overweight. She just inherited the Eastern European large bone structure of her father.

So, dude, you were spouting nonsense. My husband says that at least you were paying attention to something. I’d argue you weren’t paying much attention at all since you had it wrong. But you gave me a nice puzzle to solve, so for that, I thank you.


Small-wristed woman passing by