A Crisis of Hands

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One of life’s many struggles is learning to become comfortable with your body–a body you didn’t choose.

We’ve all looked in the mirror and wanted to change something. For Rumpus contributor Melissa Febos, it was her hands. Febos says:

They gave me away. Like bar codes or tree rings, and yes, fingerprints – they were maps that led to the truth of me – that I was no flower, no petaled thing. I was not a ballerina; I was a third baseman. I was a puller, a pusher, a runner, a climber, a grabber. I used my hands; they were marked by things, and left marks. They betrayed my desire to be the kind of girl I had learned I should be. And, more quietly, they betrayed my own inner softness, which was also wide and long and fast, but not calloused – instead tender as a wound.

Melissa Febos’s lyrical essay “My big, strong, manly hands” transcends her hands crisis and becomes a poetic meditation on identity and embracing the body: the good, the bad, and the ugly.


Pat Johnson is currently working on his master’s in Fiction Writing at San Francisco State University, and is the owner and editor of the satirical news website The New Porker. When Pat’s not reading or writing he’s likely squeezing a lime into a Tecate and headed to the dance floor. He also creates short films, documentaries, and sketch comedies. Pat is completing his first novel, The Virgin and Marilyn Monroe, and writing a book of Creative Non-Fiction short stories. More from this author →