What are Man Hands?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

In the "Bizarro Jerry" episode of the sitcom Seinfeld, comedian Jerry Seinfeld begins dating a beautiful blonde model named Jillian. Jerry's best friend George takes advantage of the situation in order to gain access to an exclusive club for supermodels. Much to George's dismay, Jerry eventually breaks off his relationship with Jillian, telling her he would rather remain "just friends." His reason for the sudden loss of interest: she had man hands.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

The episode was inspired by a writer's real life experiences with a woman who had exceptionally large hands and was extremely self-conscious about them. She referred to them as her "farm hands", but this was changed to man hands in the finished script. A male stand-in provided the masculine-looking hands during close-up shots, while the actress portraying Jillian kept her own hands out of as many scenes as possible.

The problem with a woman having man hands, at least according to Jerry, was the disturbing mix of femininity and masculinity. Jillian's flirtatious behavior and other feminine gestures were constantly marred by the appearance of her clearly masculine hands. As much as Jerry wanted to view Jillian as an attractive date, the sight of her oversized man hands routinely bothered him. Jillian herself appeared unaware of the size and masculine qualities of her hands, but Jerry and the television audience clearly saw a man's thick hands.

Hand sizes for both sexes are largely a matter of genetics, although people who perform heavy manual labor often do develop exceptionally large or calloused hands. The ideal hand size for a woman is routinely smaller than for a man, but a tall or heavy-framed woman could indeed have larger, more masculine hands. A smaller-than-average man could also have more feminine hand proportions. Some people's hands and feet grow disproportionately, which means a thin person could have exceptionally large hands. Finger sizes and shapes also vary widely from hand to hand, from long thin fingers to short, stubby ones.

While Jerry's experience with man hands may have been exaggerated for comic effect, some women may indeed feel self-conscious about having large, masculine hands, while men may have self-esteem issues over having more delicate-looking hands instead of the traditional oversized and calloused hands of a working man. The lesson Jerry learned the hard way was not to judge a person by a single physical characteristic.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments


@anon125310: I'm sorry for that. My heart goes out to you. Best of luck to you. Don't let people get you down. You are who you are and it's beautiful.


@Sunny27 -I think that you can hide the size of your hands by wearing longer sleeve tops in which the sleeves go beyond the wrist that way it will make your hands look smaller because the top is actually longer.

But really the right guy is out there and he won’t care about your hands. So don’t worry about it.


@BrickBack - That is so true. When someone gets to know you on the inside the manly hands won’t matter.

Remember there are always people out there that have worse situations than that to worry about and probably wish that having manly hands is all they had to worry about.

It is like when my kids start to complain that they are tired when we go to an amusement park and don’t want to walk anymore, I tell them that there are a lot of people in wheelchairs that wish they could have their problem of having tired legs. After that my kids don’t complain.

So I guess it is just a change in perspective and the right guy will appear.


@Anon125310- I am sorry to hear that but someone that really cares about you will not care about the size of your hands. They will really worry more about your heart and the type of spirit you have.

Really your looks fade over time so if someone really loves you they won’t care about something like that. They may actually find your manly hands endearing because you are unique. Hang in there you will find someone that is right for you.


i am a woman with really large, calloused hands. i am 37 and i have never had a boyfriend because men are always scared off by my butch hands. even typing this is a challenge i have tried dating men with feminine hands, because they might understand my plight, but they don't seem to find me attractive.

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