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The Curse Of The Bat-Wing Arm


My grandma had bat-wing arms. Her arm jiggle fascinated us kids. My cousin Rachel would reach across Granny’s corset-clad girth, tap the wrinkled drape of skin, and shriek with half-delight, half-horror as the bat wing came to life.

Granny endured this with what seemed like good humor, and I was way into adulthood before I wondered why she didn’t clobber the first child who attempted such ignominy.

Bat-wings are genetically programmed, and I  seem to belong to the same gene pool as the zaftic model for Rubens’ Andromeda paintings. My best friend’s genes are more upper arm friendly. At her niece’s recent wedding, she wrapped her slender 62-year-old body in a green strapless gown, displaying smooth, well-toned arms that would not shame a 30 year old. She’s a regular at her gym, but still….

I’m better off than Granny was at my age, having spent years doing weights, push-ups  and Pilates. Nevertheless, I detect an incipient jiggle, and I’m facing a crepey-limbs future with all the aplomb of a homesteader watching a strip mall rise where her garden used to be.

Arm flab says decrepitude in a way no other body feature does. Droopy breasts — there’s an app for that (see: brassieres), and droopy cheeks and eyelids can be plumped with Juvederm. Arm flab won’t be quick-fixed. With arm flab, it’s going to be long sleeves forever — or submitting to brachioplasty, a surgical procedure that modifies upper arm wiggle. Unfortunately, the operation can leave a nasty scar that might rival the bat-wing itself.


Brachioplasty can be a good idea after significant weight loss, or if loose skin keeps causing rashes as it brushes relentlessly against your torso. Otherwise, unless you are a person of unlimited wealth and a lunatic desire to cosmetically alter your entire body, you’d be wise to leave your arms alone.  Bat wings are a heartbreak, but it’s hard to imagine they’d be a deal-breaker in the dating game, that a potential partner would say, “she’s smart, fun, a marvelous conversationalist, and great in bed, but I can’t deal with the flab on the underside of her arms.”


You WILL have bat-wing arms – if not now, by the time you’re 65. Here’s more bad news: it doesn’t matter if you’re razor-thin or chubby, female or male; age-related arm flab is an equal opportunity affliction.

The good news is that if you’re willing to work hard you can minimize the problem. You might try the excellent exercise regime of the First Lady, whose toned arms are an inspiration to mid-life women everywhere, even those who disavow her husband’s policies. NOTE: These exercises will not work miracles. If you already have a dangle of skin flab, no exercise will make it disappear completely.

As for limiting oneself to long sleeves only — blouses, dresses, sweaters, t-shirts, coats, jackets, bathrobes, beach robes — I’m a coward, but you don’t have to be. Life is good. Get out there! Reach up, up, up, and let the breeze gently rustle those skin folds! Bat-Wing Power!

Note: A version of this blog post first appeared in the Huffington Post. See:

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'The Curse Of The Bat-Wing Arm' have 14 comments

  1. December 15, 2016 @ 10:38 am Sienna

    Old Lady — First, to us 60-plus gals, you aren’t an old lady. We do thank you for your comment, though! It’s a big help at any age to keep the arms working – toning for strength as well as a youthful appearance.

  2. December 11, 2016 @ 9:56 pm Old lady

    Prevention of bat wings in your 50-60 is to use heavy weights for the biceps & triceps in your 40’s regularly. I have little jiggle in triceps, but no bat wings🏃🏿‍♀️. in my late 50’s I notice I have to work the triceps more often than the biceps. If I can add the core as well. That area gets targeted work too!!

  3. January 26, 2015 @ 2:11 pm frankie

    And yes, it can be a centre of focus for some of us men. I’m

  4. January 26, 2015 @ 2:07 pm frankie

    “God is a WOMAN” and I’m Frankie here in British Columbia, Canada. I actually prefer women that have loose skin on their arms (all over actually). I always have and I’m 46 yrs years old, actually 47 this year 2015.

  5. July 20, 2014 @ 4:22 pm Melinda

    I see a lot of women with this problem wearing sleeveless blouses. What are they thinking? I have’t been out in public with bare upper arms since I was 22. I don’t want to be an object of young people’s ridicule.

  6. June 11, 2013 @ 10:10 am Sienna

    Michelle, I have to agree. Women fear that bat wings will chase men away, but bat wings are definitely far from being a focus of male attention.

  7. May 23, 2013 @ 12:34 am Michelle

    I’ve had this problem since I was about 40. I don’t think it matters to men. It’s not the part of your anatomy they’re focusing on.

  8. May 15, 2013 @ 7:49 am Elana

    Nothing helps.

  9. April 22, 2013 @ 12:08 pm Chelsea

    Body image is killing us. Look at European women – they go to topless beaches and walk around proudly even if they’re 75. I want a man who likes my body as it is because he knows his isn’t perfect either. Too many old geezers want thirty year olds and guess what, my body is just as good as some of theirs!

  10. April 22, 2013 @ 11:05 am Percy

    If a woman wears appropriate clothing in public the batwings won’t matter in the bedroom. By the way, they are also called bingo arms.

  11. April 22, 2013 @ 11:00 am Tracey

    I’m not droopy-armed yet, but like you, Sienna, I’m getting there. I think you’re right about it being genetic.

  12. April 22, 2013 @ 8:15 am WildTurkey

    You ladies have to listen to Sienna. No man in his right mind is going to dis a woman because she has some extra skin on her under arms. That is, if everything else is delightful. lol

  13. April 21, 2013 @ 11:28 am Katrina

    I guess I should say that I’m glad someone else has this problem. I live near the beach (Atlantic) and I can no longer take off my beach top. I’m 58.

  14. April 21, 2013 @ 7:18 am Polyanna

    I spend so much time and money on my face and hair and nails, and yet I have these awful arms. Why, why, why?

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