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My mom tells me stories of my great-grandmother’s hands. They were a point of pride for her, a source of beauty, and she took painstaking care to make sure that her nails were always shaped, trimmed, and polished. For wrinkles, she used fragrant hand creams, and for color she painted the tips of her nails with a delicate white. I heard all these stories growing up of beautiful hands and fingers and wrists, of gentle curves and lifts and poise.

Later, I did ballet. I remember watching my dance teacher’s hands in the mirror, seeing the way that her fingers bent to create pictures out of lines, stories out of every curve. I would will my hands to do the same, spend hours in front of my reflection and copy the movements of my teacher. I wanted nothing more than to capture the beauty she so exquisitely painted. Yet, I could not. 


White nails against pink flowers
Photo by Tiko Giorgadze from Unsplash

My hands have never been a big point of pride for me. In fact, they have been one of my great sources of insecurity (among many). On one hand, I hate to speak on insecurities. Personally, I have too many, so many that to list them out would be a great accomplishment. Furthermore, my insecurities do not deserve my time or words. They do not deserve eloquence or worry. Insecurities are often our way of dealing with imperfections- but what is the problem with being human? 

I have clubbed thumbs, also known as brachydactyly type D, and often referred to in general conversation as “toe thumbs.” Absolutely delightful. It is an inherited trait in which the end of the bones of the thumb is shortened with a wider nail bed, and it is completely harmless. Physically, they work just fine.

Playing the piano is a little bit more difficult than it would be if I had longer, daintier digits, and sometimes texting can be quite the mission. However, the main problem is how they appear aesthetically. I used to feel incredibly self-conscious about them. I avoided showing them in pictures and I felt extremely embarrassed every time I visited a nail salon. When I danced, I felt like the line of my fingers was stunted, and I felt insecure every time I gave a “thumbs up” in class.


Photo of people at work putting their hands on top of each other
Photo by fauxels from Pexels

Even now, I still struggle with insecurity. I often wish that I had beautiful fingers and that I could paint my thumbs or get acrylics without it looking incredibly jarring, however I also have learned to see the beauty in the little imperfections that make us human. Firstly, I am incredibly blessed to have been born healthy. My thumbs might be a little shorter and stouter than most, but they work. They have been with me from the beginning, and I hope to see them to the end.

I think it is so important to recognize our little imperfections and insecurities and realize that these are the things that really make us beautiful. Do not dwell on them, but you should celebrate them. Your fingers may not be beautiful- that’s okay. Maybe one of your shoulders naturally rests higher than the other- that’s okay.


holding hands at sunset
Photo by Valentin Antonucci from Unsplash

There is something so beautiful about being alive, about having the ability to smile and laugh and feel the sun and the air. So, I love my clubbed thumbs. I might just call them cute. Love the little things- you are beautiful and you are imperfect and those two words are one and the same. 

Mallory Wells is a sophomore studying psychology at the University of Kansas. In her free time, she loves to spend time with friends and family, listen to music from her favorite artists, and go on nature walks.
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