The Right to Bare Arms – and Do it Fearlessly


Well, my friends, Memorial weekend has come and gone and we all know what that means – the “unofficial” start of the Summer season! And with Summer comes the rising temperatures! With rising temperatures comes the dilemma that we women (and quite possibly a few men) have been dealing with since time unknown! To go sleeveless or not to go sleeveless?! That is the question!

Before I lost weight, I spent most of my Summers covering up my arms, much like my mother before me. Though in the year just before my surgery, I came to a great “self-acceptance” revelation and decided that everyone who looked at me knew I was overweight and hiding my arms away wasn’t fooling anybody! So, why was I torturing myself in the dog days’ heat?! Thus, I went out, bought the adorable sleeveless tops I’d been lusting after, and wore them proudly!

Then I had my surgery. Now I had these nice thin arms. But, with the thinness, the surgery and quick weight loss brought its own issues. Many of you probably have already heard about the loose skin that plagues people who’ve had weight loss surgery or have lost weight rapidly by some other means. Well, guess where one of my worst spots for loose skin happened to be? You got it – my upper arms. Granted, my loose skin issues are mild compared to some people who have lost hundreds of pounds, but they’re still my issues and I still have to deal with them.

However, the first year or so, I will admit, they did not bother me. I was proud of my arms – loose skin and all! I had worked hard for those arms! I was eating right, working out (still am!). And though the bottom of my arms had loose skin, there was some real definition on the top from my workouts. (still is!) So, I wore my sleeveless tops and dresses proudly! Nooooo problem.

Now it’s been almost three years since my surgery. I’m down 93 lbs. and kept that weight off and continue to stick to my regimen. But, for some reason in the last year or so I have become very self-conscious about my upper arms once again. (The other loose skin area that I’m super self-conscious about? My neck! Does anybody want to donate a face lift to a needy 51 yr. old?!)

Here’s the rub – because of my fibromyalgia, I am also incredibly temperature sensitive. When I’m cold I’m VERY cold and when I’m hot I’m VERY hot. Somehow I had to find a way to make peace with sleeveless tops and dresses. Thank goodness all it took was a bit of fashion knowledge and not a single sleeveless item had to go into the give-away pile!

It’s really just a matter of color and light – a concept we’ve all used to some extent for most of our lives. What woman hasn’t used the idea of wearing black to make herself appear smaller or thinner?! We all have at some point, I’d wager! That’s the same basic rule we’re going to use for our arms – but, kind of in reverse.

Our eyes are automatically drawn to light and bright colors before dark, and patterns before solids. They jump forward in our vision. Whereas dark colors recede. That’s where the idea of wearing black to look thinner comes from. Whatever body part you put the dark color on is going to recede from the observers vision and be less noticeable.

In this case we want something that’s unclothed to be less noticeable, so how do we go about that? We work with the item it’s closest to – your top – whether that be a shirt or a dress, whatever. In this post, for simplicity’s sake I’m going to work with shirts. Tank tops to be precise.

If I wear a dark tank top, as I’m doing in this photo – navy blue, actually – my torso is going to recede making the things around it and next to it, namely my pale, wobbly upper arms, come to the forefront. That’s exactly what we don’t want!

Can you believe this is WITH using self-tanner EVERY day?!

The eyes are drawn to pattern before dark. If, by chance, you have a dark top with a pattern on it that has some light influences, this will improve the situation. Still not the best case scenario, but definitely better.

Dark with a pattern that has some light influence, better, but we can do better yet

So, what do we really want? We want something that will draw the eye to it before it goes to our arms – we want something lighter or brighter than our arms! Here I’ve used a bright white tank top! Even with as pale as my arms are, the brilliant white of the shirt is lighter yet and immediately draws your eye to it. The extra bonuses with this top is that it also adds texture (the lace) and interest (the cross-overs) which will additionally draw the observers’ eyes away from my arms!

If you’re still a little self-conscious, you can take this concept up yet another notch. Really give the observers something to draw their attention. Add some bright, light accessories! Here I’ve added some very bright, large yellow earrings and a necklace. When you look, immediately the eye is drawn to the jewelry, not to the arms.

You could, also, wear a white shirt with a bright/light pattern. Just make sure your pattern is small and not too closely packed together. If a pattern is placed too close together, it creates an optical illusion when the observer first sees you and it will be perceived as a solid. This will nullify it’s effects. Keep lots of the white space showing.

An example of a pattern that WON’T work. This pattern is too closely placed and will be perceived as a solid

If you’re stuck in a situation where you HAVE to wear the navy tank (Heaven knows what that situation could be!) … make the best of it and bling it up the same way we did with the white top. Not perfect, but it WILL draw the attention toward your face and away from your arms.

Studies tell us that people make an assessment of you within the first seven seconds of seeing you. After that? They pretty much stop analyzing your appearance! You are the only one really obsessing over those little details – like the jiggly arms. If we can just draw their attention away for 7 seconds and allow them to see the bright, brilliant, fabulous us – the arms won’t even be an issue – for them or for US!


Until We Meet Again!


14 Replies to “The Right to Bare Arms – and Do it Fearlessly”

  1. You are brilliant, Ronnie!! I always say that about a statement necklace, but to draw the attention away from my messy hair!! But this works fabulously too!!
    I SO hope that by the time I’m dead, we can all start loving our bodies and the media will stop creating such buzz around what we should cover or hide. I know my mom focuses on these issues too, yet she’s an amazing woman!!


    1. Ha ha! I’m certainly not brilliant, but I will take the compliment anyway! 🙂 You know it’s the #1 thing I get asked by friends, clients, etc. – how to look slimmer, more bodily balanced – it’s just human nature. Sad, but true. Even though our perception of what beauty is has changed drastically over time, we always strive to please that societal ideal. If only we saw souls instead of bodies!
      But, in the meantime, we’ll just bling it up and give them all something else to look at! 😉


  2. What a FABULOUS article! I have always hated my arms. When I was young (teens and 20s) I was embarrassed at how skinny they were so I wouldn’t wear sleeveless. In my 30s I was an avid swimmer and weight lifter but no matter how fit I was, I always felt it wasn’t quite enough and thought they still jiggled too much or weren’t defined enough. So I reluctantly wore sleeveless tops only when I couldn’t take the heat. In my 40s, I stopped working out because of my battle with chronic fatigue, chronic pain and severe immune deficiencies so now, at 55, I see my arms looking like my mothers did (and she hated her whole body so you can imagine what that did to MY head). These are such hard stories to stop telling ourselves! Just recently (the last couple months), I’ve been trying to change the “story” and embrace the dimples I see on the underside of my upper arms. I’m trying to be proud of my now healthy body (no more chronic fatigue or pain!) and proud to be 55, wise, strong and not overweight. Your article really resonated with me and came at the right time as I’m working on getting my head straight about my arms and wearing sleeveless this summer. Believe me, I will be trying these tips you gave! By the way, I’ve never noticed loose skin on you…in fact, I was wishing my arms had such nice definition and that my neck looked more like yours! Truly! The one thing I will say is that I *do* embrace my very white skin (love it, in fact) and wish more women wouldn’t be so self conscious and feel the need to cover it with self tanning products. Thanks for addressing this issue today!


    1. Thanks so much for sharing, Sarah! So many of us have struggled with body issues! If it’s not one part it’s another, isn’t it?! We really need to learn to love the skin we’re in and appreciate all these amazing bodies do for us! But, I know it makes me feel a little better to have a few tricks “up my sleeve” to draw attention away from areas I’m still self-conscious about.
      On the whole, I’m good with my pale skin. I would never consider laying out or using tanning beds. But, in the summer when I’m wearing shorts and dresses without stockings or tights, I do feel a little better feeling like I’m not ghostly white. My mom’s legs were like that and I never cared for how it looks. You can see I use the lightest color they have and only about a dime size each time.
      Great to have you stop in and thanks for joining the conversation!


  3. Great article Ronnie,

    I think your arms look great, BTW. My problem is the old legs. They only feel good if I have some type of compression sock on (genetics). I don’t they they are bad enough to have surgery, but it does keep me from wearing shorts. And, funny, I do the self tanner on my legs like you do on your arms. Well, we all have our realities.
    As far as my arms, I keep some light weights around and try to do arm exercises with them every morning. If nothing else, just a little strength exercise. Again, good post

    Terri xox


    1. Thanks, Terri! My mom had that issue with her legs. But, she also had terrible vericose veins. The only time I ever remember her wearing shorts was when she mowed the lawn in the Summer. I do toning weight exercises on my arms (and legs), as well, but, my surgeon made it clear that because it’s actual loose skin from the surgery, there’s literally nothing I can do apart from having plastic surgery. Thankfully, it’s the underpart of the arm and not the whole arm!
      You’re right – everyone has their “thing”. It’s life. If this is the worst of it, I really have nothing to complain about, do I? 🙂
      Thanks, again!


  4. Great demonstration and points Ronnie! Can you believe they actually make Spanx for women’s arms? I think they are a sleeve that compresses the arm! no thanks! I think it is important that we feel confident, but also comfortable. Why suffer in the heat, show the arms! I love the white top with the yellow accessories on you. Such cute tops on you too!
    Have a great week!
    jess xx


    1. Thanks, Jess! Spanx for your arms?! No way! Those I hadn’t heard about! I’ll stick to my little tricks and just deal with my little bit of jiggle from there! 🙂


  5. Ronnie, I can so identify. I had weight loss surgery almost four years ago and I hate my jiggly arms. But I tell myself that those jiggles means that I have kept off the weight I lost, so I’ve tried to make peace with them. I don’t often completely dare to bare, but when I do, I’ll keep your tips in mind!


    1. Maggie, that’s awesome! We should be proud of what we’ve accomplished! It’ll be three years for me in September! I hope the tips help you. But, most of all I hope we both can just be thankful for the bodies we’ve been blessed with! 🙂


  6. Great idea, because the last photos I made for my blog are awfull! Haha, I am starting to hate my arms and legs. And I do work out a lot! I guess it’s just aging, I have to accept it!


    1. You’re right Nancy – aging is NOT nice to our bodies. But, I think we both still look pretty fantastic! So, it is what it is and we do the best we can. I have NEVER noticed a problem with your arms or legs – I just always see how great you look!


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