On Wednesday, the Hollywood Reporter handed the nation an exemplar of investigative journalism handiwork: another chapter in the continuing saga of Donald Trump’s hands. Just how big are the GOP presidential nominee’s mitts, really?
THR purports to have the answer. In 1997, the magazine uncovered,
a team of wax figure artists from Madame Tussauds visited Trump’s office in Trump Tower in New York to take measurements and make impressions of various body parts—including his hands—to help them construct a life-size wax replica for the museum’s New York branch on 42nd Street. One of those handprints has been hiding in plain sight ever since: on a plaque on the wall as guests exit the museum.
Why is the size of Trump’s hands news? Because Trump himself has repeatedly made his palm proportions an issue throughout the campaign. During a Fox News debate in March, Trump assured those in the audience and the millions watching at home with their families that his hands—and, he implied, his genitals—were unproblematically sized.
“Look at those hands. Are they small hands?” Trump said on live television. “If they’re small, something else must be small. I guarantee you, there’s no problem. I guarantee.”
Trump was responding in kind to a quip about his hand-and-penis size from then-primary challenger Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), an intimation for which Rubio later apologized. But in case you were worried about Trump seeming like the metaphorically bigger man, the Republican presidential nominee also took repeated potshots at Rubio’s physical stature, dubbing him “Little Marco” on the campaign trail.
A subset of voters cringed. Media had a field day (complete with this deft New Yorker cover). And that could have been the end of it.
But of course it wasn’t—we’re talking about Donald Trump here. Weeks later, when the Washington Post editorial board asked him whether the debate remarks were a misstep, Trump went into a reverie. From the Post:
Recounting the feedback he was getting in the aftermath of Rubio’s jibe, Trump said, “I was on line shaking hands with supporters and one of the supporters said, ‘Mr. Trump, you have strong hands, you have good size hands.’ And then another one would say, ‘Oh, you have great hands, Mr. Trump. I had no idea.’”
“I mean, people were writing, ‘How are Mr. Trump’s hands?’ My hands are fine,” Trump said. “My hands are normal. Slightly large, actually. In fact, I buy a slightly smaller than large-size glove, okay? But I did this because everybody was saying to me, ‘Oh, your hands are very nice, they’re normal.’”
Trump has gone on to extol his glove-fillers’ virtues, saying things like “Those hands can hit a golf ball 285 yards,” and “I have the steadiest hands, look at those hands. Far steadier than hers,” referring to Hillary Clinton, who signaled the need for a president to have “steady hands” the day after Trump’s hand-wringing meeting with the Post.
So what about those hands, anyway? THR’s verdict:
Trump does indeed have hands just below average size, particularly for a man standing 6-foot-2. According to various human anatomy websites, the average-height American adult male (5-foot-10) has an average hand size (measured from the tip of the middle finger to the wrist) of 7.44 inches. Trump’s measures 7.25 inches.
Vanity Fair—a publication whose editor, Graydon Carter, has referred to the business mogul as a “short-fingered vulgarian” since the 1980s—notes that these dimensions rank Trump’s paw-size in the fifteenth percentile among men, according to the 1988 Anthropomorphic Survey of U.S. Personnel.
THR also included a life-size, printable outline of Trump’s hand, asking readers to see how their own hands measure up to Trump (and share the results with a hashtag on social media, of course). New York Times contributing opinion writer Emma Roller noted this:
And an intern for Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California even spotted this in a Rayburn House Office Building bathroom on Capitol Hill:
Amusing as all this is, it bears remembering that Trump’s dogged defense of his own anatomy reflects a broader obsession with the physical form and an intolerance for what he perceives as its imperfections, a preoccupation he’s channeled through his many misogynistic remarks about women’s bodies, mockery of a disabled reporter, and a bevy of racist and bigoted comments and policy proposals.