The Knee Test. I

October 27, 2003

The Knee Test.

I refer to the "knee test" in my rant on the politics of personal appearance but do not define the term.

People come in all shapes and sizes. Some shapes and sizes are unhealthy for the wearerl; the most common unhealthy shapes are obese and emaciated. The knee test measures for emaciation. Physical appearance is linked to self-esteem, and some people believe that you can never be too thin. Many college women obsess about their appearance and some people (I almost said some women, but a few men have similar body issues) try to control their body shape as a proxy for controlling the rest of their lives. Whenever I have a skinny student, male or female, I try to give them the "knee test." Quite simply, your knees and elbows should be SMALLER than your arms and legs. If someone's limbs go out as they move from muscle to bone, calf to knee to thigh, then they are skinny enough that I will talk to them and see if I need to call University health services on their behalf.

In this picture of Ann Coulter you can clearly see that her knee is wider than her calf or lower thigh. This is a warning sign. It is possible to be that thin and still be mentally and physically healthy - look at the top marathoners like Tegla Laroupe - but it is also possible to be that thin because of an eating disorder or a medical crisis.

For contrast, see this picture of Twiddlybits modeling her "assalicious pants." Her knees are just a little narrower than her calves and thighs. And, may I add, the pants look good on her.

Edit, added the contrast pictures, edited text for clarity.

Posted by Red Ted at October 27, 2003 01:38 AM | TrackBack