All hands dimorphic: Gnomeo and Juliet edition

I previously complained about Tangled‘s 75%-male cast and extreme sex dimorphism in the romantic leads, as seen in this hand shot:


Keeping to my policy of two-year delays in movie reviews, let me add the same complaint about Gnomeo and Juliet, the charming adaptation from Disney’s Touchstone imprint. Here, a writing team of 8 men and 2 women (including Shakespeare) gives us a named cast of 14 men and 7 women, in a love story featuring these two adorable garden gnomes:

gnomeojulietHe’s only a little taller, and (judging by the gray beard) a little older. And in the movie she demonstrates bravery and feats of strength, as is now the norm. But look at those hands! Take a closer look:

gnomeojuliethandsWhat is it about hands that makes it so essential for men and women to have such differences? In the “man hands” episode of Seinfeld we learned how distressing it can be for a man to find out the woman to whom he was attracted has large hands.


That scene required a hand double. In real life, men’s and women’s hands differ on average but with a lot of overlap in the distributions — lots of men have hands smaller than lots of women. But in animation the gloves are off — and Disney is free to pair up couples who are many standard deviations apart in hand size. If real people commonly had this range of hand sizes, would such an extreme difference be considered desirable?


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5 responses to “All hands dimorphic: Gnomeo and Juliet edition

  1. Ron

    In real life, men’s and women’s hands differ on average but with a lot of overlap in the distributions

    You’ll have to provide evidence.

    OTOH, by looking at growth charts from the National Center For Health Statistics, a 5’9″ woman is in the 97th percentile, but a same-height man is only in the 40th percentile. That’s minimal overlap.

    It’s reasonable to presume that hand sizes follow a similar pattern.

  2. Ness Blackbird

    I think the interesting question is: Why do they draw the hands (and other body parts) this way? Is it simply to emphasize sexual dimorphism? And if so, why do they want to do that? I think it’s safe to assume that the habit has been thoroughly focus-grouped by young children, so it must “work,” in the sense of getting the kids to pay attention.

    • I’m not sure. Disney sells the movie to the parents first so they’re the ones Disney needs to impress most. If the parents let the kids see it and they love it for other reasons (action, music, color, funny), then the dimorphism lesson can sink in subliminally.

  3. Pingback: Disney’s dimorphism, ‘Help! My eyeball is bigger than my wrist!’ edition | Family Inequality

  4. Pingback: Movie dimorphism udpate: How to Train Your Dragon 2 edition | Family Inequality

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