Among my favorite of the lighter subjects I tackle in BLONDES is leg length. How long is ideal? In the book I describe on study in which researchers asked male and female subjects to rate the leg-length attractiveness of seven silhouettes (similar to those in the poll above).
The results show that, for men and women alike, the sexiest leg length is 5 percent longer than average for a given height — the equivalent of Figure E in our poll. (Figure A = legs 15% shorter than average; Figure B = 10% shorter; Figure C = 5% shorter; Figure D = average length for height; Figure E = legs 5% longer than average; Figure F = 10% longer; Figure G = 15% longer).
Second choice was split between average-length legs (Figure D) and those 10% longer than average (Figure F). According to the researchers, Boguslaw Pawlowski and Piotr Sorokowski, the preference for slightly longer legs may be evolutionary. Longish legs are associated with good childhood nutrition and development. Some studies, including (this and this ) suggest that longer legs are linked to longevity and a reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes. Legs that are shorter than average (Figures A-C) — or disproportionately long (Figure G) — may signal health problems that are genetic, environmental, or a combination of both.
I devote a chunk of BLONDES to the long-leg bias. After all, one reason why high heels are so sexy is that they make legs look longer. The average leg length of a 5’6″ woman (in the U.S.) is ~30″ — so a heel that is 1.5-3 inches high makes her legs look 5-10 percent longer and puts her in the developmental sweet spot. Of course, cultural factors may be driving us to wear higher and higher heels — in some places (like in Croatia, where I write this post) the 4-5-inch spike appears to be the new norm…..io