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Leg-length to height ratio and attractiveness
Swami et al. showed line drawings of men and women that varied the length of the legs relative to height, and had the figures rated for appeal by men and women.(1, pdf)
Men and women judged similarly. For a given height, the judges preferred longer legs in women and shorter legs in men.
Fig. 1. Higher leg-body ratios (relatively longer legs) were preferred in women and lower ones in men.
For the same height, women tend to have longer legs. Hence this study reported a preference for exaggerated sexual dimorphism.
When women wear high heels, they make their legs appear relatively longer. High heels are not good for posture, but again, patriarchy cannot be blamed for this. Women are doing it to make themselves appear more feminine and appealing.
The paper has some shortcomings:
In the line drawings, the authors achieved longer legs by stretching the legs in the photo editor, making them thinner in the process, but thinner legs will count against the appeal of men. So it is possible that a better study will show a similar find, but not that the shortest legs shown in the line drawings are optimally preferred in men.
The authors cited some literature to argue that men most strongly prefer women with average height, but the correct interpretation is that over a very broad height range, men do not really care how tall a woman is. As one approaches the extremes of height, it becomes more difficult for women to find men, and hence women closer to average height will be more successful with men than women who are much shorter or much taller, but this isn’t the same as an optimal preference for average height in women.
- Swami, V., Einon, D., and Furnham, A., The leg-to-body ratio as a human aesthetic criterion, Body Image, 3, 317 (2006).