Leg Body Ratio – What’s Most Attractive?
The leg-body-ratio or LBR is a generally understudied metric of human physical attractiveness in women. Despite this, it is agreed to be a salient factor in determining female attractiveness.
LBR is the measure of the ratio between the leg length relative to the torso including the head. It has been suggested that LBR could contribute to judgments of attractiveness due to it’s link to health or perhaps even to overall fertility. To date, a long LBR has been linked to reduced risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes resistance, low blood pressure, better cardiovascular profiles, lower adult mortality, and reduced risk of cancer. On the other hand, short legs relative to the torso has been associated with lower fertility, reduced biomechanical efficiency (e.g., poorer running ability), and interrupted childhood development. Leg length, as it is, is a strong contributor to overall height, and thus to nutrition and all factors relating to this including a persons ability to use their nutrition effectively through digestion thus indicating good health.
However, research thus far has found mixed data on attractiveness and it is unknown if longer leg length is something that is preferred overall, or if there is a maximum leg length for which any other length above this is deemed unattractive.
Toward a better understanding of leg length preferences, research led by David Frederick, University of California, presented subjects with digitally rendered realistic female images of varying leg lengths.
LBR as measured from the bottom of the feet to the perineum (the area between the anus and scrotum or vulva) divided by total height was set at an average benchmark of 0.49. This measure was found to be normal in Polish adult females. From there, the torso and legs were lengthen and shorted to produce eight images ranging from 0.46 to 0.53. These are measures which fall within normal human variation.
It was found, predictably, that low LBRs were not preferred. That is, relatively short legs were rated as less attractive. Men’s preferences, but not women’s, followed an inverted U-pattern. That is, short, as well as tall, female legs were rated as equally unattractive. Thus, the preferred LBR was one that fell in the middle range of the image set.
The researchers found this result surprising given that the ranges fall within normal human variation, however, they suggest that this might be because the men tended to select the images which were not too short or too long i.e. not too atypical. Though, they do clarify that results suggesting that medium leg length is best, has been generally found in other studies.
Also, women misperceived men’s preferences for leg length. They believed that men would prefer longer legs than they actually did. Other studies have also found that women (and men) tend to overestimate the preferences of the opposite sex for certain body features. This study no exception.
The women reading this might now be wishing to calculate their own LBR to see how they measure up – but suffice it to say that if you fall within the norm as far as height goes, then your leg length likely also falls within the desirable range as well. However, failing this, one might employ the use of high heels to underscore the strength of this attractiveness stimulus to gain extra favours from men. See this study as an example.
Frederick, David A.; Maria Hadji-Michael; Adrian Furnham and Viren Swami. The influence of leg-to-body ratio (LBR) on judgments of female physical attractiveness: Assessments of computer-generated images varying in LBR. 2010. Body Image 7: 51-55.