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Are long legs sexy? How long? Why?

If up to 5% longer, yes:

It has been shown that height is one of the morphological traits that influence a person’s attractiveness. To date, few studies have addressed the relationship between different components of height and physical attractiveness. Here, we study how leg length influences attractiveness in men and women. Stimuli consisted of seven different pictures of a man and seven pictures of a woman in which the ratio between leg length and height was varied from the average phenotype by elongating and shortening the legs. One hundred men and 118 women were asked to assess the attractiveness of the silhouettes using a seven-point scale. We found that male and female pictures with shorter than average legs were perceived as less attractive by both sexes. Although longer legs appeared to be more attractive, this was true only for the slight (5%) leg length increase; excessively long legs decreased body attractiveness for both sexes. Because leg length conveys biological quality, we hypothesize that such preferences reflect the workings of evolved mate-selection mechanisms. Short and/or excessively long legs might indicate maladaptive biological conditions such as genetic diseases, health problems, or weak immune responses to adverse environmental factors acting during childhood and adolescence.

Source: “Adaptive preferences for leg length in a potential partner” from Evolution and Human Behavior, Volume 29, Issue 2, Pages 86-91 (March 2008)

There may be a fertility connection:

Female height impacts fertility differently in western and nonwestern cultures. Leg length or relatively longer legs comprise key components of height and possibly indicates mate value. We examined the associations between height, its components, and reproductive outcomes in a large Chinese cohort. Multivariable regression was used to assess the association of height, leg length (standing minus sitting height) and relatively longer legs with number of offspring in a cross-sectional sample of 9998 Chinese people aged at least 50 years from Phase 2 of the Guangzhou Biobank Cohort Study recruited in 2005–2006. Older and less educated respondents had more children. Adjusted for age, childhood socioeconomic status (SES), and education, women with longer legs had more offspring; however, there was no such association in men. When stratified by childhood SES (reported parental material possessions), longer legs and relatively longer legs were most strongly associated with more offspring in women from poorer backgrounds. Fertility was specifically associated with longer legs and relatively longer legs in women only. The difference in the association of leg length to number of offspring by childhood SES suggests a preference advantage rather than a physiological advantage in being taller. However, these benefits were specific to reproductive success in women and particularly women from poorer backgrounds suggesting that social factors may have facilitated fertility.

Source: “Are longer legs associated with enhanced fertility in Chinese women?” from Evolution and Human Behavior  Volume 29, Issue 6, Pages 434-443 (November 2008)

Here is a great Chinese movie you’ve never heard of.

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About Eric Barker