Odd Bods in Marie Claire

January 22, 2010

Women’s Magazines have a strange kind of logic. On the one hand they push the philosophy ‘love yourself’, ‘love who you are’ and then they provide 365 pages showing you how to change every bit of yourself including your hair, eyebrows, pubic hair, tan, weight, skin tone, fitness, nose shape, career, boobs, how-to-hook him techniques and so on. Marie Claire, Australia, is no different. Nevertheless I adopt the policy that these magazines are a bit of frou-frou fluff that women find entertaining. If girls and women want to beat themselves up with impossible goals then that is their right. But there are limits and the January edition, 2010 of Marie Claire is a classic.

Claiming to support real women and real body sizes Marie Claire ran a survey to see which body size 6,8, 10, 12, 14 or 16 was preferred by the Australian public.

Firstly, these surveys involve meaningless maths because they use  SELF SELECTING SAMPLES.  Nevertheless, there she is,the most popular choice, Size 12 or Ms 59%.

Keep flipping through the magazine, however, and you will find a shopping guide very common in these magazines. Have a look at the model (below)???? Do alarm bells ring?? Let’s do the maths, mathspigs.

Look at the pictures (above). The waist to hip measurement is the same for each model namely 20mm.  I’ve scaled up the images by factor of 10 (below) so that:

Waist to hip = 200mm.

Now look at the leg lengths!!!!!!!!


Who is this model? Alice in Wonderland? Her legs are 89% longer than a girl with the same waist to hip length or have her legs been digitally stretched by 89%?

Teachers I urge you to ask girls to bring in women’s/girl’s magazines to do some similar maths. To check if a model’s legs have been digitally stretched you can use the hip to knee and knee to ankle ratio which should be close to 1:1. We have to help girls develop a visual sense of proportion. And the maths quantifies this critical thinking. Rather than girls concentrating on booster bras boosting brains makes more sense.


  1. Happy new year Kerry. I loved this post – v interesting indeed.

    • Hi Sarah,

      Great to hear from you. I’ll do some more Body Image Maths this year. I was shocked to find the models legs were 89% longer than a standard size 12. What is she? A Preying Mantis?

      Have a Fab New Year.

      Mathspig aka Kerry Cue

  2. […] Mathspig Blog Just another WordPress.com weblog « MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig MathsPig ………………………………………………………………… with Kerry Cue Make me feel real loose like a long necked goose!!! May 4, 2010 Everyone knows that women’s mags digitally alter photographs of models that appear in the magazine. When I finally did the maths I was shocked.  In Odd Bods in Marie Claire […]

  3. I reckon you’ve missed her hip – the line you’ve drawn goes through a ruffle; a trap for young players. She’s not the hippiest chick I’ve ever seen, so it’s probably hard to pick – especially in that skirt. If you move the hip line according to the assumption that the ankle-knee:knee-hip ratio is ~ 1:1, everything lines up. I think there’s an optical illusion here – the skirt is actually a lot shorter than it appears – this is probably to trick the eye into thinking the wearer has really long legs. Looks like it works too.

    • Now we’re grttinginto the definition of a ruffle! Tricky. mathspig

  4. Fine.

  5. Has anyone though that the fashion model is around 5’9-6 Ft tall & the average size 12 lady is about 5’4-5’6. Obviously the model is taller, hence the longer legs. The high waisted skirt is also a fashion trick to appear to have longer legs, that begin much higher up. Your math sucks.

  6. What a great article, the funny thing here is that the ‘size 12’ model is absoltely NOT a size 12, most size 12 women do not look like this AT ALL, she is tiny and looks to me to be about an 8-10 tops. What a load of crap, I hate how these magazine champion anorexia and then claim body love. Feature a real 5 foot 5 size 12, with love handles, thighs that touch and 30% body fat and you have a real size 12, the only thing size 12 about that model is her boobs.

    • Hello Kitkat,

      too true. Too true. Toodles Mathspig

  7. Reblogged this on Overexcitable and commented:
    Smart use of media distortion

  8. […] Odd Bods in Marie Claire: How much do they stretch modles legs in magazines? […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: