The Benslimane's Artistic Model for Leg Beauty
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- Benslimane, F. Aesth Plast Surg (2012) 36: 803. doi:10.1007/s00266-012-9886-1
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In 2000, the author started observing legs considered to be attractive. The goal was to have an ideal aesthetic model and compare the disparity between this model and a patient’s reality. This could prove helpful during leg sculpturing to get closer to this ideal. Postoperatively, the result could then be compared to the ideal curves of the model legs and any remaining deviations from the ideal curves could be pointed out and eventually corrected in a second session. The lack of anthropometric studies of legs from the knee to the ankle led the author to select and study attractive legs to find out the common denominators of their beauty.
The study consisted in analyzing the features that make legs look attractive. The legs of models in magazines were scanned and inserted into a PowerPoint program. The legs of live models, Barbie dolls, and athletes were photographed. Artistic drawings by Leonardo da Vinci were reviewed and Greek sculptures studied. Sculptures from the National Archaeological Museum of Athens were photographed and included in the PowerPoint program.
Results and Conclusion
This study shows that the first criterion for beautiful legs is the straightness of the leg column. Not a single attractive leg was found to deviate from the vertical, and each was in absolute continuity with the thigh. The second criterion is the similarity of curve distribution and progression from knee to ankle.
Level of Evidence V
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KeywordsLegs beautyCalves beautyAnkles beautyModelsLeonard de VinciGolden ratioDivine proportions
Indeed, when slimming down of the ankles is considered, liposuction is performed in a circular fashion. The upper limits of the fat compartments to be aspirated are the lower edge of the medial and lateral gastrocnemius muscles . Thus, the volume is reduced medially and laterally without considering any aesthetic ideal: do ankles have the same concavity medially as laterally? Do the lower concavities of the legs (ankles) extend cephalad in the same fashion medially as laterally? The same question applies for the calves: When enhancing or reducing the volume of the calves, should it be done in a symmetric fashion? Is the medial and lateral convexity of the calves symmetric?
In this study the author analyzes legs that are considered the most attractive in the Western world. Legs of models from Body Part Models, Inc. (http://www.bodypartmodels.com) based in Los Angeles are studied as well as legs of models in Ukraine and France. The evaluation of legs’ curves, their shape, and succession shows that there is a common denominator among all attractive legs. The Golden Ratio as applied to the legs in Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings is discussed.
Three groups of models were analyzed: models from different ethnic groups, Barbie dolls, and athletes. The author also analyzed two groups of artistic models: drawings by Leonardo da Vinci (the Vitruvian Man) and Greek sculptures (photographs taken at the National Archeology Museum of Athens).
Models, Barbie Dolls, and Athletes
Anthropomorphic Analysis of the Legs: The Mechanical Axis of the Lower Limbs
Straightness of the Leg Column
Similarity of Curve Distribution Among Attractive Legs
Objective Scientific Analysis: Geometry
Artistic Drawings and Sculptures
Leonardo da Vinci Drawing: the Vitruvian Man
Sculptures from Ancient Greece
Illouz  described two fat compartments: lateral and medial. He specified that the upper limit of the fat compartment to be aspirated is the lower edge of the gastrocnemius muscle. The patient should go on tiptoe to determine the lower edge of the muscles. However, performing liposuction caudal to the lower edge of the muscles, even by a gradient, assumes that the inner and outer edges of the legs and ankles are symmetrical.
Chamosa [2, 3] described the ankle and the distal leg as a rhomboid prism with a major anteroposterior axis, four sides, and four edges. This description is correct and helps in identifying the four fat compartments on the ankle. However, it does not describe the distribution of curves of the legs from knee to ankle.
In his trek toward the “ideal beautiful normal,” Howard  applied the “divine proportion,” as described by Ricketts , to the lower extremity. However, it was applied only to the medial aspect of the calves in order to determine what he called the medial “peak.” No mention was made to the medial concavity or to the subtle lateral convex–concave curves. The lateral sweep was described as a long, easy curve that should mimic the lateral gastrocnemius muscle. One should note that the lateral easy curve does not run from the head of the peroneus to the lateral malleolus; the lateral easy convex curve turns into a slight concavity at the lower third to end up on the lateral malleolus.
Most plastic surgeons who studied leg aesthetics reference Ricketts’ article “The Biologic Significance of the Divine Proportion and Fibonacci Series” . However, the article focused on facial and dental proportions but no mention was made to the legs. Moreover, the drawing used by Ricketts does not portray (illustrate) the application of the golden ratio to the lateral aspect of the legs.
Art historians as well as theorists of the Divine Numbers agree that the Golden Ratio is inherent in every work of art considered beautiful. This ratio ultimately describes the absolute and unique beauty. To understand and interpret beauty, one must return to the basics: the Pythagoras-Platonic heritage contained in the works of Euclid .
We are not completely sure if Pythagoras practiced geometry! In fact, all of the works attributed to him are apocryphal, though he is considered by some the inventor of Greek mathematics [8–10]. This is another myth that may have been perpetuated until the end of the fourth century BC to explain the origins.
The Pythagoreans formed a heterogeneous group, few of whom actually practiced mathematics, except for one: Archytas of Tarentum (around 430–348 BC). The Pythagoreans were especially interested in the philosophy and mysticism of mathematics. In fact, the “number” was for them a fundamental concept that could explain the world as a whole. The expression “everything is number” offers mainly a metaphysic, and the numbers are integers, whole numbers, equal to or >2. Respected art historians think that “it is simply impossible to speak of shared numbers, percentages or averages (the relation between two parts, either quantitative or qualitative) in Pythagorean or Euclidian theorems” .
It is natural that some plastic surgeons have tried to find in numbers the secret of beauty. Thus, the Golden Ratio has been applied in this quest. However, one should not try at all costs to find mathematical rules to define facial or body beauty. The use of the Golden Ratio has been deceptive so far. The proof is that no mathematical formula has been universally accepted to define any area of the face or body by the plastic surgery community. How many plastic surgeons use the Golden Ratio in their daily practice? That said, when the most ideal and generally admired proportions of leg beauty are studied and thoroughly understood, the cosmetic surgeon may better close the gap between the patient’s reality and the ideal aesthetic model found in nature.
The author would like to thank Omar Slaoui, Wayne Carey and Rebecca Kavanaugh for their help in the revision of this article.
Conflict of interest
The author declares that he has no conflicts of interest to disclose.
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