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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Short People

His diminutive stature has made him the butt of many jokes - most recently when his fiancee was pictured towering over him on a night out. But research suggests that what Tom Cruise lacks in height he makes up for with his perfect legs. This, psychologists say, is because men look most attractive when, like the Hollywood star, their legs are the same length as their torso.

The most attractive leg length for women, however, is 1.4 times the length of the torso as is the case with Nicole Kidman, Cruise's ex-wife. The researchers believe long legs are appealing in women because they are a sign of good child-bearing capabilities. Tall women have wider pelvises, allowing for easier births and heavier babies.

The relatively shorter ideal leg length in men serves to make them look more powerfully built. Dr Viren Swami, the psychologist who led the research, said: "If you have shorter legs in comparison with your torso length, you appear to have a bigger torso, which may make you appear more muscular."

All of which will be welcome news for 170cm Cruise, whose 175cm wife-to-be, actor Katie Holmes, magnified the disparity in size between the couple when she wore 10cm heels to a Beverly Hills restaurant last week. In the study reported in the journal Body Image, volunteers rated the attractiveness of pictures of men and women with different leg-to-body ratios.

Researchers found the differing proportions played an important role in judging beauty. "Both male and female participants showed a preference for higher leg-to-body ratios in women and lower leg-to-body ratios in men," they said. Long legs are also thought to be attractive in women because they indicate good health.

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