Why do fashion people keep sticking their legs in the air? An investigation


A very serious analysis of a not so serious pose.

When Giulia, the managing editor of this esteemed publication, asked me if I’d like to write an investigative piece on leg selfies, naturally I jumped at the chance. There’s nothing like seven weeks of iso to get you pondering the big fashion questions. 

If you too have noticed the increasing frequency of celebrities and influencers lying on their side and raising their leg to pose for a photo, then you and Giulia are not alone. 

The question is: why? Why are all these people sticking their legs in the air? Are the fash-pack just more flexible? Are feet the latest fad? A rise in footfall or a foot-fail? I can’t think of any more foot-related puns, so let’s explore.

The historical origins

Image via Amy Kaleski

As with all great fashion origin stories, we start with Victoria Beckham. The ex-Spice Girl-cum-designer and all-round style icon set off a series of events with just one single leg raise. 

A quick Google search takes us back to 2015 (cc: mid-calf boots and sheer dresses), where Posh’s right leg made its astrophysical debut. Coined the #VBPose, the signature move first saw Posh lounging in a Singapore hotel, donning black stiletto pumps, sticking her leg up on an impossible angle and looking busy on her phone. Ballet enthusiasts will know the pose as the ‘hussy’ and others have named it the ‘flagpole’. If it’s not the most ridiculously chic yet acrobatic thing you’ve ever seen then stop reading now. 

But it wasn’t until 2017 that things really took off, and naturally it involved a Kardashian. Kourtney Kardashian provided her own version of the pose delivering it straight to VB directly via Instagram. Posh hit her right back, in a silk dressing gown no less, starting a pose-off.

Since then, we’ve seen Posh feature the leg kick in a British Vogue video and the #VBPose has been taken on by a stream of celebs including Ellen DeGeneres, Mindy Kaling, Eva Longoria and Amina Muaddi

In a parallel fashion universe – and another win for legs – 2017 also saw Leandra Cohen (née Medine) AKA the Man Repeller create her own take on the leg selfie. Cohen’s #OneLeggedSelfie has seen her left foot regularly feature in her mirror selfies ever since and the hashtag has also taken off in the Insta world.  

Are leg selfies a natural response to lockdown?

Image via Maxine Wylde

This *unprecedented time* has seen the use of social media skyrocket and naturally, the rise of user-generated content (read: selfies). 

The #VBpose, in particular, has now seemingly seeped its way into the mainstream, becoming somewhat of a ‘quarantine mood’. This could speak to us all being stuck in the confines of our homes and being at the mercy of our bedroom mirrors. This theory would also account for the uncomfortable looking micro-trend of the pandemic: trying to contort your body to fit into said bedroom mirrors.

Or, we could all just have a lot of time on our hands. With all this spare time, influencers have even gone so far as to balance items on their raised foot, which is no mean feat, really. 

If you’ve got your life together, you’re probably also using lockdown to hone in on some new skills. This has included a heck of a lot of people learning to do the splits, which if I was into conspiracy theories, I could hypothesise is because VB told them too. A coincidence? Probably. A device to support my leg investigation? Absolutely. 

The pose is more flattering?

Image via Ana Matisse

A pointed toe will elongate the leg, which is why when rounded or square toes creep back in, the cyclical nature of fashion really irks me. So the #VBPose should theoretically make your leg look longer.

However, having spent this past weekend trying the pose for myself, using both legs, an array of footwear as well as sans shoes, I’m unconvinced. 

I’ve deduced that the success of the pose comes down to three things: the footwear you’re wearing, the angle of your leg and the level of nonchalance you can channel while doing it. 

I’m not sorry to admit that in the name of research I tried at least 10 different pairs of shoes. From stilettos to sneakers, to loafers and even ugg boots. Posh definitely had it right, as a pointed heel is the way to go, however that’s where my success stopped. 

Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that my left leg can only get to a 70-degree angle, my right about 80, and it just doesn’t look that good if you can’t get the angle right. I’m blaming this on a steep decline in flexibility since my pilates studio shut, at least that’s what I’m telling myself. 

So if you’re not a ballerina, are sans a celebrity trainer, or haven’t been going to pilates, this pose is uncomfortable. Considering the level of difficulty I experienced when doing the pose and trying to pull a nonchalant ‘cool girl’ facial expression, it’s safe to say I have a newfound respect for Victoria Beckham.

While I may have been sceptical before writing this, if you can stick your leg in the air and still manage to look hot, I salute you. 

If you’ve read this far, you’re clearly interested in some leg selfie inspo, so here are our top picks

Image via Amy Kaleski

1. French influencer Ana Matisse is a stickler for the #vbpose, here, here and here
2. Local girl boss Genevieve Day
3. Pastel-toned fashionista Maxine Wylde
4. Belgium babe Shana-Remy for her kicks
5. Sydney fashion blogger Amy K and fellow content creator @papayalovin took the pose one step further, balancing everything and anything on top of their raised feet, christening the movement #wecanbalanceeverything.

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