Some of the earliest recorded instances of “pretty ankle contests” appear in the first decade of the 20th century as special shows within women’s “physical culture” pageants. Some pageants also judged prettiest shoulders, arms and legs. Contestants would be concealed behind a curtain, with only their ankles exposed for evaluation. Often, these shows served as promotions for hosiery companies, with winners receiving free stockings from the event sponsors, not to mention fame and adulation.
July 10, 1930 A policeman judges an ankle competition at Hounslow, London. Image: Fox Photos/Getty Images
Nov. 7, 1953 The legs of contestants in a ‘Miss World’ beauty competition dangle over the wing of a BOAC Comet airplane.
1932 Men judge women’s ankles at a competition in Kent, England. Image: Fox Photos/Getty Images
June 25, 1936 Image: Fox Photos/Getty Images
June 21, 1933 Image: Fox Photos/Getty Images
1950 A “prettiest legs” competition in Paris. Image: AGIP/RDA/Getty Images
1950 Image: Keystone-France/Getty Images