First, for those of you in or around the Stirling area, I am giving the John Damien Lecture at the University of Stirling tonight.  Details here.

OK, so a few days ago someone sent me this photograph of the Spanish minister Carme Chacón….

The odd thing is that the toes on her legs appear reversed.  Can you solve the mystery?



  1. Simple. She doesn’t actually have her legs crossed. Her left arm is covering the top of her left thigh, making it looks like her legs are crossed, but they aren’t.

    1. Ha! I saw they were crossed at the ankles, but didn’t see the illusion that they were crossed at her knees until you pointed it out.

    2. So how does her left thigh go under her left knee?

      What’s really going is that she’s an amputee and she took off her spare left leg.

  2. Her legs aren’t crossed at the knee, only the ankle. The line of her sleeve looks to be the top of her leg, but it isn’t.

  3. That is weird! Couldn’t see it at first cos was looking at her feet but when you follow the legs up it is odd. Will have to stare again! Any excuse??

  4. The optical illusion is caused by her left arm. At first glance it seems like she has her legs crossed when in fact she is merely sitting in the same position that a lady who was riding a horse sidesaddle would adopt.

  5. Short of some bad Photoshop work (for examples see, we have to work out why her logs appear crossed, which is what would make the toes seem reversed.

    The impression that the legs are crossed is caused by her arm masking the upper half of her left leg and the shadow from that, and the crossed-over right hand (the lighting is from the right of the picture as can be seen from shadows). Remove that effect, and she should be revealed as sitting straight with her right leg crossing behind her left only at the ankle.

    (and why don’t we have glamorous ministers in the UK?).

  6. just cover up the seemingly exposed thigh with ur fingersthen u’ll find the answer: indeed she didn’t cross her thigh at all.

  7. Her toes are connected to her feet; her feet are connected to her legs.

    She has her lovely legs crossed at the ankle level…

  8. Maybe I need my eyes checked; I can’t see anything resembling an illusion at all. Legs are crossed at roughly shin-height, right leg behind the left leg.

  9. This pic was very famous in Spain a week ago, it has SO MUCH photoshop, they actually switch legs unfortunately baaaad

  10. it’s funny all these people screaming “Photoshop!” cant take a minute to actually scrutinize the photo and see it’s not retouched at all!

  11. Her leg is just up with her hand and forearm covering her knee and upper thigh. So what you see is the line created where the back of her thigh and the back of her calf meet. We ASSUME it signifies her legs are crossed, but that’s an assumption our brains make.
    You can easily recreate this at home. There is absolutely NO photo manipulation of any kind involved.

  12. The fact that her sleeve covering her left thigh is closely aligned with the top of her right knee leads our brain to connect the dots. Seeing may be believing, but you shouldn’t always believe what you see.

  13. She was involved in a horrible skiing accident years ago. Tore her legs right off. Very tragic. Only way doctors could save her legs was to swap them.

  14. Simple, the flesh coloured thigh you see below her hands is not actually thigh, but a coloured band on the bottom of her dress

    1. Dang – you beat me to it! lol. It’s just the shadow of the fingers of her right hand that’s dangling down. Simples 🙂

  15. Did anyone realized a creepy face right up on that womans’s head?(ow,and I actually believe that she made a very curious illusion)..

  16. I don’t understand, they don’t look reversed to me. That’s exactly how I’d expect her toes to be in that position.

  17. I find it somewhat incredible that most people assume it’s an optical illusion when the simplest explanation is some sort of photoshop mistake.

    There is strong evidence this photo has been shopped (besides the toes, I mean): look at the edge where her left leg goes over her right. You’ll notice this edge looks “soft”, or out of focus. Exactly what one would expect the result to be of a blend or smooth command or similar in an editing programme.

  18. Took me a while, but yes, it’s not crossed at the knee, the positioning of her legs and hand makes it look as if it is, but her knees are the right way round and the cross only appears at the ankle. Tough to see though, even though I’m 99% sure of the answer, I can still see a second crossing… might have to use my wife a guinea pig to test this.

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