Are Ankles The New Cleavage?

person sitting on couch
Julie Johnson / Unsplash

Why are ankles a thing?

Walking down the street, I see them popping out at every corner. I don’t mean people are dislocating their ankles all over the place. Nor do I refer to women wearing skirts or dresses. I refer to men cuffing their pants up three inches. Jeans that stop just shy of the lateral malleolus. Socks made specifically to minimize ankle skin coverage.

Ankles were never this big when I was a child. Socks rose tidal waves above the ankle. Pants didn’t just graze; they swamped shoes. They pooled in luxury on the floor. This ankle fetish has been a developing phenomenon in the last five years.

“Nice socks,” I said to a friend the other day. They were barely socks. They were half-socks. Just enough sock material to cover the toes and heel area. 85% of foot dorsum and 100% of ankle exposed to the cold biting winds.

“Thanks,” she said. “I bought them in Japan.”

Japan. A leading industry in electronics, automobiles and now… socklets.

I’m not going to pretend that I don’t own a few pairs of socklets. It began as a set of three but, being that socklets are really just a few bits of string threaded together, I inevitably lost one pair. Now I own two pairs of socklets. That’s four half-socks. Two full socks.

I am hesitant to say that this focus on ankle exposure is a completely new phenomenon. In fact, I feel that ankle idolization has been a theme running through our sexually charged society for some years. Back when women weren’t allowed to expose their ankles because it was too titillating for polite society. But when did male ankles become a thing to fetishize or at the very least admire?

I will go out on a limb and say that the admiration for ankles stems from the fact that it is where the leg tapers to its slimmest point. It’s delicate. People sprain their ankles all the time because they’re so feeble. Poor design if I’m being honest. So, going by the popular assumption that a woman is attractive because she is slim and traditionally feminine and a man is attractive because he is the larger, less intelligent but arguably more physically dominant foil to the slender woman, why are slim male ankles attractive? 

Because they are. Even I cannot deny that when I see a man walking past with his pants cuffed, I think to myself, “Mate. Those are some nice ankles.” It’s confusing. I’ve been thinking it over for days now, looking at male ankles and trying to decipher them.

Men all over the Western world have embraced exposed ankles with open arms. Except for serious runners or cyclists who wear heavy UV duty wrap-around sunglasses, guys are wearing socklets all over the place. Nary a full-sized sock can be found these days in casual wear. It’s almost disheartening. Ankles get cold too.

I suppose it is somewhat unifying that ankles are a gender-neutral source of visual pleasure. They’re not hips or breasts or pectorals or biceps. They’re a joint. But we love them now.

I went to buy new socks last week and found a wall dedicated almost completely to socklets.

“Where are the normal socks?” I muttered to myself, holding up two pairs of socklets and wondering if I could sew them together to make a full pair. In the end, I decided it was too much effort. I would have to become one of many; wearing socklets and wishing my ankles didn’t feel so naked. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

I write to deal with existential crises about my day job.

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