Why all articles about sex use a photo of feet sticking out from the covers

While doing a little internet research, our intern Alyssa came across this article from the Telegraph UK entitled “Average Man Has 9 Sexual Partners in Lifetime, Women Have 4” accompanied by a photo like one of those above. Next to the link she sent, Alyssa wrote: “Random Side Note:  Why do they always use photos of feet sticking out of a bed for these sex stories?  Who has sex with cold feet like that?  Doesn’t it make anyone else feel comfortable staring at these random people’s feet?  Seriously!” It’s a legitimate (and funny) question.

The photo cliche of a couple’s bare feet sticking out from under the covers is to sex news stories as the line “I didn’t come here to make friends” is to reality TV shows. They’re both inescapable, because they both do their job — which is to immediately convey a message and a mood succinctly. With the television script, that message is: I’ll be an interesting and compelling character on this show because my bloodthirsty desire to win will allow me to lie, cheat and talk shit about anyone and everyone without remorse – stay tuned!” With the feet photos, that message is: we’re going to talk about sex (most likely traditional, vanilla, heterosexual intercourse) but not in a titillating way, instead in a more fun, lighthearted, non-threatening and yet hopefully informative (even if only slightly) way.

Little button toes are cute, entwined feet indicate intimacy, and the obligatory white sheets convey a clean, almost innocent feel to the amorous embrace. The couple can’t wear socks, otherwise that would suggest the article has something to do with sock-wearing while schtupping. They can’t realistically hide their feet under the warms covers because then there’d be nothing to shoot. And when you are rolling around in bed, the sheets do have a tendency to go all askew. Showing above-the-neck orgasm faces is just too erotic for news publications and any other naked erogenous zones (especially those engaging with another person’s erogenous zones) are just too porny.

Love it or hate it, the quintessential sole-sex image is here to stay. Foot fetishists of the world rejoice!


Getty Image from Telegraph UK article