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The truth behind the shiny-legs photo that had the internet guessing

shiny legs photo optical illusion
Hunter Culverhouse
For those who remember last year’s dress illusion, there’s now a new illusion online involving shiny legs. The dress illusion found viewers dividing into it’s-blue-and-black and it’s-white-and-gold teams, and then arguing about the colors of a dress photo for days. This new shiny legs optical illusion won’t have the same, er, legs, because the photographer has already spilled the beans, or rather the paint, according to Insider.

Hunter Culverhouse posted a photo of legs on Instagram. Right off some of her followers were convinced the legs were oiled up, covered with gloss, or had some other substance to make them shiny. Others never saw shininess but instead knew immediately what was really going on.

According to Insider, the shiny-looking-legs shot wasn’t intentional but was meant to show what they’d done after working on a project for art class.

Culverhouse emailed Insider, “I had some white paint left on my brush and put random lines on my legs, [and it] turned out to be a completely confusing picture for everyone on the internet. The first time I posted it, it didn’t go completely crazy,” Culverhouse wrote in an email. “But then I reposted it again and other big accounts started to post it and share it. Then it took to Twitter and YouTubers started tweeting about it as well.”

So it turns out the legs aren’t shiny at all, but streaked with white paint. After the “shiny legs” photo went viral it gained attention outside Instagram and took off on Twitter.

Optical illusions attract attention, most often just for fun. Even once we figure out what’s really in the image our minds seem to pause while we try to “click” the image back and forth to see it both ways. And it’s not just an internet trick — earlier this year painted optical illusion road blocks were used to slow traffic near school zones in India.

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