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How Do You Wear Your Anatomy?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Any evolutionary biologist will tell you that flight has evolved independently several times in the history of life on earth, but can they tell you how many times muscle leggings have evolved? We don’t generally talk fashion here at Symbiartic, but many consider high fashion to be art, so you’ll forgive me for a moment while I indulge…

Leggings are IN. And I’m not talking the plain-jane lace leggings or stirrup pants we wore in the 80s – I’m talking full-on, in-your-face PRINTS like you’ve never imagined them before. And while my more fashion-inclined friends are taking the plunge into flower print leggings with abandon, I am a bit more reluctant… unless one’s fashion is just a matter of being able to relate to what you’re donning…

…in which case, maybe I should try these radical muscle leggings from Black Milk?

Muscle Leggings from Black Milk

Muscle Leggings from Black Milk. HELLO! Even if I'm not bold enough to wear them, the anatomical artist in me appreciates their geekiness while the (seriously marginalized) fashionista in me applauds their chutzpah.

You often hear about how people (particularly women) stuff themselves into all kinds of uncomfortable clothes and shoes just to look a certain way, but it’s worth mentioning that some people make similar sacrifices for science. Take the model in John Cody’s innovative anatomy book, Visualizing Muscles.
Visualizing Muscles by John Cody
In the highly entertaining introduction, Dr. Cody recounts the trials he went through to complete the task, which involved five grueling ten-hour sessions of painting every muscle fiber and tendon on his shaved and shivering model. That was before they even started the photo shoot:

Fourteen to sixteen hours is an unreasonably long time to tell a model he cannot use the men’s room because the seat would obliterate his hamstrings and gluteal muscles. Solution: Mike [the model] went on a liquid diet the day before the session, and the next morning, he endured a hefty soap-suds enema.

Intimate details aside, these two projects, Black Milk’s muscle leggings and John Cody’s Visualizing Muscles, make up a great example of convergent evolution in art. More than two decades apart and on opposite sides of the world, two creative-types came up with essentially the same concept: to wear our anatomy on our proverbial sleeves. One serves science, one serves fashion, but both constitute great sciart.

from John Cody's Visualizing Muscles

Whee! Anatomy is FUN! from John Cody's Visualizing Muscles

Muscle Leggings from Black Milk, AUS$75, ships internationally

Visualizing Muscles: A New Echorché Approach to Surface Anatomy* by John Cody, M.D.

*Generation Y, beware. The book contains mostly black and white photos with a few choice color plates. See, back in the day, before cell phones and laptops, we wandered around aimlessly, wondering how we might possibly know what our friends were doing at every waking moment… oh, and color photography cost extra.

Kalliopi Monoyios About the Author: Kalliopi Monoyios is an independent science illustrator. She has illustrated several popular science books including Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish and The Universe Within, and Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True. Find her at Follow on Twitter @symbiartic.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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