Saturday, May 31, 2008

Demographic profile of Maxim's hottest 100

++Addition++Is Agnostic's last name is O'Brien? My thoughts are apparently contained within his, though he knows much beyond! He did a similar analysis of Maxim's hottest in '06, of which I was totally unaware.

Interestingly, he found average height to be exactly the same as I did for the '08 list, measured in tenths of an inch (about 1.5 inches taller than the broader US female population). He speculates on several reasons as to why that is the case, including longer legs (where most 'extra' height is distributed), a less corpulent appearance (high heels are an artificial way of going about this), height being tied to greater prevalence of male hormones that boost functionality in the competitive world of the celebrity, and as demonstrative of generally better health (which is what I've always assumed).

Agnostic also looked at race and hair color (and Nordic features more generally) in the '06 crop. Among the top tier he finds Nordic features, including blond hair, to be lacking. In '08, however, blue hair and blond eyes are much overrepresented among Maxim's white women than they are among American white women in general.

He points to Hispanic overrepresentation, but it is a bit misleading if thought about in racial terms. Without knowing the names, Cameron Diaz (blond hair, blue eyes, slightly yellow-tinted skin that would probably lead me to guess some East Asian ancestry before anything Latin American) and Christina Aguilera (also blonde hair, blue eyes) don't look Hispanic. Daniella Alonso (who looks Filipino), Jordana Brewster, and Cinthia Moura don't really, either. They could just as easily (actually straining less credulity to the guy seeing them for the first time) be from Spain, like Penelope Cruz is.

N/A points out that Maxim's list (to the extent that it is indicative) proxies for what American men, with minority influences from non-whites, find attractive, not just the 'tastes' of northwestern European-descended white men.

Peter corrects the non-heterosexual count by adding fallen angel Lindsey Lohan. It might be a dopey publicity stunt though, and probably wasn't known when the list was compiled.

---

Maxim magazine just released its list of the 100 "hottest" females. The list is billed as being global in scope, but as the vast majority of its readers--and the women selected--hail from the Anglosphere (specifically the US, though the magazine is based in Great Britain), it provides a good indicator of what is attractive in the eyes of northwestern European-descended men.

One conceivable disadvantage in trying to gauge the demographic characteristics of sexual attractiveness by using such a list is that the women included are not obscure. Achieving some level of fame is a prerequisite to being considered for inclusion.

But much of that fame is garnered by attractiveness in the first place. And even though, undoubtedly, these are not the absolutely 100 most desirable women extant, there's no reason to think that attractive women thus far passed over systematically differ from those who've been noticed. This is in contrast to gauging attractiveness from a list of porn stars who probably do systematically differ from the broader attractive population**. Girls identified early on for their physical appeal have little incentive to go in this vulgar direction. Only a small handful of those included in the list have been involved in pornography.

Further, the level of recognition is relative--these women are all accomplished in a popular sense, but they are by-and-large not the most familiar females in the public mind. Before doing the analysis, I was only at least vaguely familiar with one-quarter (25 of 100) of those who made the cut*. Admittedly, I'm not a consumer of much popular culture (I've never looked at an actual Maxim in my life), but just scoping out Yahoo news each day means I'm aware of far more than 25 female celebrities.**

The following table presents the data on characteristics that are determinable for everyone included. The percentages look a little goofy given a 100-person list, but Maxim had to do what creators of similar lists so often do by including a single entry that actually comprises five people (the Pussycat Dolls). So I drew upon my shallow knowledge of US history and counted each of these women as one-fifth of a person.


Average age27.6 years
Average height^5' 5.6''
Race^^
White81.15%
Hispanic^^^8.85%
Black6.35%
Asian3.65%
Eye color~
Brown47.6%
Blue27.2%
Green25.2%
Eyes (whites only)
Blue35.1%
Brown33.8%
Green31.0%
Hair color~~
Blond48.4%
Brown39.2%
Black10.4%
Red2.0%
Hair (whites only)
Blonde62.3%
Brown32.5%
Black2.6%
Red2.6%


^Figures for height are estimated conservatively--when I found conflicting numbers, I averaged them when there were multiple estimates on the high end and fewer or just one on the low end, but disregarded lone high figures when the majority of sources reported the woman to be shorter.
^^Mixed-race women are split between the two-plus groups they belong to. So Alicia Keys adds .5% to both the black and white totals. Only ten (plus a couple of the PussyCat Dolls) of the 100 women included are mixed.
^^^ I didn't include Christina Aguilera, Cameron Diaz, Fergie, Sofia Vergara, Paz Vega, or Penelope Cruz in the Hispanic category as they all appear to be (and look) quite European. Others, like Kat Von D and Eva Mendes, who look to be much more Spaniard than Indian, are counted as Hispanic. I'm comfortable that if anything, the 8.85% Hispanic figure is high. Perhaps "Amerindian" might be a better designation, which is more-or-less what comes to the minds of most when they see the term "Hispanic" anyhow.
~ In the case of hazel eyes, which tend to be brown nearer the pupil and become progressively more green as the distance from it increases, I went with what color (brown or green) seemed to dominate in photos of the women.
~~ Current, not necessarily natural, hair color. It's a tough attribute since 'hot' women feel the need to be so capricious with their hair.

White women dominate, specifically women with Nordic features. The average height is about 1.5 inches taller than that of the US female population at large. Among whites, blond hair is significantly overrepresented. Blue eyes are as well, to a slightly lesser extent. A study from '02 of Americans born between 1936 and 1951 found 33.8% had blue eyes, a significant decline from the 57.4% born at the beginning of the 20th Century who had them.

Presumably that proportion has come close to being cut in half yet again for those born in the US today, as more than half of newborns are non-whites. I've not been able to find anything confirming it explicitly, though epidemiologist Mark Grant puts it at about 17%. Sienna Miller (pictured nearby) captures this profile pretty well and probably comes the closest to encompassing all the attributes tending towards our conception of female beauty.

Multiple bios reported some Native American ancestry, but never traced any specific lineage. The list doesn't contain much in the way of raised cheekbones or hooked noses, so I basically disregarded the presumably small contribution made by these women's warrior ancestors.

Orthogonally, why hasn't Clander done a post on how whiterpeople love claiming to be Native American due to a great-great-great grandfather who was half Cherokee? "Protecting the environment is in my blood."

I'm surprised at the small number of Asian women represented. Two-thirds of Maxim's subscribers are college graduates, and the average annual household income of its readership is $65,000. This would, I presume, represent a segment of the white population that is predisposed to finding Asian women attractive. Might this have something to do with Asians (East Asians, anyway, which is where most white attraction for Asians is directed) floundering in the sphere of non-animated/computer-generated entertainment?

With the exception of Gabrielle Union, the black women included do not have prominent West African features. Caramel skin and European features (like Rihanna's green eyes) are a plus. This confirms an analysis conducted by Inductivist Ron Guhname in the supermarket a few months back.

While a light complexion is desirable, red hair is not. Only a couple (three if Lindsey Lohan's auburn hair is counted as red) of flaming Amarants are present.

The average age is higher than what the relentless scholar on girliness as it relates to budding men, Agnostic, renders peak age to be. He puts it between 22-24, and uses data from a 'modeling' agency to arrive at just under 23 years as the zenith. I suspect the age of the beholder factors in to some extent (although the most desirable age for the female will only increase at a small fraction of the rate of a man's age as he gets older). The average Maxim subscriber is 27 (which more likely means something close to 27 years and six months), the average age of the women on the list.

It's not included above, but places of origin are worth remarking on as well. Four-fifths were born in the US, and many of those born outside the US (almost all in the West) now live and work stateside. Of those, a full 20 were born in California, more than twice the number expected based on population distribution alone. Twelve were born in New York, similarly twice what population alone would predict. More attractive women in these states, or is it more the result of lots of media and modeling agencies based in these places? Texas, with eight, was also overrepresented.

Also, although manly men like to cackle about how they find lesbianism 'hot', the list seems devoid of lesbians. Tila Tequila and Nelly Furtado are bisexual, but I'm not aware of any of the other women being so (although it wasn't looked for, so I may be off the mark here).

The data are here, via Swivel.

* I'm familiar with five of the eight black women (and three of the four 'unmixed' blacks). When you spend time in a place where the metro's hip-hop station is constantly being played, it's hard not to hear about black celebrities--the DJs talk about virtually nothing else.

** Some of the women, like Whitney Able, are virtually impossible to find any information on. The only source I found on her reported an age of 38, which strikes me as too old given her physical appearance. (I estimated her age to be 28--she was the only person that an age estimation was necessary for).

*** Specifically, porn stars (I think, although I own no pornographic material and have never seen more than a few seconds at a time--I'm going off of the photos provided via Agnostic's agency which are for mature eyes only) tend to have luscious upper torsos and backsides, but relatively mediocre facial features that tend towards manliness (for lack of a better descriptor, black guys I know would consider them hotter than I would). The genuine celebrities in Maxim's list, by contrast, approximate real beauty in more than just a sexual sense.

26 comments:

n/a said...

it provides a good indicator of what is attractive in the eyes of northwestern European-descended men.

Not really. Lists of this sort have little to do with innate physical attractiveness (beyond some relatively low minimum threshold) and more to do with media image / hype.

Pussycat Dolls and "Kat Von D"? You've gotta be fucking kidding me. What's this? They have marketing tie-ins on Maxim's site? How surprising.

Nor would women who look like "Beyoncé" or "Rihanna" make it anywhere near the top 15 if this list were actually composed based on the preferences of "northwestern European-descended men".

This would, I presume, represent a segment of the white population that is predisposed to finding Asian women attractive.

Why would you say that?

Anonymous said...

more than half of newborns are non-whites

Already? I read somewhere that 57% of young children are white.

Where did you find this information on newborns?

Anonymous said...

Redheads seem to be neither under or overrepresented which I find very surprising. I would expect them to be much more popular.

Audacious Epigone said...

n/a,

Re: media hype/image, they're not the best-known celebrities around though. There are many big names that didn't make the list, like Angelina Jolie and Jessica Alba (not sure how much that says in defense of the choices though).

Re: With an educated readership, I'm thinking more in the way of John Derbyshire's spouse. And white male-Asian female marriages are three times as common as the reverse.

Anon,

In '04-'05 it was 45% under the age of five. The white percentage continues to decline. It is probably under 50% of newborns by now (if it wasn't already when that study was done).

agnostic said...

As it happens, I did some analysis on the 2006 Maxim Top 100, but for GNXP:

Height of 2006 Top 100

Ethnicity and hair color of above

In just two years, a lot has changed -- the 2006 list was darker and more ethnic. This is probably evidence of these lists being subject to fashion cycles or, as n/a mentioned, hyping up some new starlet (like the #1 this year).

However, the average height is the same. Creepy.

Someone in the comments did note that lighter eyes were overrepresented, so that's stayed somewhat the same.

The average age is highly misleading because there is an artificial floor. With porn stars, it's 18 for legal reasons, and that's low enough where it probably makes little difference. For world-famous celebrities, it takes even longer to make it big, so right there you're talking a floor of probably 23 or 24.

Porn stars obviously differ from the average in their personality traits, but so do world-famous celebrities. You don't make it big without being pretty aggressive and assertive. (I think that's why they're a bit taller -- helps in the competition.) And they likely are more attention-whoring than the average female (drama club, remember them?).

You're right about porn stars having manlier faces, though, which probably goes with having bigger rumps.

I think porn stars are a better data source because they're selected for so little else than looks (again, aside from traits they share with actresses). Certainly most of the viewers of US porn are Northwestern Euro males -- and not female, which is also a bias in who becomes a world-famous celebrity, who has to sell to both sexes.

And about East Asians -- they're just not attractive (the Japanese and Southeast Asians are OK). They rarely show up in sexy celebrities lists like this one, among porn stars, or among winners of intl beauty pageants. Whatever guys find appealing about them, it's not their looks (usually it's being well behaved and a bit nerdy).

agnostic said...

And the bi-coastal pattern is due to greater assortative mating for looks there. This produces greater variance, so there's more ugly people there, but also more really good-looking ones, who the sex symbols are drawn from.

agnostic said...

OK, final thoughts.

As I mentioned in my GNXP posts (perhaps in the comments), it's a bit misleading to look at traits that show lots of variance among hotties when determining "what men find attractive" -- shouldn't we look at traits that show large between-group differences for very hot compared to very ugly women?

(This is similar to seeing what the work habits of top-ranked scientists are -- it ignores that the most important thing is just having a high IQ, a factor you only see by comparing them with people who have no hope of doing science.)

For instance, tight, flawless skin, large eyes, full lips, lustrous hair, etc. All of the top 100 in any year will have these, while a group of very ugly women will have none.

Age is another: the hottest women would be concentrated in the 20s, the ugliest women above 40 or 50.

But eye color, hair color, and height would not show such striking between-group differences. That's why, even if light eyes or light hair are more frequent among hotties than chance, they don't dominate (the way flawless skin does). These traits are more matters of taste, subject to fashion, etc.

I also sense a Kantian bias here about beauty -- something above and beyond vulgar attractiveness or get-your-blood-pumping hotness. That's fine, but it means we're talking about two different things: I'm only interested in the latter (it's the one that evolution pays attention to).

n/a said...

A quick search shows both Jolie and Alba were on the list last year--#12 and #2, respectively. Obviously Maxim will want to keep the list fresh by changing up as many names as possible each year, and this is another factor that will tend to diminish its correspondence with any objective, purely physical ranking (women's attractiveness will change over time, and new stars will appear, but not enough to change any meaningful ranking to that degree--e.g. #2 to #101+).

By "media image / hype" I don't mean these are the biggest celebrities in terms of pure fame, but that they've been marketed to appeal to the fantasies of adolescents and extended adolescents, or Maxim believes they easily can be.

Incidentally, Maxim's editor is named James Kaminsky, which doesn't exactly strike a "northwestern European-descended" chord for me.


White-Asian marriages remain rare. The overwhelming majority of white men marry white women.

Do you really think Derbyshire married his wife because he thought she was the most physically-attractive woman in the world? Derbyshire does not strike me as someone likely to have had unlimited options in that department.

I thought you might have gone with the claim that white-Asian marriages are more common among college graduates, and I think this may actually be true. Even if it is, the white college student/graduate will tend to have much more contact with Asians, and be more likely to intermarry for that reason alone. Anecdotally, the white men who become involved with Asian women do so because they are unsuccessful with white women. And Asian women will prefer to target (socially-inept) financially successful rather than unsuccessful white men.

It strikes me as highly implausible that college graduates would be any more "predisposed to find Asian women" physically attractive than non-graduates. The overwhelming majority of white college graduates, again, marry other whites.

agnostic said...

Another thing that keeps showing up -- not just tight and flawless skin, but light-colored skin. That shows pretty high sex dimorphism, much more than hair or eye color:

Sex dimorphism in eye, hair, and skin color

Blue eyes are a bit more male-typical, brown eyes a bit more female-typical, and green eyes are very female-typical (females are 2 - 3 times more likely to have green eyes).

Blond hair is a bit more male-typical, brown or black hair a bit more female-typical, and red hair is pretty female-typical.

Light skin is also pretty female-typical.

I still think we pay lots of attention to sexually dimorphic traits -- just the ones that are really dimorphic, like having breasts or a nice ass, an hourglass shape, etc.

If we pay too much attention to eye and hair color, which aren't very dimorphic, we would conclude that the 2008 Maxim list shows how much guys love male-typical traits like blue eyes and blond hair.

Peter said...

Lindsey Lohan now claims to be lesbian. She's even talked about marrying her girlfriend, now that it's legal in California.

rob said...

If we go by Agnostic's porn-star stats, I think we would conclude that men like fake-looking breast implants. I don't but maybe I'm an outlier?

Audacious Epigone said...

Agnostic,

Much appreciated. I updated the post, but will respond to a few things I left out there in a separate post.

Rob,

Maybe you're Kantian, too :) I've incriminated myself on a couple of occasions.

The problem with enhancements is that they don't hide other signs of unattractiveness, like manly/asymmetrical faces or bad hands. If one only sees them for a second, maybe porn stars are a better measure. But the porn rejection rate must be much higher than the actressing rejection rate--lots of girls would not be interested in the former but few would turn down the latter.

Razib said...

the blue-eye numbers used as reference coming out for american whites doesn't seem plausible to me (i've seen the same numbers). we're talking very strong deviation from the numbers for northern europeans. the number of dark-eyed southern europeans can't explain it.

Peter said...

Peter corrects the non-heterosexual count by adding fallen angel Lindsey Lohan. It might be a dopey publicity stunt though, and probably wasn't known when the list was compiled.

It could well be a stunt.

On a somewhat related note, have you see the new pictures of Cynthia Nixon's girlfriend? Jesus Christ Almighty, what a butch dyke!

SFG said...

Derb's a nerd. Asian women are much more willing to marry nerds probably due to cultural values which do not stress extroversion in a mate. Look at anime; the protagonists are rarely as self-confident as they are in American cartoons.

Audacious Epigone said...

Razib,

One-in-six in the US comes to about one-quarter of US whites. Based on Peter Frost's map, you expect it to be closer to 50%? That sounds way too high on personal experience (I'd hazard about one-in-four), but I'm in a relatively heavily German- and southwestern England-descended area of the US.

Peter,

Heh, no, I'm pretty oblivious to tabloid entertainment. I didn't even remotely recognize most of Maxim's list.

sfg,

Right, they tend to be dutiful and pretty introverted, although in rpg land really much less so than a decade ago--the unassuming smartass seems to have started an insurgency.

Audacious Epigone said...

Ah, now I have seen a picture of 'her'.

Anonymous said...

The most complete analyses of female beauty I have found are at femininebeauty.info

Agree or disagree, but there's a lot to sink your teeth into there.

Audacious Epigone said...

Thanks, I'll check it out.

Anonymous said...

"blue hair and blonde eyes" lol

Anonymous said...

Rihanna DOESNT have green eyes. those are contacts.
If you look at all pictures of her from 2005, her eyes are a like a hazel brown coulour
then when she got a bob, in her shut up and drive video they were a really light brown
then in her take a bow video her eyes are a really light green.
Maybe you cant tell because she has light skin.
but then again her skin colour too has got noticebly lighter since her music of the sun days
so just like how she pulls off those weaves that look like her real hair, shes able to pull off ocontacts too.

Audacious Epigone said...

Anon,

Oh, I recall reading a profile of her in some magazine like People (nevermind why--I was at someone's house and really had nothing else to flip through, I swear) in which it was reported that the green eyes are natural. But Google searching now shows most returns saying they're brown.

Anonymous said...

Sorry agnostic. East Asians are very attractive. The Japanese and Mongolians are the most attractive followed by Koreans and then Chinese followed by Vietnamese, Burmese, Thai etc followed by Filipinos, Malays and Indonesians at the bottom.

Anonymous said...

And among Caucasian Asians, Iranians are the most attractive as they look a lot like Whites, followed by Turks and Lebanese/Syrian/Jordanian Arabs while Sri Lankans and South Indians are the ugliest among them.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone going to talk about how the black women DO have extremely African features except for their coloring? Rihanna is a great example. Look at her nose, lips and general facial strucutre.

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone!
I would like to burn a theme at here. There is such a thing, called HYIP, or High Yield Investment Program. It reminds of ponzy-like structure, but in rare cases one may happen to meet a company that really pays up to 2% daily not on invested money, but from real profits.

For several years , I make money with the help of these programs.
I don't have problems with money now, but there are heights that must be conquered . I make 2G daily, and my first investment was 500 dollars only.
Right now, I managed to catch a guaranteed variant to make a sharp rise . Visit my web site to get additional info.

http://theinvestblog.com [url=http://theinvestblog.com]Online Investment Blog[/url]