TL;DR: Is there a group of females beating fashion models in terms of sexiness?

Initial motivation

This is a follow-up to this answer which seems to imply that top models are considered the norm of beauty/attractiveness in today’s Western culture:

Closer to home, you need to look no further than Botticelli. His Venus is way plumper than today‘s top models:

Venere BotticelliSource: Wikipedia

Claim A: Fashion models are not sexy

This article by Feminine Beauty asks:

In 14 of the 15 women addressed above [models of European descent from the top-25 sexy female models as per Models.com], masculinization or a relative lack of femininity is readily observed. The question is, who finds the women other than Josie Moran sexy to start with, let alone make a top-25 list?

The implied claim that these models are not sexy is not made outright in this article, but in a summary of this article elswhere on the same site:

Yet, most of the top-ranked "sexy" fashion models are too masculine for the tastes of heterosexual men; […]

Both articles also note that (quote from the latter):

Almost all of the top-25 sexy fashion models are not among the top-50 fashion models, […]

So, assuming that this statement is correct even the makers of the “top-25 sexy fashion models” list (yes, these are those the article describes as too masculine) do not consider them top fashion models.

Claim B: Fashion models are sexy

The idea that fashion models are a beauty ideal seems to be a view hold by many young females to the extent that this idea is documented in scientific publications, e.g., J. Kevin Thompson and Leslie J. Heinberg – The Media’s Influence on Body Image Disturbance and Eating Disorders: We’ve Reviled Them, Now Can We Rehabilitate Them? report the results of respective studies (I have no access to the cited papers):

For example, in a study by Nichter and Nichter (1991), adolescent girls endorsed their ideal as the models found in fashion magazines aimed at teenage girls.

Of 3,452 women responding, 23% indicated that movie or television celebrities influenced their body image when they were young, and 22% endorsed the influence of fashion magazine models (Garner, 1997).

Note that I am not disputing these statements, which study the prevalence of the claim I am interested in, if at all.

Now, beauty ideal (or similar) is somewhat fuzzy, but for the purpose of having an investigateable statement (and only for this) it should be safe to say that sexual attractivity plays a sufficent part in it. The corresponding claim Fashion models are sexy would thus be the opposite of the above claim.


Is there a study investigating claim A or B (and thus probably rejecting the respective other). Due to the impossibility of drawing a clear line between sexy and not sexy, this probably involves a comparison with a reasonable control group, for example a comparison between:

  • Female models gaining high media attention, i.e., roughly super models or runway models as categorised by Wikipedia, that are not explicitly termed plus-size or similar.

  • A control group of females with a physiognomy that can be reasonably expected to beat fashion models in terms of sexiness, such as “plus-size” models, “booth babes” (as sexiness is a more direct criterion for them), professional athletes or even random young females with healthy body weight.

  • You are honestly taking my comments way out of context. Please find an actual claim! Then ask a question as "This example [insert an example here] claims that western culture has a beauty norm of being thin. is it true?"
    – Sklivvz
    Oct 18, 2015 at 12:25
  • Do any experts even claim that fashion models are even supposed to be sexy? I think it is just something to show off cloths. From my understanding the research is pretty settled, skinny people are just universally considered ugly.
    – Jonathon
    Oct 20, 2015 at 2:46
  • 1
    @JonathonWisnoski: Experts probably don’t, but going by the studies referenced in the question a lot of young females actually believe this. So, “a significant number of people believe it is true”.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Oct 20, 2015 at 15:28


Browse other questions tagged .