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01.31.10

The Best Looking States

Miss Virginia took Miss America Saturday. But which state’s residents rate tops for overall beauty? Which are ugliest? The Daily Beast crunches the numbers to determine bragging rights.

Newly crowned Miss America Caressa Cameron has it all—all the traits that researchers say make people attractive. Facial symmetry? Check. Youthfulness? Check. Svelte figure? Check. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," says Dr. Gordon Patzer, author of Looks: Why They Matter More Than You Ever Imagined. "But the beholders all agree."

Click the Image to View Our Gallery of the Most Attractive States

So with the swimsuits and evening gowns neatly folded, and Mario Lopez back to his day job, The Daily Beast set its lens on figuring out where the rest of the beautiful people are. Specifically, which states have the highest percentage of extremely attractive people, as well as run-of-the-mill hunks and beauties.

Here's how we calculated the ultimate home state bragging rights. First, we determined who had the most stunners-per-capita (allowing Connecticut and California an equal playing field), tallying the hometowns of more than 300 male and female fashion models, plus 125 men mentioned in 10 years' worth of People's "Sexiest Man Alive" issues. Then, we accounted for the results of the Miss America and Miss USA pageants for the past decade. Finally, in order to measure general attractiveness, we factored in health and fitness data for each state from 2006-2008, ranked by the Trust for America's Health. Each of those three criteria—models, pageant winners, fitness—was weighed equally, with any ties broken by which state performed best in the latter category.

The results prove that beauty is a national asset: the looks leaders encompass north, south, east and west. (Though, interestingly, every state in the top 10 voted for Obama in 2008.) There was some consistency among the laggards: almost all have very cold winters. And the winning state? It's not actually a state. Intrigued? Read on.

Plus: Check out more of the latest entertainment, fashion, and culture coverage on Sexy Beast—photos, videos, features, and Tweets.

Clark Merrefield led the research for these rankings, assisted by Tali Yahalom and Jaimie Etkin.