01.30.11

20 Vainest Cities

Which American cities spend the most time and money to look good? From L.A. to Miami, The Daily Beast studies the statistics to determine the country’s capitals of narcissism.

Gallery: America’s 20 Vainest Cities

In the age of Botox, the commercialization of everything from eyelash tinting to spray tanning and the continued growth of fad diets and trendy exercise regimens, being “perfect” has never been so attainable nor the pursuit so tempting. As The New York Times recognized, in the last decade “the body became the new attire, a mutable status symbol subject to trends in proportion, silhouette, technology, and disposable income.”

So The Daily Beast sought to figure out which major metro areas across the country exert the most effort to look good—by spending time in the spa, sweating in the gym, or shelling out for personal-care products.

We culled the list by starting with the 25 cities with the largest percentage of the population that belongs to gyms, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association.

To focus on which cities are most successful at keeping their waists whittled, we then measured the percentage of residents for each city was neither overweight nor obese, according to BMI statistics tabulated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most crucially, because fitness and exercise can also be a mark of health independent of vanity, we ranked these cities based on average household monthly spending on personal care—which encompasses costs from drugstores, cosmetic stores, spas, gyms, and salons, according to Bundle.com, a database of spending data culled from government and private sources. This criteria carried a double weight in our rankings.