Shocker: Miami Is the Vainest City in the World, Study Shows

A new study shows Miami is the most beauty-obsessed of 50 of the world's largest cities.
A new study shows Miami is the most beauty-obsessed of 50 of the world's largest cities. Photo by Keith Ellwood / Flickr
You're so vain you probably think this article is about you, don't you? Well, if you live in Miami, it probably is. World-famous for butt-lifts and Botox, the Magic City has a reputation for being shallow that precedes it.

That's according to a new study conducted by fashion blog the YesStylist, which shows Miami is the most beauty-obsessed of 50 of the world's largest cities. The report's authors ranked cities based on the number of gyms, fitness clubs, salons, spas, and fashion events in town, as well as the average quality of clothing stores and the level of online interest in beauty topics. For Miamians who long ago lost count of the number of CrossFit gyms, designer boutiques, and DermaClinic locations popping up in their neighborhoods, the results should come as no surprise.

Though Miami doesn't come in first in any of the categories, it places in the top ten in most, making it the overall vainest city in the world. It ranks second for the highest density of beauty salons in the world, just behind Cape Town, South Africa, and places sixth when it comes to the number of gyms, fitness clubs, and spas per 100,000 residents.

Miami misses the top ten when it comes to fashion events and online interest in beauty topics, which was calculated by monitoring the number of Google searches including various keywords. New York, which has the most beauty and fashion events of any city on the list, boasts five times as many as Miami.

After Miami, the next five most beauty-obsessed cities are Dubai, Edinburgh, London, Bordeaux, and Paris. The five least vain cities on the list are, from least to most vain, Seoul, Istanbul, Brussels, Buenos Aires, and Hamburg.

Naturally, a study is only as good as its methodology, and when it comes to quantifying something as subjective as vanity, there are always choices regarding which metrics to use. For example, similar studies and surveys have covered how much time people spent looking in the mirror or the total number of cosmetic surgery procedures performed instead of the prevalence of gyms and salons.

But what about steroids? We know South Florida still can't get enough of those. And what about selfies? In 2014, Time released a list of the "selfie-st cities in the world" after crunching the numbers on more than 400,000 Instagram selfies. (Makati City, part of metropolitan Manila in the Philippines and home to just 500,000 residents, produced the most selfies per capita in the world. Coming in second was New York City.)

In the case of the YesStylist study, one doesn't have to look too far to find some data points worth questioning. When calculating the average quality of clothing stores in a city, the authors relied on Google review scores, which are relative and can even be artificially inflated. One might also wonder how the number of fashion and beauty shows in a city is representative of vanity, if at all.

Some of the entries on YesStylist's top 50 seem, on their face, wrong — Rio de Janeiro came in 43rd? Really? — but Miami's claim to the throne feels right. For better or for worse, this city has become synonymous with beauty obsession. It's not the crown we asked for, but it's one we'll take. Now cue the Carly Simon. 
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Manuel Madrid is a former staff writer for Miami New Times. The child of Venezuelan immigrants, he grew up in Pompano Beach. He studied finance at Virginia Commonwealth University and worked as a writing fellow for the magazine The American Prospect in Washington, D.C.