January 20, 2008

What American Apparel models teach us

If I don't accomplish as much in this life as I'd like to, I blame Michael Blowhard for introducing me to the models of American Apparel. No, not for wasting time in that way -- at least there, you can put out the fire and get on with real life. But when I go to that website, I just can't stop staring. But now that I've grown somewhat habituated to the images, here are a few lessons on human nature and biodiversity I learned while perusing that ruinous website.* Their ads focus only on raw sex appeal -- not luxury, glamour, and so on, as with other fashionable clothing. So for once, the data are free of a host of confounding factors.

1) African-American girls are not very attractive on average. There are 2 on the site (out of about 70): one who looks light-brown and has non-African facial features, and another who looks biracial. Since it is more their facial features that make them look non-African, it seems that this is what holds African women back in sex appeal.

2) Short or average girls are sexier. You see very few leggy girls on that site. This agrees with the finding that adult film stars are exactly average, and that short females are more fertile. AA doesn't list height data, so unfortunately I can't determine the mean and run a significance test. But it's clear "by inspection," as the mathematicians say.

3) There is likely something to the idea that girls turn their eyes away when flirting. Do Ctrl F "Nour" and click on her pictures. As the slideshow runs, you'll see two pictures (#3 and #8) where she's making this expression. Why girls do this, I speculated on in the link above. But here's more data that it nearly always involves looking to the right (and maybe a bit upwards too). Judging from her name, she is probably Arab, Persian, or South Asian, so this is further cross-cultural data on this trait. It is like smiling: everyone does it, and it means the same everywhere. Also, under the "bathing suits" pictures of Valeria, there are two pictures of her doing this -- one including a look to the left!

4) Blondes are not hot. I counted about 5 blondes and 1 redhead. Of all the girls in Sweden, they picked Sabina, who has chestnut hair! Whatever appeal blondes have is thus not due to sex appeal. Blonde hair is associated with greater behavioral inhibition within a population, so guys who dig blondes may be looking for a less wild partner. This agrees with other data on sex symbols that they are not very blonde either.**

5) Lingerie is made mostly for women to compete with each other, not to appear maximally sexy for their boyfriend or husband. Although maybe it exists to flatter less attractive figures. If the female is attractive, the hottest she can do is wear boy shorts like the "more views" pictures of these or these (probably NSFW). They're just androgynous enough, but no more. And they have just the right hint of ephebophilia, but no more.

Readers are welcome to include their own observations in the comments. I'll pre-empt Peter and say that most models do not sport natural hair down there, so let's move beyond that.

* Aside from the obvious, like large eyes and full lips are attractive, younger females are more attractive than older ones, and so forth.

** In the comments to that post, there are data from online dating services showing a slight advantage for lighter hair in females, but again the real world is messy -- AA ads don't have the confounds of all those other qualities men use in selecting a mate. Yes, "all those other qualities," we're not beasts.


  1. Almost none of these girls are hot. Most aspire to "unconventionally attractive." Bad hair, uneven features, etc. A few will develop into beauties as they grow up. Most will plunge into trashitude.

  2. Nah, they're all pretty hot. Large eyes, full lips, tight skin, bodies in shape, etc etc. Very conventional. If they were going for unconventional, there would be girls who Black, pudgy / overweight, over 30, and so on. Gorgeous, stunning -- not really, but definitely hot.

    They're mostly not going to plunge into trashitude either. Many may become dopey, flaky, boho, or tiresome, but that's different from trashy. And then many may not. They're pretty young, and personality is still very much up for grabs during one's late teens and 20s (by 30 it's pretty much set).

  3. In the comments to that post, there are data from online dating services showing a slight advantage for lighter hair in females, but again the real world is messy -- AA ads don't have the confounds of all those other qualities men use in selecting a mate.

    I think you were actually thinking of the Blondes are not sexier post. The evidence provided in the comments goes beyond the dating sites. For instance, in experiments where men rate the attractiveness of faces, the same face is given a higher rating when it is given blonde hair. Similarly, waitresses with bigger breasts, lower BMI, and blonder hair get bigger tips from men.

    All together the evidence does point to a slight blonde preference, at least in America during the general time period.

  4. No, what you guys are not getting is that american apparel is not a rubric for beauty standards.


    He is obsessed with diversity, and yet this will be our new reality (especially since he markets to the future, the teens and kids).

    He's just more forthright about the "browning of america" than others. He gets it.

    Note his "legalize LA" illegal immigration campaign and how he used to note models races/ethnicities/nationalities in each ad... for example;
    "Talia is half-polish,half mexican and works out our ______ store"

  5. theres not alot of Black models because we can ALL AGREE that black people dont wear american apparel lol :P

    im black soo, i would know haha


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