Tampa, a city famous for its warm weather and various beaches, will now hold new notoriety – the title of vainest city in America.
In an article Men’s Health Magazine published last month ranking the top 100 cities where appearance is everything, Tampa was ranked first followed by such cities as Plano,TX, Atlanta and Las Vegas.
The rankings were determined by factors such as rates of cosmetic procedures, botox users, hair-dye jobs, cosmetic products such as teeth whiteners and shapewear sales, and per-capita rates of cosmetic dentists, plastic surgeons and tanning salons.
To find these numbers, Men’s Health used sources such as the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Experian Marketing Services and SimplyMap.
The ratings came as a shock to some residents of the city.
“I would think New York or L.A. would be higher,” said Heather Nickl, a junior majoring in Creative Writing. “But it probably has something to do with all the beaches in Tampa. People want to look good at the beach.”
Yet, the city of Los Angeles was ranked No. 60 on the list, and New York was ranked No. 17. Des Moines, Iowa was lowest on the list. Miami was ranked eighth on the list, giving the sunshine state two top-ten cities on the list of vanity.
But the results did not come as a surprise to others.
Krystina Butler, a junior majoring in English Literature, said she has seen her fair share of vanity in Tampa.
“I knew people in high school who had plastic surgery done as graduation presents from their parents,” Butler said. “Although, it may be more of a wealth thing. It was mainly kids with wealthy parents that had that type of thing done.”
The procedures, she said, ranged from surgeries such as Rhinoplasty (nose procedures) to breast augmentations.
The speculations on inaccuracy from the article are wide – Dr. Meier said that it was an inaccurate way of determining vanity-said a survey or actually study would be more accurate, and Nickl said she doesn’t agree with the methods used.
“I don’t really think teeth whitening and tanning are good indicators of a person being vain,” Nickl said.
So what exactly makes a person “vain” or appearance-oriented?
Laurenz Meier, a USF Psychology researcher visiting from Switzerland, says vanity appears, or becomes more extreme, with exposure to other vain people around you.
“If your peers and colleagues are more vain, you might become more vain,” he said. “Your peers can often shape you.”
Meier said that genetics and occurrences in one’s childhood also lead to future vanity or narcissism.
Although some assume that vanity is more prevalent among women, Meier said that there hasn’t been solid evidence of the trait being more common in a certain gender.
Meier said that though vanity is one of the dimensions of narcissism, vain people aren’t always narcissists. If one is simply vain but is not a narcissist, he said, these issues tend to fade away with age.
“College students, or younger people in general, are more contingent with regard to appearance. There have been studies that show that when you age, you don’t care as much about what you look like,” he said. “That happens because there tends to be a change in the centrality of your life, such as having kids.”
Meier said vanity can be detrimental if it sticks with a person.
“Those who purely define themselves by what they look like don’t do well in life, and they have self-esteem issues,” he said.