Standards Of Beauty: New York vs. Los Angeles

New York and L.A. are different in so many ways, but nothing separates them more than their contrasting ideas about beauty. Simply put, a babe in L.A. is a nay in New York. Conversely, a supermodel in New York is seen as a space alien in Los Angeles. They’re too tall and the real beauty queens here are actors who are typically 5’6″ or shorter. Seriously, celebrities are like famous little people. Seeing them in person is truly shocking because they usually don’t come up past your shoulder. Secrets revealed!

To be beautiful in New York, you have to be thin. I mean, you have to be thin everywhere to be considered attractive because our society is a judgmental punk but in New York especially, you have to be starving. And the city doesn’t even screw around with that whole “I’m super healthy looking from my tan but I haven’t actually eaten anything in three days” thing. That’s L.A.’s deal. L.A. is all about looking fit from your tan and drinking juices and wearing yoga pants but in reality, you are skin and bones. But New York delivers straight up anorexia to your eyes. No smoke and mirrors with this crowd.

Los Angeles likes blondes, New York prefers brunettes. L.A. is all about promoting exercise by hiking with your dogs in Runyon Canyon, taking a kickboxing class, and wearing your workout apparel 24/7 to prove that you do, in fact, work out. New Yorkers maintain their bodies in secret at expensive gyms. Workout gear is not chic and therefore can only be worn when you’re actually working out. New York also doesn’t like to show the body off. The goal is to look like you’re drowning in fabric at all times. L.A., on the other hand, loves to expose their taut tan bodies. The year-round warm weather allows them to show off their legs in sundresses and toned arms in a tank top. This city has never met a pair of denim shorts it didn’t like.

Both cities have unhealthy standards of beauty. New York is more upfront about it though. It wants you to look like a junkie. It’s begging you to put fake track marks on your arm. New York screams “WE DON’T LIKE FAT PEOPLE” whereas L.A. hisses it in a hushed whisper at a cocktail party. Both are shallow and narcissistic and want you to achieve something that’s unrealistic. It’s interesting, however, to notice that one city’s idea of class is another city’s idea of complete trash. It’s like groups of superficial people had a meeting over a hundred years ago and were like, “Okay, if you think tanning and sweatpants is cute, go here. If you’re into lots of black clothing and pale skin, go to New York. That way we can each have our own ideas of beauty and they won’t ever conflict. Yay! Now, who’s up for a bouillon cube???” TC mark

image – ©

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


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  • Adele

    You should travel to Sydney & Melbourne in Australia and you will find that if you substitute Sydney with LA and Melbourne with New York then the article would still be perfectly true.

    • guest

      Cheshire/Essex can be substituted with LA and London with New York.

      • STaugustine

        (insert teeth joke)

    • skylar

      I like to think of Sydney and Melbourne as sisters… Sydney as the blonde, beautiful specimen but not much going on inside, and Melbourne as the brunette, cultured, less obviously hot one.

      …Yes I am from Melbourne.

      • Sara

        Oh! how dare you insult Melbourne’s beauty.

        Sydney is the fake tan peroxide blonde bimbo.
        Melbourne is the slim, stylish, cultured goddess. So naturally chic- and a little pretentious.

      • guesty

        I see you’ve played knifey-spoony before

  • cecile

    Where does SF fit into this equation? 

    • guesty

      SF likes boys.  

  • Julien

    i think paris is kind of the same as new york?

    • Max Markham

      Not at all.

      • Yann Icus

        paris is like NY’s annoying little foreign cousin, running to keep up, adopting all the grownup trends (little does he know he is in fact way cooler). both are annoying little brats who will tear you a new a-hole if you forget to colour coordinate

      • fakes and ladders

        Please stop embarrassing yourself.

      • Olivia Tiberio

        The idea of Paris as “NY’s annoying little foreign cousin, running to keep up” is so absurd, I can’t even form a coherent rebuttal.

      • Yann Icus

        Mais c’est boooon quoi, si on peut plus rigoler… Parisienne dans l’ame? quelle relou :p

      • Max M

        Pahahahahahaha I want to kiss you on the mouth

      • Julien

        ok didnt really know, it just seemed like it from reading this article but ive never lived in new york

  • Ella

    This article is so true. New York is all about heroine chic/spending a lot of money to look like you live in the subway, whereas LA is all about flaunting your inner Barbie. Hard to decide which is better… 

    • guesty


      • Candice

        This, pretty much. Or Toronto.

        Though, I am currently working on probably moving to LA from Chicago and being a tall and pale brunette because I’m a little bit daffy.

      • Anonymous

        ahh Chicago peeps will never be tan considering that the sun only comes out during the summer. But Chicago fucking rules I love it there! 

      • Candice

        I spent too many years as a depressed computer nerd in Ontario to ever attempt tanning. I tried it a couple years ago as an experiment and a laugh. Wasn’t into it. Certainly wasn’t into increased freckles. Other people seemed to think I looked “healthier” and “happier”. Which seems like some garbage to me. I have a vitamin D deficiency, but that’s why they sell supplements. I actually get a rash in the sun. Fie to you, daystar!

      • Orkey


      • ll

        Thank you.

  • coffeeandinternets

    Oh god — I LOVE drowning in clothes, Ryan. New York was clearly the choice that had to be made.

    Also: “New York screams “WE DON’T LIKE FAT PEOPLE” whereas L.A. hisses it in a hushed whisper at a cocktail party.”

    I think this applies for more than just beauty standards.  We scream about everything we don’t like here, while I get the impression that in Los Angeles, everyone smiles to your face and smirks to your back.  I mean, if we’re generalizing and all.

    Although that weather there is really something, though, isn’t it?

    • Anonymous

      and this is why one should never, never, never leave new york. pessimism is like a golden retriever: happiest when romping around wide-open spaces.

    • Anonymous

      and this is why one should never, never, never leave new york. pessimism is like a golden retriever: happiest when romping around wide-open spaces.

  • Dom

    amazing piece, Bryan!
    inspiration for eating less too

    • Dom

      *Ryan! sorry :D

  • Sara K

    what a predicament- i’m skinny yet a naturally tan brunette. I should just stay in San Francisco and Portland…

  • Egle Makaraite

    I think New York can appreciate a tan. And anyway, someone can be beautiful and admired for it anywhere.

  • Sas Jam

    After living in both cities I can say:

  • Roger

    New York is ______, but L.A. is ______!

  • Anonymous

    bravo! So extremely true. (I’m from LA and always in my work out clothes and hikin at Runyon, but not with my dog).

  • Celina Munoz

    I do like the intention and some of the point are most definitely valid in a genereal sense, but only in generalization, otherwise I would disagree.

    I have lived in both cities so I do get where these come from but also where it is generalized.

  • lil b

    In Miami, it’s all about dat booty.

  • Xxx

    do you know how much salt is in a bouillon cube?? 

  • Loljame

    please. new york likes blondes just as much as la. they’re just rarer.

  • Uhnonnymus

    The actual title of this article should have been “What the midwesterners who move to NY and LA think about those cities”

  • breemeup

    Sooooo you’ve obviously never lived for any length of time in either of these cities. (:

  • Meliza Mitra

    I totally agree with you. I’m from L.A. and I’ve spent a lot of time living next to/always visiting NYC.

    BTW, All of your articles are amazing. I’m in love with you. 

  • shanebeasley

    and nebraska is where style/standards of beauty/taste goes to die.

  • KL

    Annnnd New Jersey is just plain tacky.

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