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Pittsburgh is so vain, at least No. 6, Men's Health magazine says

| Thursday, June 28, 2012, 9:07 p.m.
Laurie McAdam illustration. The Modesto Bee 2007.
Laurie McAdam illustration. The Modesto Bee 2007.

Pittsburgh can add one more title to its mantle.

The city with more Super Bowls, bridges and ham BBQ recipes than anyone else is listed in the July/August issue of Men's Health magazine as No. 6 among America's Top 10 vainest cities.

Apparently, we're more stuck up than Miami (No. 8) and San Francisco (No. 9).

According to the survey, a first for the magazine, people from Tampa (No. 1); Plano, Texas (No. 2); and Atlanta (No. 3 ) have their noses — natural and fixed — highest in the air.

More down-to-earth folks, without the vanity streak, can be found in places like Des Moines (No. 100); Lincoln, Neb. (No. 99); and Sioux Falls, S.D. (No. 98).

Pittsburgh earned the moniker partly because of its high per-capita volume of plastic surgeons, tanning salons and cosmetic-dentistry offices. The magazine used marketing services to find out each city's percentage of Botox users, folks who go for dye jobs and people who will spend anything to look younger. It also examined sales of products such as at-home hair dyes and teeth whiteners. Foursquare provided information on where people check into those salons most often.

“I lift weights, and walk three miles a day,” says Jim Wehrheim, of Marshall, one of the nearly 1 million men who underwent some form of plastic surgery in 2011. He's scheduled for a touch-up next week, asking, “Why shouldn't you finish the package?”

To hear the magazine describe it, “vanity” gets a bad wrap.

“I don't think anyone would argue that it's a bad thing to look good and to put their best foot forward,” says Matt Marion, executive editor for Men's Health. “Especially, at a time when the economy is hurting and unemployment is high, people are trying to make a good first impression.

“It shows people there take pride in their appearance.”

The issue hit newsstands Tuesday.

The city is home to almost two dozen plastic-surgery centers and even more tanning salons, all of which say they've seen more male clients lately.

“Men aren't any busier than women … but they're less inclined to take time off for surgery,” says Dr. Leo R. McCafferty, president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, who runs a plastic-surgery practice in Shadyside.

Equating Pittsburgh with vanity might go a bit far, says Miyoshi Anderson, a model and executive director of Pittsburgh Fashion Week. She describes the Steel City as being more “modest and humble.”

People generally are more prone to focus on doing things that make them look better if they feel healthy, she says.

And, in Pittsburgh, many residents try to stay active and healthy, which could tip the vanity scale.

“Many people here … want to feel and look great,” Anderson says. “ If that means working on your physique, or doing something structural, to each his own.”

The city has invested heavily in recent years into expanding and improving trail systems, parks, athletic facilities, and starting an urban-bicycling program — all healthy activities Anderson says might make Pittsburgh seem image conscious to outsiders.

“When you hear staggering number of diabetes and obesity, it makes people more aware of their appearance and the importance of looking great and feeling great,” Anderson says. “And, when you feel great and look great, you're more productive.”

Wehrheim, a 62-year-old investment broker, scanned the Internet for weeks before he settled on a plastic surgeon to erase a double chin that crept up on him during the years.

Wehrheim underwent the procedure last year.

“People want to invest with someone they think is going to be around for a while,” Wehrheim says.

Nationally, men and women spent nearly $10.7 billion on 9.2 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures in 2011, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Women account for 91 percent of plastic-surgery patients, but men have fast become less shy about going under the knife and needle in recent years.

Men had about 800,000 cosmetic procedures in 2011, accounting for a 121-percent increase from 1997.

“You have to do it for yourself, not because your wife or someone else says you should do it,” Wehrheim says. “It's an investment in yourself.”

Chris Ramirez is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at cramirez@tribweb.com or 412-380-5682.

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