The Next German Top Model will be thin

The ‘top model’ Heidi Klum presents a TV show: Germany’s Next Top Model, basically a contest for a bunch of girls who want to become a top model (date actors, eat carrots, spend hours getting your hair done, dress lightly and get paid a whole lot of money while doing that). Recently one of the candidates was dismissed and the reasons were somewhat controversial:

Irina’s misfortune was her height-weight ratio — she weighed 52 kilograms (114.5 pounds) and was 1.76 meters (5 feet 9 inches) tall. With that kind of body, Irina, 19, was used to being adoringly ogled, but on supermodel Heidi Klum’s television show “Germany’s Next Top-Model” her body became her downfall. “Too fat,” was the verdict handed down by the show’s jury. The svelte Irina was sent home.
Der Spiegel

The poor thing has a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 16.8, which places her under the 5th percentile for her age. In theory, she could very well be an anorexic.

One wonders: do only extremely thin/skinny girls get a chance at becoming a top model? “Germany’s Next Top Model” (Prosieben) actually publishes dimensions and measurements for all girls. Which means that, if one were to throw those into a spreadsheet, one could make some graphs of that, couldn’t one? And so it happened that that was exactly what I did. Here are some results:


50% anorexic
The average BMI is 17,6. Granted, there are some 16-years olds amongst them (younger girls typically have smaller BMIs – cf BMI percentile for girls (PDF)) but more than half would be considered a candidate for anorexia by a US nutrition specialist (see remark). The lowest BMI was Katrin (23y, 171cm, 46kg) with 15,7 and the highest Ramona (17y, 173cm, 61kg) with 20,4. Both didn’t make it to the final selection. Heidi Klum herself is also a small eater: 17,2.
REMARK: the indicator used is: below the 5th percentile in that age group. It indicates a risk for anorexia. Keep in mind that “anorexia nervosa => exceptionally thin” does not mean “exceptionally thin => anorexia nervosa” (classical ‘non-sequitur‘)). The only percentile numbers I found are for the US population, but remember that the average weight in the States (27% overweight) is significantly higher than Germany (19%) or Belgium (12% overweight). So a woman with a BMI of 18 in the US can be considered ‘exceptionally thin’, while the same weight/height ratio in Belgium is not that exceptional. I have several female friends with a BMI of 18 or lower, and I can assure you they do not have any eating disorder.


Curves vs BMI
OK, bear with me for a moment. I also had the bust/waist/hips measurements. But I wanted a single number instead of 3. So I did the following: there is this 90-60-90 ideal that men seem to prefer (the ‘average man’ presumably, my hands are too small). Think “Monica Belluci” (perfect 100%)! Now calm your breathing and read on. So I came up with a CURVE (or ‘wasp‘) coefficient that scores 100% for that mythical 90-60-90 and that grows the more wasp-like the figure is (waist/[[hip+bust]/2] is smaller) and the more symmetric it is (hip/bust is 1). To get a feeling for it: the minimal score is 76% for Jennifer (80-66-91) and the maximum score is 97% for Missy (90-62-90). Heidi Klum scores an average 93% (88-61-86). There is of course a correlation between BMI and CURVE. It’s kinda hard to be a 90-60-90 and be exceptionally thin. Something’s gotta give.


  • BMI: is not the defining factor for making it in a “Top Model” kind of show (in the sense of: the lower the better). What a relief! Although, a look at the chart shows that having an ‘unusual’ BMI does not help: all candidates with a BMI below 17 or above 18 are no longer in the running.
  • CURVE: Monica Belluci would have a hard time here. The least curvy girl (76% Jennifer, mainly because of her err… less significant chest area) is still in there. All candidates with a CURVES coefficient above 93% are out.
  • QUALITY/QUANTITY: I am confident that, in order to win a contest like that, a lot of other qualities are more important than measurements (say: IQ, character, confidence, prettiness) but I limited myself here to an exercise in Excel statistics.
  • TOPIC: statistics and pretty women: I love it. Any related stuff I should dive in to? Actresses? European models compared to US models? Spanish vs German?

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3 thoughts on “The Next German Top Model will be thin

  1. Anonymous

    brilliant… Like they would say on slashdot:

    1/ keep on studying,

    2/ before you know it you can filter potential topmodels from

    3/ make an app and market it to top model agencies.

    4/ profit!


  2. Pingback: » Blog Archive » BMI is not perfect

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