66 Women Who Wowed 2012

In 2011, Kate Upton dropped everyone’s jaw and consequently topped our list of Woman Who Wowed. But that was over a year ago. A lot’s changed since 2011. Ms. Upton is no longer a single teenage model, actual barbie dolls walk among us, and the United States won a whole lotta gold in the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

So which women dropped our jaws in 2012? Who are this year’s Bibi Joneses and Rebecca Blacks — the women who made enough headlines to secure a spot with the real stars? Find out below in our 66 Women Who Wowed: 2012 Edition.



#66 Beyonce / #65 Morena Baccarin / #64 Keeley Hazell


#63 Dania Suarez / #62 Jennifer Nicole Lee / #61 Claire Danes

Olivia Culpo

#60 Olivia Culpo Banner

When it comes to winning beauty pageants, Olivia Culpo is batting 1.000. She entered Miss Rhode Island USA (her first pageant) in 2011 and moved onto Miss USA 2012, which she won. The next step on her journey to pageant domination is Miss Universe, which begins December 19th in Las Vegas, NV. (Click here to see more of her photos)


#59 Nina Agdal / #58 The Sexxxtons / #57 Jenna Marbles


#56 Rebel Wilson / #55 Heather Clem / #54 Natalia Siwiec

Anna Watson

#53 Anna Watson

People might not know the name Anna Watson, but if you talk about “that muscular cheerleader from Georgia,” you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a response. Anna took the web by storm in early 2012 when photos of her flexing during the 2011-2012 season went viral. Sadly, she disappeared from the spotlight almost immediately after entering it when she ruptured her achilles heel a week after people had started talking about her. As of the time this article was published, still cheerleads for the University of Georgia. (Click here to see more of her photos)


#52 Honey Boo Boo / #51 Lolo Jones / #51 Emilia Clarke


#49 Lana Del Rey / #48 Meryl Streep / #47 Larissa Fraser


46. Madonna

What a year Madonna had: opening with possibly the biggest gig in the world — the Super Bowl halftime show — and culminating with the announcement that her MDNA tour was the most successful of 2012, grossing a whopping $228 million. So no matter how gross you find her stringy arms or her aging pop music, she deserves a “wow” simply for still being relevant at age 54. (Click here to see more of her)


#45 Nicole Trunfio / #44 Genesis Rodriguez / #43 Anne Hathaway


#42 Berenice Marlohe / #41 Rachel Wray / #40 Missy Franklin

Alison Williams

39. Allison Williams

Allison Williams went from being nothing but the daughter of NBC News Anchor Brian Williams to a full fledged star (with the help of Lena Dunham) on HBO’s Girls. Whether it was bathroom masturbation scenes or just looking straight-up gorgeous various evening gowns on the show, she’s a great reason to get ready for the Season 2 premiere of Girls. (Click here to see more of her photos)


#38 Paulina Gretzky / #37 Carly Rae Jespen / #36 Amanda Seyfried


#35 Valeria Lukyanova / #34 Tulisa Contostavlos / #33 Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

Olivia Munn-2

32. Olivia Munn

2012 was a big year for Olivia Munn, in some ways more than she might have liked. Yes, she reaffirmed her status as a legitimate actress in the HBO showThe Newsroom but was also dealt a pretty serious blow when graphic photos (alleged to be of Olivia) were released. (Click here to see more of her photos)


#31 Lauren Tannenhill / #30 Whitney Houston / #29 Antonija Misura


US Women Gymnastics Team

25. US Women Gymnastics Team

Jordyn Wieber became America’s sympathy story after missing individual qualifying. Gabby Douglass took the individual all-around. Aly Raisman took top honors at the floor exercise. McKayla Maroney became an internet meme. And even Kyla Ross brought a gold medal home because (do we need to remind you?) the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team won all-around gold for the first time since 1996. (Click here for more)


#24 Jessica Pare / #23 Kate Middleton / #22 Robin Roberts


#21 Miley Cyrus / #20 Xenia Deli / #19 Adele

Bar Refaeli

18. Bar Refaeli

It was never one single defining moment that Bar Refaeli had this year to land her so high on our list, but rather numerous headlines. She was voted #1 on Maxim’s Hottest list, was rumored to date Shaun White, made that hilarious Kickstarter video for a sex tape, and posed for some of the biggest magazines in the world. Perhaps her crowning achievement, though, lies in the underwear company Under.Me that she inspires and designs — it debuted this year. (Click here for more of her photos)


#17 Taylor Swift / #16 Jessica Chastain / #15 Michelle Jenneke


#14 Paula Broadwell / #13 Mila Kunis / #12 Selena Gomez

Kim Hyun-A-2

11. Kim Hyun-A

Somehow, 2012 was the year South Korea put itself on the pop culture map. Was there any song bigger than Psy’s “Gangnam Style”? Judged by YouTube streams, the answer is an emphatic no. And the featured female in that most viewed video of all time: K-pop star Hyuna. Though her own single “Ice Cream” had nowhere near the impact “Gangnam Stye” did, it still reached nearly 30 million views. Now she’s also rode Psy coattails onto our list as well. (Click here for more of her photos)


#10 Sara Jean Underwood / #9 Lena Dunham / #8 Rihanna


#7 Barbara Palvin / #6 Lindsay Lohan / #5 US Women’s Soccer Team

Kate Upton

4. Kate Upton

Yes yes, we know. Kate Upton is on pretty much all of our lists. But is there anyone out there who wants to argue she hasn’t earned that distinction? She landed the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover, posed for what could be the single hottest GQ issue ever, and could be found pretty much everywhere else that wanted a guaranteed audience. (Click here to see more of her photos)

Ronda Rousey-2

3. Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey is the hottest name in MMA right now, a status not to be taken lightly. Although she’s been dominating the competition since the Olympics in 2008, it was after she was quoted as saying that she’d like to “beat up” Kim Kardashian did people really start taking notice (it also didn’t hurt that she posed nude in ESPN: The Body issue). Now, she’s landed the main event fight for UFC 157, a first for women’s fighters. Considering that it’s the fastest growing sport in the world, that’s a mighty big deal. (Click here to see more of her photos)

Jennifer Lawrence-2

2 Jennifer Lawrence

Landing the lead role in The Hunger Games, possibly the biggest movie adaptation of the year, made Jennifer Lawrence a forgone conclusion to be a breakout name in 2012. But what really cemented her as one of the biggest actress of the year was her Golden Globe-nominated performance in Silver Line Playbook. Yet somehow her 2013 is shaping up to be even bigger: an Academy Award nod, and maybe even a win, seem inevitable. Not bad for a 22-year-old. (Click here to see more of her photos)

Emma Stone-2

1 emma stone

Emma Stone rode the wave of an amazing 2011 to the top spot of our “Women Who Wowed 2012” list. She landed multiple MTV Movie

Award nominations for her roles in the The Help and Crazy, Stupid, Love. and walked away with the network’s Trailblazer award. She picked up additional hardware from the People’s Choice Awards, the SAG Awards and the Teen Choice Awards, then figured, what the hell, why not star in 2012’s biggest franchise reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man.

If her next highly anticipated film Gangster Squad hadn’t been delayed due to the Aurora shooting, she could have been an even more clear cut choice. Plus, as Lindsey Lohan continues her ride into the gutter, we’re constantly reminded that Emma Stone is the best young redhead Hollywood has to offer. (Click here to see more of her photos)



  1. dessy says:

    That isn't Bar Refaeli in #18

    1. guest says:

      exactly… that's joanna krupa

  2. Eddie says:

    Wait, who's the girl at the very top in the Coed WOW 2012 headline picture?

    1. nycbass says:

      #7 Barbara Palvin

    2. guest says:

      #7 Barbara Palvin

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