Here I examine a fairly obvious, partial reason: To test this hypothesis, I used celebheights. It's somewhat of a "sample of convenience," but it's hard to argue that the women there aren't sex symbols or that Maxim has an irrational bias toward women of a certain height. I could only find data for 77 of them , which you can see below the fold.
A representative sample PDF p. Clearly, being a bit taller than average helps in becoming a sex symbol. But does it matter even within the sex symbol set? Here is rank in the list as a function of height: The Spearman rank correlation coefficient between height and rank in the list is 0. So, being a bit taller than average probably helps you get noticed, but it is not of central importance. Note, though, that the non-significant relationship is not due simply to a restricted range for height in this sample -- the SD of 2.
Having established the greater average height of such women, what accounts for this pattern? This tends to be the most bullshitty part of a report, so I'll just throw out some guesses, and readers can add their own two cents in the comments.
Conjectures that assume there's something sexy about tallness per se: My eyes feast upon other parts, so perhaps in the comments the leg men can explain the appeal of long legs. Fatter is usually not sexier unless it's fatter than Kate Moss , since it reflects poorer health. Conjectures that assume height isn't sexy per se, but that it covaries with some sexy other traits: Good health is sexy per se. A conjecture that assumes height isn't related to sexiness at all: Maybe the average guy couldn't care less about a woman's height, but to break through and survive in a cut-throat industry, sheer height helps.
Whatever the reasons turn out to be, it's clear that there are reproductively prosperous niches that taller than average women are suited to, so that some genetic variation in height will be preserved despite males' apparent greater interest in females who are 5'2 - 5'3. Presumably the same is true in the other direction: Petite women might have a more sprightly, giggly appeal; so, alleles for shorter height could be preserved either due to the sexiness of girly girls or due to their receiving more protection and investment from others because of their pedomorphic stature.
This makes sense when looking at female preferences since most female online daters are concerned principally with the guy's height and income, and thus face a trade-off should a particular guy not excel at both traits. It makes zero sense to look at male preferences this way, though, since most men are interested in many other physical traits before height even enters their mind, and income and power are not sexy to most men.
Almost all of the missing data are from the bottom of the ranking anyway, so the more important points are accounted for.