Larter first appeared in the media when she portrayed the fictional character of Allegra Coleman on the November 1996 issue of Esquire.The magazine, which billed Coleman as the movies’ next dream girl, told of Allegra’s relationship with David Schwimmer, how Quentin Tarantino broke up with Mira Sorvino to date her, and how Woody Allen overhauled a film to give her a starring role. When the magazine was published, Esquire received hundreds of phone calls about the non-existent Coleman and various talent agencies sought to represent her, even after the hoax was revealed. Larter herself received a considerable amount of attention after the cover; she received phone calls from morning TV shows and others for interviews. The Esquire cover led Larter to a role on Varsity Blues. One particular scene where Larter’s character, Darcy Sears, wears nothing but whipped cream to cover herself has become a media favorite. It has been referenced a number of times in the media including on MTV’s Jersey Shore where one character refers to it as the “Varsity Blues outfit”. The scene also made Maxim‘s list of Earth-Shattering Nude Scenes at #9.

In 2002, Larter ranked #40 in Stuff magazine’s “102 Sexiest Women in the World”. She was listed as #49, #19 and #91 in FHM‘s “100 Sexiest Women in the World” in 2007, 2008 and 2009respectively. Maxim also ranked her #6 in their Hot 100 for 2007 and #92 in 2008. In 2008, AskMen.comfeatured her as #92 on the “100 Most Desirable Women in the World”. Also ranking #2 on Maxim‘s “Hottest Women of Horror Movies” list, Larter has been acknowledged as a Scream queen by MSN due to her appearances in horror/thriller films. After the success of Heroes, Larter appeared on People‘s “Ten Best Dressed List” as “The Newcomer” in 2007.Victoria’s Secret also acknowledged her in their list, naming her Sexiest Legs of 2008. In 2009, Larter was named Cosmopolitan magazine’s Fun Fearless Female of the year at a ceremony held in Beverly Hills.

Larter promotes natural beauty. At the 2007 Emmy Awards, Larter styled her own hair as opposed to using her hair-styling team. This was part of the DoveHair’s “Real Beauty” challenge which required her to use Dove’s new moisturizing shampoos, conditioners and treatments. She also states that she refuses to conform to the idea of the perfect Hollywood body. In an interview with Allure, Larter revealed she once was asked by producers, by faxes sent out to her agent and manager, to lose weight. “I just remember sitting in my trailer hysterically crying from the embarrassment I felt about myself, my body – and that no one could talk to me directly.”

Larter appeared in Glamour along with fellow actresses Rachel Bilson and Diane Lane in 2007. When asked if she still wishes she had the same body she had at 20 she replied, “No. I actually think I look better now because I feel so much better about myself now. And that’s what’s so exciting. As you get older, you get better…. Look at all these incredible women, like Vanessa Redgrave, who are still so beautiful. The reason is because they embrace who they are.” She has appeared on the covers of ShapeCosmopolitanAllureGlamourLuckyInStyleMaxim and Entertainment Weekly.