“You have to be born a sex symbol. You don’t become one. If you’re born with it, you’ll have it even when you’re 100 years old.”
Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Raquel Welch, Brigitte Bardot, Cary Grant, James Dean, Richard Gere, Rock Hudson, Harrison Ford, Tom Selleck, Brad Pitt, George Clooney…I could go on and on. What do all these people have in common? They’re all considered Hollywood sex symbols. Some are from generations passed, some are from my generation. I had the biggest crush on Harrison Ford when I was younger. Though, I saw a picture of him recently and he is looking more Obi-Wan Kenobi than Han Solo.
I looked up “sex symbol” in the dictionary and this is what I found:
sex symbol: [noun] a celebrity who is held to possess abundant sex appeal.
Abundant sex appeal — you know I had to look that up.
sex appeal: [noun]
1. the ability to excite people sexually.
2. immediate appeal or obvious potential to interest or excite others, as by appearance, style, or charm.
What does all this have to do with anything?
I had a delightful movie marathon over the weekend. I was on my own, no husband, no kids — a true modern-day miracle. I ate chips and drank wine in bed watching movies. If the liquor store and my favourite Thai place delivered, I am sure I could be a shut in. But, I digress…
During my movie extravaganza I could not help but think that we don’t have sex symbols anymore. None to the standard that I hold a Hollywood sex symbol. The kind that just oozes charisma and charm, the kind that could be in the worst movie ever but you are still entranced by the mere presence of them on screen. The type that says things like, “nobody puts Baby in a corner” and makes it sound so very sexy.
There used to be a time where only pretty people were allowed on television or film. With very few exceptions and even then, they were merely for comic relief. This is a good thing of course, we have so much more diversity in movies, music and television. However, has it come at the price of our leading man or lady? Are we ready as a society for Seth Rogen to step up as the romantic lead?
I asked people what they looked for in a sex symbol and here are the results:
- in women: long legs, large breasts, firm bum, athletic build, tall.
- in men: eye crinkles (on a woman these would be called crows’ feet and would never make the list), sexy voice, nice eyes, poise, great smile, charisma.
As you can see, the qualities are very very different between men and women. Still, in today’s society after all the body image campaigns and protests, women are still sometimes seen as the sum of their parts.
What ever happened to the classic Hollywood sex symbol? Do they still exist? Do we have any new ones on the horizon, that have not been in a bad vampire movies? What makes someone a sex symbol to you?
Dee Brun is the award-winning author of Libations of Life: A Girl’s Guide to Life One Cocktail at a Time, a cocktail chef and stylist, TV personality, home entertaining guru, writer, humorist, wife, mother of 4, TV Junkie, shoe-aholic, and borderline George Clooney stalker. Read her column, Isn’t it Deelightful, every Friday on Slice.ca.