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We’ve all heard it said that confidence is sexy. And you see it in action all time time. Surely each of us has fallen under the spell of a certain someone who exuded an irresistibly confident air, or watched a friend work her magic at a bar and wondered what it is that makes her such a guy magnet.
“Attractiveness is not measured completely objectively,” writes Art Markman, Ph.D., YouBeauty’s Psychology Advisor. “We judge people’s physical attractiveness by many factors including their actual body type and facial structure, the way they carry themselves, the way they dress, the social energy they project and the way they engage with us. Most of these factors are completely under your control. Anyone can project her beauty to others. It all starts with confidence.”
Great. Unless you lack confidence in the first place.
“If you struggle with confidence, it’s more difficult to feel good about yourself in many ways, including seeing yourself as sexy,” says YouBeauty Self-Image Expert Heather Quinlan. “If you don’t see yourself as sexy, it’s unlikely that you’ll feel sexy and project that self-image to others.”
“Carrying yourself confidently (standing up straight, eyes forward, smiling), looking people in the eye and speaking clearly can convey confidence, even if you don’t truly feel that way, and may actually help you feel more sincerely confident,” says Quinlan.
Markman contends that confidence is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Pretend that you’ve got it and you’ll start to believe you do. And believing in yourself is the crux of the matter. He says, “If you walk with confidence that you don’t feel, if you speak clearly when you want to whisper, if you look life in the eye when you want to look away, then the world will respond to your actions.” And so will you. In the same way that putting on a happy face can actually make you feel happier, striking a confident pose can make you feel more confident in a very real way. A 2010 study by Harvard and Columbia University researchers found that after assuming a dominant stance for just one minute, volunteers reported feeling more powerful and in charge. There was a physiological response as well: They saw a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, and a surge of testosterone, the hormone most associated with dominance.
“Your external world is a manifestation of your internal world,” says orthopedic surgeon Ken Hansraj, M.D. “It is well known that when human beings and animals feel optimized internally they manifest power by presenting good posture. This study reveals that the reverse is true as well. Get into good postures and then you can control your internal neurochemistry and the way you feel. This internally-based confidence leads to better productivity, sense of well-being, state of physical being and finally sexuality.” In his book, “Keys to an Amazing Life: Secrets of the Cervical Spine,” Hansraj argues that good posture—ears aligned with shoulders, shoulder blades retracted—is directly related to finding emotional and physical love.
The confidence question doesn’t end there, though. Once you’ve made a connection, the feedback loop to feeling confident can help you engage more fully and with greater satisfaction than you may be naturally inclined to. “People who have a poor body image or feel uncomfortable in their own skin often say that they’re self-conscious with intimacy,” Quinlan reports. “They may feel embarrassed or awkward being naked in front of another person and have trouble focusing on anything other than unhappiness with their own body.”
Manhattan sex therapist Stephen Snyder, M.D., points out that unlike men, who are generally turned on by outside stimuli, women get turned on by the idea that they are irresistible. What he calls “self-related cues” are an integral part of a woman’s sexuality. “As any sex therapist will attest, for a woman to feel good about sex often requires that she like how she feels in her jeans,” he says.
So should you fake it in the bedroom? That is, fake confidence? “Better to find something to delight you,” says Snyder, “such as a scent or an outfit that pleases you. Something you feel relaxed in.” And your partner can help you, too, he says, “by desiring you truly and honestly, and letting you know it.”
Confidence and power (not booty and cup size) are the two attributes that came up again and again when we asked 11 guys to tell us about their top celebrity crushes. Browse through their responses to see what sexy really means.
When YouBeauty asked men which female celebrities they find attractive, did they name the hottest supermodels gracing the pages of Sports Illustrated or the latest Victoria’s Secret catalog? Nope. Rather than rattling off a list of women who fit the mold of what society dictates as beautiful, they gushed over sexy stars who are not primarily known for their outer beauty. These men shared their celebrity crushes who come in all shapes and sizes and are intelligent, funny and confident women—and that is downright beautiful.
Find out which famous and fabulous female celebrities drive some men wild—and rightly so. Hey, Sports Illustrated, perhaps you might want to consider these swoon-worthy women for your next swimsuit issue!
Forget food—the way to a man’s heart is through hilarity. Funny woman and “Parks and Recreation” star Poehler, 42, is a total dish, according to Gary*, 29. “Amy Poehler is seriously funny, and humor alone is enough to make someone attractive. Moreover, it seems that her humor comes from a place of her being content, honest and confident with herself,” Gary swoons. “She looks like she would be a fun person to be around. She knows hip-hop. She can give and take a joke, which shows humility and understanding. She seems to enjoy life and that makes her so much more interesting than someone whose only strength is their looks. She's also pretty hot, but that's only a component of who she is.”
*Name has been changed
Annie Clark, better known as singer/songwriter St. Vincent, 31, has been in indie bands like Polyphonic Spree and backed Sufjan Stevens, but she strikes a chord all on her own with Eric*, 32, who said, “I love her wild curly hair, strong cheekbones and almond-shaped face. She changes her look a lot, which is intriguing. She is a really fierce guitarist and original songwriter who works with other talented musicians. She's really good at what she does and that is attractive.”
Actress Petty, 50, is best known for playing fearless females in “Point Break,” “A League of Their Own” and “Tank Girl.” As Karl*, 34, can attest, strong is sexy. Karl says he’s drawn in by Petty’s 90s film personas: "She was a badass, hot chick in a time when only typical girl next door types were considered hot," he says.
Riot grrrl rockstar turned comedian, Brownstein, 39, can also play on a man’s heartstrings. Chris*, 41, is awed by her creativity and ability to reinvent herself. "She is the epicenter of cool—she was in Sleater Kinney for god’s sake!” he says. “She also has beautiful lips and deep dark brown eyes, and through “Portlandia” has proven herself as an actor and comedian. Having all of these multiple talents—and being seemingly humble about it—is very attractive.” Adds Chris, “Oh, and her rocker girl hair is awesome."
Androgyne actress Swinton, 53, has a raw magnetism of a rockstar to some. In fact, there is even an online Tumblr shrine devoted to the sexy similarities between her and glam god David Bowie. But Adam, 31, would argue that this fierce ginger is irresistible because she is her own woman. “She has her convictions and stands by them,” he says, “and honors her natural talents to a razor's sharpness and uses them in the most badass way. She also has an acute awareness of the gravitas of her femininity."
From “Flight of The Conchords” to “30 Rock,” nobody plays quirky quite as good as comedian Schaal, 36. And apparently, when a guy catches a glimpse of the woman behind the voice of Louise on the animated sitcom “Bob’s Burgers,” he’ll flip. Brett, 39, attests: “Obviously, the sense of humor is sexy as hell, but I think she's adorable. The crooked smile, the soulful eyes…she's got style, too. It's all working.”
Actress Keener, 54, has been nominated for countless awards for her roles in films such as “Capote,” “Into the Wild,” and “Being John Malkovich.” But apparently some men would have preferred if the movie were titled “Being Catherine Keener.” “She has a tough persona that makes me want to crack her wide open, and when I do, I will be rewarded by her warm and extremely private interior,” coos Yazan, 34.
British-Iranian journalist Amanpour, 56, doesn’t shy away from danger, and she isn’t afraid to call it like she sees it. Amanpour is one of biggest names in television news, and according to Ben, 30, also one of the biggest babes. “Christiane Amanpour, in particular, is just incredibly, intoxicatingly gorgeous,” he admits. “Her intellect radiates through her dark, glimmering eyes in a totally knowing, self-assured gaze that I find totally entrancing.”
The lead singer and songwriter of punk rock band Gossip, the curvy and courageous Ditto, 32, projects body confidence and even graced the cover of Love magazine wearing nothing but makeup. She has a powerful presence on and off stage, and it’s earned her plenty of admirers and even haters. “She's talented and she's hot, despite what we've been brainwashed to think is pretty,” Spyro, 45, argues. “I'm not going to get into some ridiculous weight conversation about it because if you can't see this chick as hot, you’re an idiot.”
Comedian Sykes, 49, oozes a confidence that embodies the title of her HBO comedy special, “I’ma Be Me.” Hilarious and outspoken, Sykes has been doing her own thing for decades, and doing it well. And that is dead sexy to Steve*, 45, who says of his comedian crush, “She's f***ing awesome. [That’s] all there is to it…. She's got the best, most amazing bad attitude. And I love me a bad attitude.”
Despite Wiig’s one tiny hand, not to mention having a serious case of diarrhea in “Bridesmaids,” the “Saturday Night Live” alum’s hilarious stunts have made the 40-year-old comedian/actress all the more sexy to guys like Chris*, 41. Commenting on Wiig’s appeal, he said, "She has beautiful eyes and a lithe look…and I think she is the funniest female comic working today hands down. I always find funny as a barometer of cool. And cool equals attractive.”
Oscar-nominated actress Gyllenhaal, 36, never plays it safe when it comes to picking her roles. From an assistant into S&M in “Secretary” to a young journalist who falls for the troubled singer in her article in “Crazy Heart,” Gyllenhaal’s risks have paid off professionally and make her all the more appealing. As her fan Brian*, 40, can attest, "She strikes me as having intelligence and depth—she'd be someone you could have fun with but also a deep conversation with, and she's very comfortable with who she is."
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