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Penélope Cruz lands ‘Sexiest Woman Alive’: Take note, Hollywood

While Miley Cyrus sticks her tongue out at the concept of “too far,” and celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé try to remain competitive with music videos similar to what you’d see in a Vegas strip club, Penélope Cruz emerges from relative obscurity to snag Esquire magazine’s “Sexiest Woman Alive” title. What can (and should) the women of Hollywood — and the rest of us — take away from that?

Miley Cyrus thinks sexy means sticking her tongue out and exposing/fondling her lady bits on stage. Jennifer Lopez thinks sexy involves wet hair and a lot of booty shaking. Beyoncé, if her “Partition” video is any indication, thinks it’s sexy to emulate a stripper while her passive husband looks on, smoking a cigar.

Shakira and Rihanna attempt to stay relevant by rolling around in bed with each other in the “Can’t Remember to Forget You” video. Young mother Kim Kardashian rarely makes a public appearance without a plunging neckline. So while all these female celebrities are shocking us by out-sexing one another, Cruz is quietly representing what true sexiness is and emerges with Esquire magazine’s “Sexiest Woman Alive” title.

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Is it too much to hope that Cruz’s designation as “Sexiest Woman Alive” may represent a shift in the tide? Might it bring with it a trend where a woman’s real sexiness is defined by traits that are at least as important, if not more important, than good looks and a killer body?

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Cruz is undeniably gorgeous, but she is also incredibly smart and talented — she speaks four languages and won an Oscar for her performance in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Cruz is married to Javier Bardem, whom she shares a 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter with. She says motherhood and family are the reasons we haven’t seen much of her lately, but she keeps her private life private. When pressed by Esquire for details about her relationship with her husband, she replies, “That is for us.”

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Without even trying (meaning, with her clothes on), Cruz proves you can be a mother and a wife and be sexy. Her subtlety is one of the sexiest things about her — disallowing us to probe every aspect of her private life, and her lack of presence on social media makes her mysterious. She’s a beautiful, smart, talented woman who keeps to herself while making her marriage and family a priority. Cheers to Esquire magazine for defining these traits as opposed to the more obvious ones that we are inundated with day in and day out, sexy.

While Lopez is making provocative videos (“Booty”) with women who are young enough to be her daughter (Iggy Azalea), and in so doing, coming off as a woman who refuses to acknowledge she’s in her 40s, Cruz is aging gracefully. At 40 years old, Cruz looks incredible — but she doesn’t look 20. She doesn’t look 40, but she doesn’t have the appearance of a woman who is trying to be half her age.

Her flawless red carpet appearances always flatter her incredible figure, but she dresses in a way that looks amazing now and will look amazing 30 years from now. She doesn’t give the appearance of a 40-year-old woman trying to compete with 20-somethings. She doesn’t give the appearance of trying to compete with anyone, which makes her distinct and gives her an allure that is uniquely hers.

Here’s what we can all learn from Cruz’s “Sexiest Woman Alive” honor. She has proven the adage “less is more.” We see less of her, so when we do see her, she’s an exotic treat. She’s an example of how smarts, talent and making personal relationships a priority is just as sexy as twerking.

Cruz is living proof that aging gracefully — being your best at whatever age you happen to be — is sexier than trying to recapture the youth of your 20s. Now we’ll wait to see if this is the beginning of a trend that reexamines how we define sexy, where subtlety, smarts and forming strong relationships with loved ones are at least as celebrated as a “big booty.”

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