Journalist Ed Power in Independent.ie asked me why I thought Zooey Deschanel is the world’s biggest crush a couple of month’s back and here’s his article.
Lacking Jessica Rabitt curves and a come-investigate-my-underwear pout, Zooey Deschanel is not your everyday pin-up.
With eyelashes that go on forever, quirky sartorial leanings and a ditzy persona people find either adorable or infuriating, the 32-year-old actress and singer inhabits a completely different universe from ladybits-in-your-face babes such as Megan Fox and Kelly Brook.
At a concert in New York by her band She and Him, I fell over in a dead faint (I’m sure it was purely the lack of air conditioning). So it’s something of a surprise — a complete shock, actually — to hear she’s been voted the world’s most desirable female by readers of AskMen.com, edging out Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis and Katy Perry.
The question has to be posed: when did men start to rate personality and fashion sense over booty and bra-size?
Even if you don’t know much about Deschanel, you will be familiar with the archetype she represents. She is the coy cutie from across the street, with interesting taste in bands, a girly-girl voice and a passion for the sale rail at her local charity shop.
A face of Rimmel since 2010, Zooey is pretty but not to the point where it’s a distraction, and it feels weird to describe her as ‘sexy’ without attaching ironic quote marks.
She’s the anti-Angelina Jolie and if she has any precedent it is saucer-eyed 90s waifs such as Winona Ryder and Parker Posey.
“She is unique in terms of her style,” says stylist Angela Scanlon. “She is quite accessible in what she wears, unlike someone like Florence Welch and Lady Gaga. Women can relate to her, and so can men.
“They can imagine ‘touching’ her, as it were. She’s got the girl-next-door style. She’s got the laidback thing, the messy hair and all that. She looks very ‘touchable’ — that’s the only word I can think of.”
‘Girl next door’ is the phrase that crops up again and again when trying to get a bead on Deschanel’s appeal. Her desirability, it would seem, goes arm in arm with her attainability.
“Rather in the same vein as Alexa Chung or Lana Del Rey, she combines gorgeous features, a ‘girl- next-door’-style beauty and an innate sense of style,” says Liz Greehy of Stylebible.ie. “She knows her own style and isn’t afraid to be herself.”
“She’s the kooky girl next door who’s style always makes a subtle statement,” adds Ann Marie Boyhan of whatshe wears.ie.
If you think Deschanel being crowned the world’s most desirable woman represents some kind of tipping point, you might be in for a letdown.
However fanciable a subset of the male population may find her, kooky Zooey-alikes are unlikely to be glaring from the cover of Nuts or Zoo magazine in the near future. It is worth considering that, though AskMen is a mainstream website, its taste in women can run towards the unconventional.
Last year’s winner of the most desirable gong was Leighton Meester of Gossip Girl, a beauty to be sure, but not exactly the sort you can imagine posing anytime soon for Playboy (the 2009 recipient meanwhile was the downright obscure Emmanuelle Chriqui from Entourage).
The daughter of acclaimed cinematographer Caleb Deschanel and the younger sister of actress Emily (star of the procedural drama Bones), Zooey’s show-business career has been as convention-defying as her image.
Her big break was as the eye-rolling older sister in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous. From there she graduated to beneath-the-radar indie movies such as The Good Girl (opposite Jennifer Aniston) while she got to showcase her singing voice in Elf, warbling ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ as Will Ferrell croons along in awe.
Her biggest role was also her most controversial. As the Smiths-loving femme fatale who grinds Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s heart into the carpet in (500) Days of Summer she was accused of embodying a toxic cliché: the cold-blooded girlfriend that breaks up with you for no good reason.
Critics claimed she was playing less a character than a string of stereotypes, though this ignored the fact that ‘Summer’ was supposed to be a mystery to the love-struck Gordon Levitt.
The film received luke-warm reviews, the first intimations of a backlash which was at full tilt by the time Deschanel’s new TV series, The New Girl debuted in the US over the autumn (you can see it on Channel 4 on Fridays).
The main charge against her is that, by styling herself the ultimate girly-girl, Deschanel is pandering to male fantasy every bit as shamelessly as Kelly Brook rolling around in Haagen Dazs. When she tweeted “I Wish Everyone Looked Like a Kitten” in September the feminist twittersphere practically went into lockdown.
Speaking to New York Magazine not long after, Deschanel didn’t hold back. Do we really want to live in a world, she said, where women aren’t allowed to act like girls every now and then? What sort of feminist triumph would THAT represent?
“I can’t be girlie? I think the fact that people are associating being girlie with weakness, that needs to be examined. I don’t think that it undermines my power at all.”
Kelly Lynch of celebrity blog socialitelife.com says: “Whether or not her quirkiness will stay in vogue, Deschanel has gone this long with a successful career in Hollywood. As long as she stays true to the talents and charisma that embody who she is, Deschanel will continue to do well in showbusiness.”
– Ed Power
Here’s the article over on Independent.ieTweet