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Sex appeal: what it is and what makes women take a second look.

Sex appeal. It's a certain look, a particular style, the way a man carries himself. Or it might be his smile, a chiseled physique or lush lips. What catches a woman's eye and attracts her attention to a man varies from female to female, but it all boils down to sex appeal.

Some women are attracted to a man by his physical qualities, such as an athletic body or gently piercing eyes or great teeth, while others are captivated by more ethereal qualities, such as intelligence and spirituality. A number of women also report that among the first things they notice are a man's hands and shoes. "I find myself forced to stare at a man's feet," says recording artist Jean Carne. The Rev. Bernice A. King says she is attracted to a man with a "deep sexy voice and a handsome smile," as well as one with a "sense of humor."

Following are the responses of African-American women from across the country--from educators to doctors to college students to entertainers--who were asked: What makes a man most attractive to you? Is it a physical quality or external characteristic, such as height, complexion, body build, the sound of his voice? Or is it a personality or intellectual trait such as sensitivity, intellectual curiosity, a generous spirit, a kind heart? What particular quality in a man grabs the Black woman's attention and turns her head? What do Black women consider sexually appealing?

Rolonda Watts, television talk-show host, New York City

"I look at the way a man carries himself, how he walks into a room. I listen to his conversation and look for intelligence and a sense of humor. I love men of adventure, the spur-of-the-moment type who likes to travel and have fun. I like a man who keeps his body in shape and nails clean."

Denise Nicole Collins, junior economics major, Spelman College, Atlanta

"I am attracted to physical as well as mental characteristics. A man who takes care of himself cares about himself and pays attention to details, and that is very important in a relationship. Once I am attracted to someone, I explore his personality. I want a strong risk-taker who isn't afraid to communicate his feelings."

Star Jones, senior correspondent for the television show Inside Edition, Los Angeles

"In order for a man to pique my interest, he must be smart; not just book smart but life smart. He must have a sense of humor, be kind, gentle, handsome, compassionate and passionate. He must know who he is, what he wants from life and have a plan of action to accomplish it. He must be successful in his own right, recognizing that success is not a destination, it is a journey. He must be strong so he can deal with my at-times overwhelming personality; and he must know and love the Lord because all else falls into place when you have God in your life."

Helen Davis Gardner, M.D., Chicago

"What attracts my attention is a man with an engaging smile. A self-confident stride is sure to turn many heads. An honest, forthright and intelligent introduction with the ability to entertain ideas that represent a sense of being well-read on various subjects."

Bernice A. King, minister and author of the book Hard Questions, Heart Answers, Atlanta

"What is attractive to me is a man with a true love for Jesus Christ. A strong yet gentle and sensitive spirit, a deep sexy voice and a handsome smile. He should also be well-versed and traveled, adventurous, self-assured, ambitious and financially secure. I consider sex appeal a well-groomed, well-dressed, tall, medium brown-skinned man with expressive eyes and a hairy chest, a man who is debonair with a touch of ruggedness and is a deep thinker with a sense of humor. What gets my attention is a man with charisma and presence, a well-defined athletic physique."

Phoebe Beasley, professional artist and radio advertising account manager, Los Angeles

"The qualities I admire most in men are the loving and respectful ways they relate to their family and friends. The ability to bring a sense of excitement and energy to each new day. And a gift of humor, which allows a man to recognize his own humorous shortcomings."

Veda Howard, recent college graduate and events producer, Edgewater Park, N.J.

"Someone who is tall and resembles a teddy bear would turn my head. However, personality is a major factor in my being truly attracted to a man. A responsible Christian man with a sense of humor, intelligence and compassion would be perfect. Essentially, a funny, kind, God-fearing, chocolate teddy bear."

Nina Staples, state government administrator, Memphis

"I love to hear the strong, confident energetic voice of a Black man. I love to hear a Black man laugh. I am attracted to men who value family, friendship and culture. A Brother who is conscious of his spirituality and health is a diamond in the rough. It's refreshing to meet a man who can be honest and supportive comfortably. Beautiful is also well-groomed and at least 6-foot-1."

Leticia Harrison, law student, St. Louis University

"What gets my attention is a handsome, dark-complexioned Brother about my age. I like thinner guys. But if he doesn't have an advanced education, traditional family values and earn a decent living, there's no more attraction."

Veda Lewis, podiatrist, San Antonio, Texas

"I find a man's strong desire and sincerity for God attractive, someone who is very confident in self and honest, someone who is very attractive. But a man's sincere, honest character and personality are what attract me most."

Annette (Queenie) Lenox, social worker and professional singer, Chicago

"What attracts me most is a man who exercises wisdom, communicates intelligently and values my opinion to the same degree that he values his own. Of course, he must be sensitive and affectionate. Also of great importance is that he is secure and not intimidated by who I am."

Ronnie Bowling, state probation and parole agent, Greenville, S.C.

"I look for an individual who is assertive, very goal-oriented and who knows what he wants out of life, and has a set plan on how to achieve his many goals. He has to be very sensitive to my needs . . . . Strong religious beliefs and a strong family connection also are important, as well as the way he dresses and his mannerisms."

Lisa Farmer, TV writer/producer, Los Angeles

"Beautiful Black men come in all complexions, but when I see a Brother with chocolate skin and a nice smile, I can't help but do a double-take. And although good looks turn my head, a good heart turns me on. I always notice when a Brother goes out of his way to be nice, whether it's something as simple as holding an elevator door or giving up his parking space."

Corean Walton, retired office worker, Chicago

"A tall, well-dressed man with a great smile catches my attention, and I find a nice strong voice very attractive in a man. I pay a lot of attention to what he has to say, what his aspirations are. Does he want a wife and family? And I take notice of how well a man treats his mother because if he knows how to treat his mother well, he'll know how to treat me. On the surface, I always look at his shoes to see if they're well-kept. How well he keeps his shoes says a lot about how much he cares about himself."

Michelle Lowery, public schools role model program coordinator, St. Louis

"What makes a man most attractive to me is one who exudes a loving, caring spirit reflected in his mental attitude and physical being. I'm further drawn to a man who articulately expresses his passion for, sensitivity to and compassion for people and who enjoys investing his time, energy and talents into turning others on to their potential."

Sheila Morgan, county minority enterprise coordinator, Tallahassee, Fla.

"I like a man with a voice that I don't mind hearing again and again. Yet, more important than the sound of a man's voice is the sound of a man's laughter. Any man who has a good, hardy laugh and a down-to-earth sense of humor is great in my book. . . . I feel that the right man for me has both an intellectual curiosity and a spiritual curiosity. . . . I want a man who has a kind heart and is sensitive to my needs."

Sheree Devereaux, actress and free-lance TV reporter, Los Angeles

"I find attractive a man who has a conscience, a belief in a supreme being and in the power of the truth. A man who is stable, reliable, emotionally available, mentally and physically healthy."

Jody Watley, recording artist, Los Angeles

"The first thing I look at is a guy's shoes! My dad taught me that shoes say a lot, and they do. Then his face and smile. Good teeth are a must! But experience has taught me to pay attention to a guy's character and depth. He has to be self-sufficient, respect a woman's intelligence and appreciate her character and depth."

Alma Wyden Simmons, communications coordinator, Detroit

"I find men who are relaxed, confident, articulate and unpretentious to be very sexy. I'm attracted to men who embrace the joy of living. This joy includes a God-centered spirituality, a sense of humor (including the ability to laugh at himself), a gentleness of spirit, healthy connections to family and friends, high personal level of integrity and intellectual curiosity. He must share with me a willingness to let nothing get in the way of our coming together and staying together."

Jean Carne, recording artist, Atlanta

"Being a Piscean, I find myself forced to stare at a man's shoes. I'm hopelessly compulsive when it comes to the neatness and stylishness of a man's shoes. Perhaps, it's because Pisces rules the feet. After my [podiatric] scrutiny, I gaze up the torso to his eyes, where I look for kindness, sensitivity and a positive gleam. When we speak, I probe further, hoping to find a melodious-voiced, well-versed man. [I'm a sucker for a silver-tongued Brother.] For me, a man's most sensuous quality is his intellect. I'm really turned on by guys with whom I can have a meaningful, knowledgeable exchange. It's absolutely necessary that he be spiritual, kind-hearted, witty and, like me, generous to a fault."

Denise Edwards, disc jockey, Dallas

"I am attracted to a man who knows that chivalry is not dead and who believes in monogamy. He must have a heart full of life, love and passion, accept me as I am and know the joy and pain of success. He must have a deep sense of family, know how to communicate where he stands, challenge me intellectually, be forward-thinking, imaginative and have a spirit rich in the word of God."

Betty C. Gwynn-Peoples, graphic designer and registered nurse, Southfield, Mich.

"I am attracted to a man who is intellectually challenging with a polished, urbane, sophisticated style, a man who honors a woman with his head until he knows her well enough to honor her with his heart. He must also be a man with traditional values such as honesty, tolerance, selflessness, trustworthiness, discipline, ethics, integrity, patience, and a keen sense of self-awareness."

Erika O. Sinclair, advertising accounting assistant, Berkeley, Calif.

"What gets my attention is a man who sincerely takes advantage of all the beauty and wonders of life, who makes things happen rather than waits for them to happen; someone with a true sense of self, who abundantly channels positive energy within and around his being; someone who seeks to enjoy rather than possess, to harmonize rather than confuse, to love rather than fear. It is such a man who will arouse my wits."

April J. Lee, transportation planner, Detroit

"I am most attracted to a sensitive man with Christian values, who is loving, giving and has a great deal of integrity. He must be intelligent, hardworking and support himself through an honest living. . . . When it comes to sex appeal, I am most enthralled by a beautiful person--a beautiful heart, mind and soul. Physical beauty or attractiveness has secondary importance, but is nevertheless important."

Bridgett Rawls, customer automation specialist, Memphis

"What is most attractive to me and would definitely grab my attention in a man is his height and a sexy physical physique. I am very attracted to a man who is intelligent, quite a conversationalist, very generous, attractive and who has a sense of humor to go along with mine."

Wendy Davis, actress and co-star on ABC's High Incident, Los Angeles

"A man with a sense of humor really turns me on. If you can make me laugh, I'm yours. Of course, a man has to be physically attractive to me, but different things attract me to different men. Physical traits can vary, but a sense of humor is a must. I also like a man who loves outdoor activities. And he gets an A+ if he can ride a horse."

Regina Garrett, program coordinator, New York

"An ongoing desire to grow intellectually is a definite quality that I find appealing in a man. Appreciation for the sacrifices of others that have made it possible for him to pursue his dreams and compel him to help others also is important. A warm smile must be coupled with good-naturedness and zest that make the journey through life pleasant and adventurous. A man with a sense of spirituality is a Brother who knows himself...."
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Author:Norment, Lynn
Date:Apr 1, 1997
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