Posted by ESC on October 07, 2000
In Reply to: Sex symbol posted by Stan McKenzie on October 07, 2000
: What does the term "sex symbol" mean, and when did it enter our language? It's used often, but does anyone know what it means? Is a sex symbol considered a sexy person (sexual-related); or considered an admirable person for a particular gender (gender-related)? And who "determines" these things?
Who determines these things? Hollywood.
In my opinion, "sex symbol" means someone (usually a woman) who epitomizes beauty and desirability. A living embodiment of sex appeal.
SEX SYMBOL - "sex symbol, mid 1950s. A term first used to explain why certain Hollywood stars were so popular, it was soon used by newspapers to describe the most famous Hollywood glamour girls, especially Marilyn Monroe." From "I Hear America Talking" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976).
Mr. Flexner lists the origins of several other sex-related terms used in the U.S. like: Gibson Girl (1890s), Ziegfeld girl , the vamp , the It girl due to the 1928 Hollywood movie starring Clara Bow and based on the Elinor Glyn novel "It", sex kitten , glamour girl , oomph girl (1940s) popularized by Hollywood press agents, and playmate, 1920s.
"The World War II oomph girls, sweater girls, and pinup girls (like Betty Grable) were also products of the movies."
"sex appeal, early 1920s, popularized by publicity for movie stars, abbreviated S.A. by 1927; sexy, also 1927. Oomph, 1939, sex appeal."