Saturday, July 13, 2024

How Jeremy Allen White Became a Sex Symbol, Per Experts

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“Yes, chef” were the words on everyone’s lips when Calvin Klein gifted us with its first campaign of 2024. It was perfectly timed, gracing everyone’s social media feeds with Jeremy Allen White in nothing but white boxer briefs and his washboard abs. We — and the rest of the internet — couldn’t get enough.

Social media was truly ablaze with countless tweets, memes, and TikTok rave reviews. Comments on the original reel gushed sentiments like, “Someone give the marketing dept a raise,” and, “How many times is too many times to watch?” Truth is: the limit does not exist.

In the 45-second ad — directed by Mert Alas and shot in downtown New York City — White is shown doing effortless pull-ups and posing like a Michelangelo sculpture. But campaign aside, let’s get one thing straight: Jeremy Allen White has always been hot, and his newfound sex-symbol status is well-deserved and overdue.

Calvin Klein ads have long been the stuff of pop culture phenomena, due in large part to recognizable stars baring it all in typically nothing more than briefs and sports bras. Just think of past celebrities who have been the faces of Calvin Klein: Kate Moss, Michael B. Jordan, Jacob Elordi, and Kendall Jenner, to name a few.

What’s different about this ad, though, is obvious: it’s White himself. It’s no coincidence that his earnest, humble public persona has shaped how fans feel about him — and helped these photos break the internet.

“Unlike men, women don’t place physical appearance as their top priority,” says Jamie Date, a dating coach for men. “What we look for is a man’s circumstance. This is to say, how the man interacts with the world around him and how the world interacts with him.” From his character of Phillip “Lip” Gallagher on “Shameless” to Carmen Berzatto on “The Bear,” Date continues, White “always comes across a man in control, sure of himself, known and respected by his peers . . . and women, well, we’ll follow that type of man anywhere.”

Being oblivious to your hotness is the hottest thing on the planet.

There’s something so refreshing about seeing someone who’s down to earth and, for lack of better vernacular, an absolute babe, without necessarily making it their entire personality. White comes across as effortlessly sexy, emotionally intelligent, and quite humble all at once. And it’s clear that this is what fans are really craving in 2024.

“When a potential partner ‘doesn’t know’ they’re hot, we associate them with qualities like being kind, charismatic, funny, and generous,” says Kimberly Moffit, a relationship expert and founder of KMA Therapy. “There are also more primal benefits to liking someone down to earth and humble,” she continues, and White’s interviews since the campaign launched have certainly put his humility on display.

Just look at how he handled one reporter who asked him about the Calvin Klein ad after he won a Golden Globe for his role in “The Bear”; he called the whole experience “bizarre.” And when social media creator Haley Kalil approached him at the awards show, saying, “All the women of the internet thank you” for the campaign, he responded sheepishly: “Wow, that’s so nice, thank you.”

Experts agree: the hottest people don’t give off the awareness that they are, in fact, hot. In simpler terms: being oblivious to your hotness is the hottest thing on the planet, and White tops the list. We’ve seen other Hollywood heartthrobs rise to sex-symbol status quickly in the past, and keeping it low-key has made them even more irresistible. Take Ryan Gosling, who dealt with much pandemonium after starring in “The Notebook” and “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” He admitted he thought being deemed a sex symbol was “uncomfortable” and mentioned he “used to hate on those guys.” Great physique aside, what we’re drawn to when it comes to men sex symbols is how they handle the spotlight and whether they still seem unpretentious even with all the attention.

But for longtime fans of White, this sex-symbol status doesn’t feel necessarily new. He first gained notoriety for his role on the Showtime drama series “Shameless,” which launched in 2011. White played Lip Gallagher, the eldest son of a dysfunctional family based in the South Side of Chicago. Anyone who watched the show could easily see that Lip, while modestly intelligent as hell, was also charmingly smooth and had serious game with the ladies. While he certainly had more of a baby face and less of a six-pack while playing Lip, White was arguably just as desirable. He was just 19 when he landed his role in “Shameless,” and since then, he’s only gotten better with age (he is now 32).

Fast forward to 2022, and White really catapulted to stardom thanks to his award-winning role as Carmy on Hulu’s “The Bear,” which just released its third season. You can’t help but fall in love with his hardworking, extremely talented, and, at times, overbearing character. And the actor’s prior project, “The Iron Claw,” released late last year, was undoubtedly a major catalyst for those abs on display in the CK campaign. But despite his undeniable rising star, White’s laid-back, quietly confident attitude in interviews and as he’s been spotted out and about temper the ego we might expect from such a star.

Date, the dating coach, says it best: “I think the key factor is guys like Jeremy Allen White aren’t tied to the external validation one typically gets from being conventionally hot. It’s like it doesn’t matter to him either way. He’s gonna keep on doing his thing with or without our feminine approval — that’s the hot part!”

So all we can say to White is: keep doing you, chef.

Ali Faccenda is a writer with years of experience covering fashion, beauty, pop culture, and commerce beats. In addition to PS, her work has been published in People, InStyle, Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Real Simple, PS, BuzzFeed, and Better Homes & Gardens.

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