Girl Crush: Penelope Cruz

I remember the day I discovered my first girl crush: I must have been 8 or 9 years old, and I had just embarked on a rite of passage that would help to define my teeny-bopping years. I had been to my first Spice Girls concert, and in addition to falling in love with the classics like “Wannabe” and “Say You’ll Be There,” I fell in love with Victoria Adams. Yes, Adams; she was not yet Mrs. Beckham and still had some meat on her bones. These days she won’t even eat a cookie.

I continued to hone in on my celebrity girl crushes, admiring them from afar; I went through a Britney Spears phase (who didn’t?), fell in love with a random contestant on MTV’s Real World/Road Rules Challenge, declared my love for Jessica Alba, Sloan from Entourage, Kristin Cavalleri from Laguna Beach, Charlize Theron, and the entire female cast of Gossip Girl, and obsessed over Giada de Laurentiis from The Food Network. Anyone that can whip up eggplant parmigiana and chocolate hazelnut brownies five days a week and still wear a size two is totally hot in my book.

The one girl (or woman, I should say) that continually I refused to crush on was Penelope Cruz. Maybe it’s because my first serious boyfriend was in love with her and I was jealous, or maybe it’s because she speaks English with a sexy Spanish accent that I have always coveted. Either way, I always argued with people who insisted that she was the hottest celebrity. That is, until I had a revelation just a couple of weeks ago.

It was a cold and rainy night in Madrid, and my friend and I were feeling homesick and lamenting the lack of all things American and the overabundance of Spanish ham. We decided to see what movies were playing in English, and decided on Woody Allen’s, Vicky Cristina Barcelona. It seemed appropriate, given that we were in Spain and both headed to the Mediterranean city when our parents came to visit. We took our seats and immediately fell into a trance as we admired the beautiful landscape and remembered why Europe was so cool.

And then Penelope walked into the picture.

Ms. Cruz plays the totally insane, utterly pathological, and unbelievable sexy Maria Elena in this story about love, sex, and the difficulties we face on the road to personal discovery. Constantly chain-smoking (and drawing attention to her perfect lips, perfect jaw, perfect everything…), Penelope dons flowy white dresses and tousled hair throughout the entire film as she rants, raves, and argues passionately with Bardem (aka Jose Antonió), who isn’t bad himself.

Perhaps the most exciting moment for a girl crush connoisseur, however, is scene in which Cruz and co-star Scarlett Johansson lock lips in a sensual darkroom make out session. (Bardem proceeds to join them amongst rows of developing photos soon afterwards, making for a totally hot three-way.)

And as amazing as her physical attributes are, we should not forget that Cruz, a native of Madrid, Spain (another reason why I should be crushing on her right now – I am studying abroad here as we…type) is a highly acclaimed actress.

In 2008, she received an Oscar nomination for her role in Allen´s film (making her the only Spanish nominee of the year), and her performances in films like Vanilla Sky, Blow and Volver have helped her earn major props as one of the decade´s biggest talents. She speaks four languages (Spanish, Italian, French and English), and dated Matthew McConaughey (!!) for over a year until she moved onto VCB´s Bardem… a good move in my opinion.

In 2007, she announced that she was planning to design a Barcelona-based clothing line with her sister and was quoted as saying she would like to adopt. Actress, business woman, and family woman; how can you not love her?

The only thing about Penelope that I’m not lovin’ is her three-year stint with scientologist and crazy couch-hopper, Tom Cruise, but I suppose we all make mistakes. Who doesn’t have a weird and creepy skeleton (or 3)  in the closet?

Cruz is next set to star in the film version of the American musical Nine (hitting theaters in November 2009) alongside female powerhouses Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, and Sophia Loren. And even those gorgeous women can’t overshadow my crush, Penelop Cruz.

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