Does Farrah Fawcett’s hair spell “SEX” in her famous poster?

In honor of Farrah Fawcett, let's revisit one of the major urban legends of the late 1970s: that the curls of Fawcett's hair, in her famous red-bathing-suit poster, spell out the word "SEX."

This legend arose to explain the incredible popularity of the poster, which sold over 12 million copies (by some accounts). It was always a bit of a mystery why that image in particular became such a focus of popular fixation. After all, there were plenty of other posters of scantily clad attractive young women. The subliminal seduction theory offered a seemingly plausible explanation. The poster was so popular, according to this theory, because the brains of young men were subconsciously perceiving the word "SEX" in her hair, and this triggered desire for the poster.

The word "SEX" is supposed to begin with the curls on her right shoulder that form an S. I can see the S, but I can't see an E-X.

Anyway, I don't think one needs to invoke subliminal seduction to explain the popularity of the poster. The combination of the smile and the nipples makes it an eye-catching image. And once it started to become popular, then the dynamics of group psychology kicked in, turning it into a fad.

Update: Thanks to Joel B1, I think I've now identified where the "EX" is supposed to be. For the benefit of those still unable to see it, I've highlighted the entire word in the relevant section of the image.

Advertising Photos Sex/Romance

Posted on Thu Jun 25, 2009


Alex, you'll just have to try harder.

I've been staring at this for about 15minutes (for research I tell my wife, it's research!).
The "S" is where you say, the "E" is directly (slightly left) up from the exposed part of her left breast and the "X" occludes her left armpit.

But in all that hair I also found spelled "God is a swim suit", "Blonde's have fun" and "why are u looking at my hair?" :wow:
Posted by Joel B1  on  Fri Jun 26, 2009  at  01:39 AM
A guy named Wilson Bryan Key (I believe that's the correct name) had a field day writing books (including "Subliminal Seduction) about the word "Sex" and other "triggers" supposedly being hidden in all sorts of things, including the surface of Ritz crackers.

He's got a (brief) Wikipedia entry, if you're interested.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri Jun 26, 2009  at  02:42 AM
Yeah, it IS the correct name. I should have taken out that parenthesis after I found him on Wikipedia.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri Jun 26, 2009  at  02:44 AM
Who's looking at her hair, I'm looking at her chest and the organ stops.
Posted by dumbledoor  on  Fri Jun 26, 2009  at  03:18 AM
I do see the word. But my mind is dirtier than yours.... 😜
Posted by LaMa  on  Fri Jun 26, 2009  at  06:51 AM
Joel: I see it now! I'm a believer!!

Cranky: I once saw Key give a presentation while I was in college. The guy was entertaining. I'll give him that.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Fri Jun 26, 2009  at  07:26 AM
Cranky: Look again at the Wilson Bryan Key wikipedia page. I just noticed that I'm cited as a reference on it! I guess it's on the basis of a few paragraphs about subliminal seduction I included in Hippo Eats Dwarf.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Fri Jun 26, 2009  at  07:47 AM
I see the word "Ssscsscsoesssxccxsss". Obviously the poster is designed to appeal to snakes with hiccups.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Fri Jun 26, 2009  at  01:31 PM
Yeah, I saw the mention of you, Alex. I should have mentioned it to you when I referenced his entry on Wikipedia. Duh.

I'm sure Key was entertaining. Nutty people tend to be VERY entertaining, unrestrained as they are by FACTS.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri Jun 26, 2009  at  05:33 PM
Not only do I remember a girl my age arguing that. Her mother maintained that you should never listen to the radio while asleep for similar reasons. I thought both were loony and so did all our friends.

Incidentally, I think a big part of the popularity of the poster were the nipples. (I did like those, but preferred Kate Jackson and THE picture of Cheryl Tiegs.)
Posted by Joe  on  Fri Jun 26, 2009  at  11:04 PM
I've been thinking about this. OK, if you accept Key's premise that putting "Sex" into images helps market them, you *might* believe that it helps move Ritz crackers.

Does anyone think that a poster of an attractive young woman whose nipples are showing through her bathing suit WOULDN'T sell if it didn't have a hidden "Sex" in it, though?

Coals to Newcastle?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sat Jun 27, 2009  at  01:17 AM
I recall the rumor that the word SEX could be seen in the foliage in the scene from The Lion King movie, where the adult Simba and Nala rediscover their mutual attraction and budding sexuality, whilst licking each other, nipping each other and engaging in faux-agressive posturing... cripes, that Farah poster still works for me, I guess. ahem. brrr, that shower's cold
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Sat Jun 27, 2009  at  10:35 AM
Obviously we all watch those cherished Disney movies from long past due to these subtle hints of SEX SEX SEX in the movies. No wonder Pocahontas, the Little Mermaid and Lion King are so popular with little children right??

You can't forget playboy too
Posted by Disney Fan  on  Mon Jun 29, 2009  at  02:34 AM
don't forget Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Disney Fan. You don't want me to elaborate, trust me.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Mon Jun 29, 2009  at  10:24 AM
The "sex" you identified (although it does work) is not the most obvious and commonly accepted location. I have a photo that identifies it; how do I send it to you as an attachment? When you see it you'll smack yourself in the head and say "Of course!" Legend has it that Farrah had the right to chose the poster shot from the photo shoot. While looking through the proofs she saw "sex" herself and chose that picture. It was not set up in the shoot; just happened by chance. Who knows; had Jesus appeared in her hair, she might have chosen that one instead. 😊
Posted by Doug in Phoenix  on  Tue Jul 14, 2009  at  11:06 AM
Indeed poster very sexual, but when I look at it, I first see an attractive woman and not think about sex.
Posted by Vik  on  Tue Jul 28, 2009  at  01:54 AM
Sorry to be off topic but Farrah is going to be so dearly missed. I just came across this blog and felt depressed to see how good she looked and how she was in her last days. RIP
Posted by sonia  on  Wed Aug 19, 2009  at  06:09 AM
Why we have bad habits that move now to the internet in our daily lives was not enough for you: (
Posted by Zapzup  on  Fri Jan 08, 2010  at  05:15 AM
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