Cheryl farrell

Guest contributor Cheryl Farrell shares her challenge with selecting words to describe sensuality beyond physical attraction.

I love words. People like me are called logophiles, from the Greek logo- (word) and –phile (lover of). The English language has a bounty of words that can describe a particular circumstance—synonym apps are proof. However, words have colors, hues, and overtones that distinguish one from the other. 

It was through this diction lesson that I overcame the challenge in writing about the typical definition of sensuality. No repressed issues here, but I couldn’t find my voice associating with the sexual nature of the word.

In an effort to reframe sensuality, a few ideas came to mind. 

  • There was intellectual sensuality, but the word for that is charisma. 
  • I considered moral sensuality, but “integrity” will do just fine. 
  • And, spiritual sensuality evokes incarnation.

Platonic Sensuality 

In an ah-ha moment, the phrase “platonic sensuality” came to me. “There’s something special about that person…” is platonic sensuality. Maybe the closest one-word equivalent is “captivating.” Someone with this type of sensuality has the power to draw me in, but not in a carnal way. Instead, in a way that allows me to sense a person’s spirit. I am intrigued by people who make me want to know them.  

This quality is not gender-specific or necessarily tied to race or culture. Those who possess the “it factor” are often well-known. To be clear, I’m not advocating being a stan. Rather, I want to acknowledge the allure of certain individuals who express themselves and give insight into what they’re made of.

Two Musicians and an Ava

My three favorite notables who exude platonic sensuality …

Ava DuVernay—Writer, director, filmmaker, storyteller, Emmy Award winner, and Academy Award nominee. Her faith-based docuseries Home Sweet Home is a rare witness to truth-telling. She makes me want to watch and listen.

Charlie WilsonR&B singer, songwriter, record producer, and Grammy Award nominee. His undeniable voice celebrates life. I‘ll concede there’s a tinch of a physical thing going on, but his command of songs is magical. 

Phillipe SaisseGrammy nominated jazz composer, keyboardist, record producer, and arranger. The soulfulness of his music transports me to another place every time he plays. He makes me want to sing along.

Add to this list, everyday folks who make us pause and take note. It may be the grace in how they convey wisdom or merely their smile. They open our hearts and eyes to feel and see in ways we wouldn’t do on our own.

Let’s all give freely of our talents so that others are inspired. Let’s share the good.

Cheryl Farrell is a guest writer for

Cheryl Farrell

Cheryl Farrell is a corporate communications consultant and performance storyteller in Southern California. She has decades of experience in healthcare, education, and financial services. Cheryl was an original cast member of the Jeopardy! Clue Crew and toured the world appearing in more than 1,000 video clips. As a public speaker, she often examines how older black women excel at the intersections of race, gender, and age. Cheryl has a master’s degree in Communication Management from USC and a bachelor’s degree in economics from UCLA. She is married and has two adult children.

Photo credit - NiketaCH Photography

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