In 2006, Bell was selected “World’s Sexiest Vegetarian” on PETA’s yearly poll. She was placed #68 on Maxim‘s 2005 “Hot 100” list, #11 in Maxim‘s 2006 “Hot 100” list,and #46 in Maxim‘s 2007 “Hot 100” list in which she was stated to have “single-handedly saved the CW from becoming the worst network ever.” In 2006, Maxim also placed Bell at the top of the “Fall TV’s Criminally Sexy Investigators” List.In 2008, she was featured at #59 on Ask Men’s Top 99 Women of 2008 List. Reflecting on her admitted popularity with “geeks”, Bell was voted the fourth sexiest woman on TV by the staff atWizard magazine.
She stated to have never thought of herself as womanly because she “always play[ed roles] and look[ed] and act[ed] 10 years younger than [she is]”, however as she explains, “Something magical happened when I turned 25 — I looked in the mirror and was like, You might not get carded for an R-rated movie anymore. Like I didn’t have a little stick figure anymore.”Bell has said that many of the characters she has played are tomboys because she was “not homely enough to play the nerdy girl and not nearly pretty enough to play the pretty girl”.
Bell has been associated with the idea that “nerdy is the new cool”, and she explains, “what was previously perceived as nerdy is now viewed as original. What I like about nerdiness, geekiness, is it doesn’t really matter what you’re into — it just means you’re not a follower.” She has also said, “I love nerds. Comic-Con junkies are the tastemakers of tomorrow. Isn’t that funny? The tables have turned.” Vanessa Juarez of Entertainment Weekly commented that Bell’s role on Veronica Mars, Heroes and as a Star Wars fanatic in Fanboys has “solidif[ied] her placement at the center of the geek universe”, while Rodney Rothman stated, “I guess she’s cornered the market on losers.” Bell’s work is often compared to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s portrayal of the titular character on the cult television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Frank Scheck ofThe Hollywood Reporter stated that Bell was “arguably the television successor [to Gellar’s portrayal of Buffy] when it comes to fighting bad guys.” Bell is sometimes confused with Lauren Conrad from the show The Hills. “Yeah, sometimes fans yell, ‘Hey, Lauren’ to me, but usually from a distance,” said Kristen.
Despite “new celebrity” status, Bell claims that she is not concerned because “no one ever recognizes [her] anyway”. As Bell explains, “I hang out withHayden quite a bit — they never take pictures of me. I just step to the side, and I push myself in front of her when she wants to get out of it, or put her in the car.” Bell is a recurring guest on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, appearing in interviews as well as sketches. On the Late Late Show, she is shown to have garnered a humorous hostility towards Craig’s robot skeleton sidekick Geoff Peterson, claiming that she had wanted to be Craig’s sidekick on his show and taking it upon herself to cut Geoff down every chance she gets. Both Bell and Geoff Peterson appeared with Ferguson during the five Late Late shows filmed in France.
In January 2011 it was announced that Bell would be the new face of Neutrogena