Why is Sandra Bullock the Most Trusted Woman in America?

It’s been said that being trusted is a greater compliment than being loved, and if that’s true, then Sandra Bullock must be feeling pretty pleased with herself. She beat out totally beloved women including Michele Obama, Robin Roberts, Cameron Diaz, Oprah Winfrey and Julia Roberts (and men including both President Obama and Clint Eastwood) in Readers Digest’s “100 Most Trusted People in America” list, released Tuesday. Bullock ranked No. 2 overall, just behind Tom Hanks (no surprise there) and miles ahead of Kristen Stewart, who had the dubious distinction of topping the Least Trusted list. 

The Reader’s Digest results came from an online poll of more than 1,000 Americans who based trustworthiness on “integrity and character, exceptional talent, drive to personal excellence, internal moral compass, message, honesty and leadership.”

So what’s Bullock got over K-Stew and the others? “It comes down to sincerity, which is a sorely lacking trait in celebrity-land these days,” longtime celebrity journalist and journalism instructor (New School) Suzanne Ely told Yahoo! Shine. “There is the impression that Sandra Bullock presents herself authentically.” Here are a few more thoughts on the subject. Eight, to be exact:

1. She was made publicly vulnerable. Bullock, who made no secret that she waited a while to marry because she took the concept very seriously, split from husband Jesse James in 2010 following the revelation of his affair with tattoo model Michelle McGee, who spilled, among other mortifying details, that she called James her “vanilla gorilla." “When her ex husband cheated on her and the gory details unfolded in the tabloids (at her career pinnacle, no less), Sandra didn't duck and dive or shuck and jive,” Ely noted. “She held her head high, soldiered on, referenced her struggle and didn't dwell on the negative or ugliness of the situation.” (K-Stew was the unfaithful one, for what it’s worth, cheating on Robert Pattinson with director Rupert Sanders.)

2. She’s super generous. She may command upwards of $20 million for her starring roles, but Bullock knows how to spread the love. She's donated millions to the American Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, and, after Hurricane Katrina, to the Warren Easton High School in New Orleans, funding scholarships, new band uniforms and a rebuild of the auditorium. “I just write the checks,” she humbly explained, adding that she “rides the coattails of people who do amazing things.”

3. She narrowly cheated death. Bullock and then-husband Jesse James were in a car accident in Gloucester, MA, miraculously escaping injury after a drunk driver hit their car head-on in 2008, totaling the vehicles. “It's unfortunate,” Gloucester Police Lt. Gerry Cook told the local paper. “But it shows you that no one is immune from drunk drivers, no matter how famous you are.”

4. She won’t do musicals. Unlike various other celebs who occasionally take a turn on the Great White Way to help boost their careers (as well as ticket sales), you won’t see Bullock employing that tactic. “I won't tackle a musical,” she told Harper’s Bazaar in 2009. “I’m not a singer. People don’t want to see me in a musical. I hate them. Hate them. I do know my limits. I don’t always heed them, but I know them.” Admirable.

5. She’s self-deprecating. Bullock not only won the Oscar for Best Actress (for "The Blind Side") and the Razzie for Worst Actress ("All About Steve") in one year (2009), but she became one of the few Razzie award “winners” in its three-decade history to show up and accept the $4.97 dis in person. She brought a wagon full of DVDs of the film, joking that no one must have truly watched or understood her work in the film if they really thought she was the worst.

6. She’s not an actor-turned-director. Though Bullock has directed one film, the 1998 short “Making Sandwiches” (which she also wrote), it taught her a valuable lesson, which was to “educate herself” about directing, she told Reader’s Digest. So what did she learn? That she didn’t have the talent to “lead” a film from behind the scenes. And she hasn’t gone back there again. (Take note, Madonna.)

7. She’s a “horrible celebrity.” Bullock has said, “I have no desire to maintain a lifestyle. I am a horrible celebrity. If I am out in public I dress like a pig.” She’s also noted that she doesn’t like to talk much about personal things. Which helps make her relatable. “Also, she’s beautiful, but not too,” Ely added, “funny but in a self-deprecating, not mean-spirited way, and humble about her success. She feels 'real,' when so many celebrities come off as manufactured in how they present and how they deal with personal issues.”

8. She’s maternal. Not only has she played moms we love on the big screen—in “The Blind Side” and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”—but she adopted her little “Cajun cookie” Louis Bardo Bullock three years ago in New Orleans, becoming one of the coolest single moms around.

“In short,” Ely said, “the public trusts Sandra because she possess traits we hold in high value, and because she’s never betrayed our trust.”