Danica McKellar + 'Maxim' = Mixed Messages

A math whiz who has published books in support of brainy girls sexes up her image with a controversial new photo spread

From mathematician to... Maxim? Danica McKellar, 35, has come a long way since her days as Kevin Arnold's crush Winne Cooper on the 1988-'93 TV hit The Wonder Years -- she's a mathematician and New York Times bestselling author, to name a few recent achievements. Now, she's startling fans with her sexy new men's-mag pictorial.

McKellar's books (Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle-School Math without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail and  Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss) are aimed at young students -- specifically girls in her first effort, encouraging them to learn and enjoy math and embrace their intelligence. On the flip side, McKellar seems drawn to lad mags (she posed for Stuff magazine in 2005), continuing to fuel many a man's Winnie Cooper fantasy.

In the Maxim pictorial, McKellar (currently expecting her first child with husband Mike Verta, so we're guessing the photos were taken a while ago) dons lacy lingerie, knee-high socks and boots, according to The Huffington Post. McKellar says in the mag, "I've always been really cautious about guys who have a Winnie Cooper fantasy, and I'm so glad about that. I mean, I can count on one hand the guys I've been with. It was really challenging, but I never gave it up too soon, if you know what I mean."

Certainly, other actresses who grew up with squeaky-clean images on family-friendly shows -- like Alyssa Milano and Jessica Biel -- took the same route by posing as good girls gone bad for racy photos. But think about it, to advance their careers, did  Fred Savage or Scott Baio ever have to pose in their undies to stay relevant in Hollywood? We think not!

That said, McKellar is an accomplished author, so why bother stripping down for another magazine spread? We sure wonder whether she's simply having a harmless bit of fun with her image -- or sending a mixed message to young fans (and young actresses hoping to be taken seriously in show business). The math here gets fuzzy, but it all adds up to one frustrating question: Will we ever live in a world where actresses don't feel the need to leap into the headlines with the big ol' crutch of teeny-tiny lingerie?

Plus: Katy Perry Tops the Hot 100 List in Maxim

What do you think of Danica McKellar posing for Maxim? Chime in below!

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