Believe it or not, and some 10+ million readers of this site may vehemently disagree, I love women, and I think all women are beautiful regardless of what they look like. I am not a misogynist, nor do I take pride in judging others for how they look, or who they are. I would be a fool to do so, as I am far from perfect. My foray into writing about the female body was not in any way indicative of that, however, and I can only say sorry. I can try to justify my nasty bikini body article by saying, we don’t always choose what we write about, that it wasn’t my idea at all, but I still took the topic when offered it. I can try to explain that I attempted to focus on looking at insecurity BECAUSE of the skewed image women are taught to conform to. I tried, and failed miserably. But, I should have known better; I can’t empathize.
Ultimately, none of that matters, because I am a man, and as such, I have no right to judge a woman based on her appearance whatsoever, under any circumstances. Instead, I merely contributed to the problem of body-shaming women in the media, and for what? Page views? When integrity takes a backseat to commerce, especially when it proliferates a problem in our society, then you either recognize and attempt to rectify that mistake, or hope that mistake goes away, knowing you’ve become a contributor to a problem. I do not want my mistake to go away, because I knowingly, foolishly contributed to the problem. I want viewers, particularly those offended by the past article to know, in my mind, ALL women are beautiful, period.
This article could be another article about female bodies, but it’s not. This article is about women of all shapes, sizes, professions and talents, and how they are all beautiful because of what they DO and because they are women, not because of how they look, and those mentioned here are but a fraction of all the beautiful women in the world. The women on this list may not meet media standards of physical beauty, but who cares. Marilyn Monroe probably wouldn’t either today. I wish I could write about all of the mothers, and daughters and grandmothers that made their husbands and fathers better men because of their beauty. I truly mean that, whether anyone believes me or not, and whether this article gets ten views or none at all is of zero consequence to me, it simply had to be written, partially to regain some integrity, and mostly as an apology to EVERY woman out there.
15. Christina Aguilera
Songstress Christina Aguilera has had her fair share of run-ins with the paparazzi and tabloid magazines concerning her body and her style of dress over the course of her career. Some photos taken of her have been unflattering, and the comments even more so, but the fact remains, she has stayed true to what she wanted to do as an artist despite a lot of criticism.
As an artist she’s been criticized for the hyper-sexual image she portrayed with her Dirty album, and yet, after she gained weight during and post-pregnancy, those same people criticizing her for being too thin, or too sexualized, criticized her for not being sexual enough and too heavy.
Aguilera, like fellow pop star Jessica Simpson, have been rung through the mill over their weight fluctuations by gossip columns and lists such as the one posted here previously, but you know what? Aguilera is a singer, and a hell of a singer at that, and despite the press being on her case constantly she has stuck to her guns, and continued to live by the words of her hit single “Beautiful.”
14. Lena Dunham
Lena Dunham is a woman in Hollywood who really doesn’t care what the media thinks of how she looks, or acts. She’s an outspoken activist, she’s funny, she’s intelligent, and with her HBO show Girls she’s tackled issues of sex, gender, body image and femininity with humor and even grace. Lena Dunham is, simply put, a strong, bold and beautiful woman who seriously doesn’t care what people say about her. It’s difficult to argue that there isn’t beauty in a woman as steadfast and unapologetic as Dunham is. What does how she looks in a bikini have to do with anything? The fact that she puts one on in her show, knowing media will probably have negative things to say about it is further proof of her will and beauty.
13. Melissa McCarthy
Academy Award nominee Melissa McCarthy is one of the funniest women in Hollywood right now, packing movie theatres with her brand of crass, and sometimes slapstick humor. McCarthy is another celebrity who clearly couldn’t care less what people think about how she looks, and her career has not suffered one bit for it. Another strong willed woman who could sport a bikini and probably kick anyone who judged her in the ass while doing so, Melissa McCarthy is another example of a beautiful woman who neither fits, nor cares about the rigid vision of femininity society places on women, and her career has not been affected by it one bit.
12. Serena Williams
Serena Williams is one of the most successful female tennis players of all time. She competes to win every single match, and because of this, most often, she does. Athletic, strong, fierce and driven, Serena is a beautiful woman, no doubt about it, and I challenge any man to take her on in tennis or in competitiveness of any kind. She hits the court full stride and dominates nearly every match she plays, with many considering her the greatest female tennis player of all time. It’s a common judgement women aren’t as good athletes as men, but I’d bet on Serena beating almost any man on the court, and looking a lot more beautiful doing so.
Kesha was another woman on the last list, and unjustifiably so. Who cares what she looks like in a bathing suit? Look at what she has accomplished as a musician and performer. Kesha is a multi-platinum selling recording artist known for her slick pop music and her creative and exciting live shows and costume designs that display her beauty via her art. Furthermore, Kesha, unlike many of her peers, also co-writes her own music, showing off how talented she is as an artist. Kesha is a beautiful woman, a talented artist and a role model to many of her fans, who see her as beautiful, in a bikini or otherwise.
10. Amber Riley
Probably the most unheralded star on the hit show Glee, Amber Riley has a voice to match her beauty. She also has some moves, as evidenced by her winning Dancing with the Stars. Apart from being an amazing singer and dancer, Amber is also an active philanthropist. Amber advocates keeping music education in schools so that young people can appreciate the arts, as well as being active in campaigning for safety programs for young drivers. Amber Riley is an exceptional beauty in Hollywood who can sing, dance AND uses her star power for good causes, making her a true beauty inside and out.
Love her or hate her, Snooki has made her mark on pop culture first with Jersey Shore and then with her own Snooki and JWow reality shows. Snooki may not be everyone’s favorite reality star, and may not be everyone’s vision of physical beauty, but being able to watch Snooki grow up from a hard-partying young lady getting into legal trouble because of her partying, into a wife and mother over the past five years has shown the world that while she may be crass, and maybe a bit abrasive, Snooki is a beautiful woman and mother even though she categorically does not fit the media image of one.
8. Gabourey Sidibe
Ever since her breakthrough, her Academy Award nominated performance in Precious, Gabourey Sidibe has made a name for herself as an amazing actress with a very strong body of work both in film and television, more recently as a cast member of American Horror Story. There wasn’t an unconvinced viewer who watched Sidibe as a 16-year-old mother of two who suffers rape and abuse at the hands of her parents. Her performance was convincing enough to see her nominated for multiple awards, and begin a solid career in Hollywood. In Precious, Sidibe proved that strength and beauty primarily come from within, something the actress has in spades.
7. Dana Linn Bailey
Dana Linn Bailey’s motto is “be proud of who you are,” and this fitness model and body builder has certainly lived it. Bailey is a very fit, very hard-working woman who has persevered to achieve the many goals she has set out for herself. Not traditionally a notion of beauty for men, Bailey’s super muscular physique has garnered her plenty of criticism and shaming on social media, but none of that has fazed her as she continues to compete, as proud as ever of her body and choice of profession. An iron will is as much as sign of beauty as anything else, especially in the face of criticism, and Dana Linn Bailey is an exemplary example of this.
6. Fairuza Balk
Fairuza Balk has never made any best-looking in Hollywood lists, but that hasn’t stopped the fantastic actress from building a career playing some pretty heavy and memorable roles. While many may remember her from The Craft, Balk’s best performances have come in American History X and Almost Famous, playing the vicious girlfriend of a Neo-Nazi in the former, and a naïve, but world-weary groupie in the latter. Apart from acting, Fairuza Balk is also an accomplished artist, having hosted her own exhibitions in New York and Los Angeles, as well as taking part in a collective exhibition using mixed media in 2012.
5. Rebel Wilson
Australian comedian, singer and actress Rebel Wilson first showed up in Hollywood in Bridesmaids, and has been equal parts charming, scaring and cracking up audiences since with her Melissa McCarthy-esque mix of crass, over the top humor and sweet as pie innocence. Extremely talented, Wilson was also cast in Pitch Perfect, the vocal competition film about college glee clubs, because she also has a strong singing voice. No matter what the role, no matter what the film, the amount of life and beauty that Rebel Wilson projects on screen has assured her the status of scene stealer for years to come.
Again, from one list to another, Coco is a celebrity who is noticed either positively or negatively for her body, more often than for anything else. While Coco has admitted to getting breast implants, I egregiously stated before that she has also had implant surgery done to her butt, so, my apologies. If Coco feels more beautiful now, post augmentations, than she did before, in all reality, more power to her. She doesn’t shy away from the media attention it attracts, and boldly states how beautiful she feels. And if a woman says she feels beautiful, she is, period. While Coco is predominantly known for her body, it’s not just on websites and in magazines; she has utilized it for modelling, and dancing, and she has also appeared in a Las Vegas revue, as well as on reality television.
3. Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga took the music world by storm in 2008 with her album The Fame. Since then, she has sold millions upon millions of copies of her four albums, and become a role model to women all over the world. Blurring the lines of gender, sexuality and femininity, Lady Gaga has turned media tropes of what it means to be a female pop star, maybe even a female altogether, on their head. Lady Gaga is beautiful because she decides what beauty means to her and unabashedly displays that like a rallying cry for her and her fans. Not only is Lady Gaga a subversive, hegemonic vision of gender and femininity, she is also a charitable artist and outspoken activist for many causes.
2. Oprah Winfrey
Much can be made of Oprah Winfrey’s massive wealth, or her influence on a vast array of media, BUT, regardless of the money Winfrey has made, she truly is a beautiful woman. As the richest black woman in America, Winfrey also ranks among the 50 most generous Americans, giving over $400 million to educational causes, as well as $10 million to Hurricane Katrina relief. Furthermore, Winfrey has been active financially and with her time in Africa to help the plight of women and children there, as well as around the rest of the globe. She also pioneered the acceptance of many taboo subjects on her talk show, such as homosexuality and abuse, and pushed these prominent issues into the mainstream, allowing a broader dialogue on such topics. For all her influence and wealth, Oprah Winfrey has used much of it for good causes.
1. Ellen DeGeneres
If there is something that can be said about Ellen DeGeneres, it’s that she’s a tough woman. To publicly come out of the closest as a homosexual, on the biggest talk show of all time, (Oprah, no doubt), in the midst of a successful television career, takes strength most of us may never know. And Ellen took a hit for being true to herself for a while. Her sitcom was cancelled, another sitcom failed to really get started and for a while, Ellen was out of work. It would be easy to say it’s mere coincidence and her sexuality played no part in that, but who’s kidding who? Ever persevering, DeGeneres eventually found herself hosting her own daytime talk show, which has been wildly successful for over a decade, and has proven that no matter who you are, who you love, or what you look like, beauty comes from holding true to yourself no matter the cost.