We look at our moms’ old album photos and we are like, “Wow, who is that slender girl with the plaids, smiling to us from the Polaroid picture in a sweet-sixteen manner?!” Yes, time is a robber, and you probably wonder how it has acted on the faces of the celebrities you love (or hate).
Thanks to social media’s Flashback Fridays we can now ride a time machine that takes us back to when some present A-listers were still unknown. It’s always fun to look at the photos for before and after style metamorphosis, hair color changes and sometimes even facial feature alterations. Some celebs that now rock the world usually have school photos from the time before Instagram and Twitter, and there will always be someone, a family member or a childhood friend, who wouldn’t miss an opportunity to share those with millions of people.
Some stars haven’t changed a bit, while others have grown literally before our eyes but we somehow have forgotten how they looked in the first years of their careers. But there is this third group of ladies who look completely unrecognizable.
A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. Check out these throwback headshots of 15 female celebs’ younger selves from the time they were still fresh and carefree young adults.
16 Taylor Swift
We’ve heard stories about Tyler Swift’s bad temper. It seems, however, that she didn’t grow to be the b*tch they say she is now, she’s just always been like that! And don’t let the docile, pensive look of the girl with the guitar from the picture fool you!
When she was still an 11-year-old schoolgirl, she played in the Bye Bye Birdie production of the Berks Youth Theatre Academy. According to a former theater co-star of hers, who is now a Fox News reporter, the future superstar ripped down his pictures and “threw them against the wall” after the performance. He claims she did it because, although her character was in love with his character, in reality she despised the then 14-year-old boy, and she wouldn’t share the spotlight with him.
Here is a good example of how ambitious girls pave their road to worldwide fame!
15 Melissa McCarthy
Everybody who is now in their forties had a terrible hairdo at some point back in the 1980s. That is supposed to be the curse of the so-called X generation. You’ll know what we are talking about by only taking a look at this Melissa McCarthy’s photo.
The now hugely famous actress, comedian, fashion designer and producer was raised on a farm in Illinois in a large Catholic family. She started her career as a stand-up comedian in L.A. and later in New York City. She made her first TV appearance alongside her no less popular cousin Jenny McCarthy in an episode of the comedy series Jenny. Her breakthrough performance in cinema was in 2011, when she played in the successful comedy Bridesmaids.
You probably wonder how McCarthy managed to lose so much weight since her first appearance on the Mike&Molly series. Here is her secret: high-protein, low-carb diet, regular exercise and “a super boring life” that includes going to bed at 7.30 p.m.
14 Jennifer Aniston
OK, this one doesn’t seem to have aged a bit since the mid 1990s when Friends reached iconic highs. Back then women wanted to be her, and men wanted to be with her. She seemed to have it all – fame, a drop-dead gorgeous husband, Brad Pitt, and a trendsetting hairdo which everybody called “the Rachel”. Now, at 47, some things have drastically changed in Aniston’s life, but not her cute face and slim physique. Here are some reasons why and HOW this was possible. Of course, as any other self-conscious modern woman, Aniston exercises daily, eats healthy, and drinks a lot of water. But not just any water – she drinks Smart Water (she’s been a spokesperson of the brand since 2007). Then, we have the yoga practice and a daily beauty routine including clearing bars, moisturizers, sunscreens, anti-aging serums, etc. Well, we guess it’s a full-time job to stay young forever.
13 Ruby Rose
This androgynous beauty has stolen the hearts and invaded the fantasies of men and women all over the world. But she has gone through some serious transformations in her 31-year life. Not only did her style evolve, but also her gender situation. Obviously, a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since the photo on the left was taken. Here, we see her as a happy kid born and raised in Australia by a single mother and artist, whom she has always regarded as her biggest role model. In her childhood years, the future model sensation lived all over the place – rural Victoria, Tasmania, and Surfers Paradise before she settled in Melbourne. Her modelling career took off after she came out second in Girlfriend model search in 2002. But as rebellious and extraordinary she is, Rose never put up with modelling only. In 2015, she added more credit to her fame by joining the Orange Is the New Black cast in Season 3.
On the personal front, Rose came out as lesbian at the age of 12. Her coming out of the closet didn’t win her many friends at school. On the contrary, she was brutally bullied by her schoolmates, which eventually led to a suicide attempt. Luckily for all of us who love her, she didn't succeed.
12 Alicia Silverstone
Alicia Silverstone rose to fame with her debut film, The Crush (1993), for which she earned MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance. At the age of 16, she became an absolute teen idol when she appeared in the music video for Aerosmith’s "Crying". Money started pouring into her account after she starred in the comedy Clueless (1995). This movie earned her a multimillion dollar deal with Columbia Pictures. The next logical step for the young actress was to move from sweet girl in denim and mohair sweater to Batgirl. Starring in Batman & Robin (1997) added more zeros to her bank account.
In her personal life, the now 40-year-old Silverstone is no less successful. She is STILL married to her first husband (which is a rare occurrence in Hollywood), has one son with him, and was voted Sexiest Female Vegetarian by PETA.
11 Kim Kardashian
And just when you thought you have seen all of her, here comes a photo like this, and you can’t but exclaim, “Who the heck is this?” Yes, it’s actually her - the one and only, Her Gorgeousness, Lady Kim of the Kardashians. Her most dedicated fans for sure know her life story by heart. Yet, for those who are still oblivious, here is some info about who she was before she became such an influential social media personality.
Kim was born in 1980 in L.A. to a mom of Dutch, English, Irish and Scottish ancestry and a dad who is third-generation Armenian American. In her early 20s, when this photo was actually taken, she was the close friend and stylist of Paris Hilton, through whom she first attracted media attention.
In February 2007, a sex tape made by Kardashian and Ray J in 2003 was leaked. And the rest, as they say, is history.
10 Jessica Alba
Unlike many actors who have struggled a lot before becoming famous, the birdie of success perched on Jessica Alba’s shoulder at a very young age. When this picture was taken, she was about 15, and she remembers being shamed by her then friends from the born-again Christian group she was in because she played a girl infected by gonorrhea in an episode of Chicago Hope. She found their attitude to be very twisted and left the group. A year later, she got her first major crush. “I fell in love when I was 16 and he was, I guess, a drag queen. He was a bisexual and a ballerina. We used to go to this gay club and I’d dance with him all night, four nights a week, “ the actress recalls. Being so much in love with a gay person actually made her reconsider the concepts of right and wrong she was brought up with. “There was simply no chance for this amazing guy to go to hell only because he was queer, as they taught me in the Christian group.”
9 Charlize Theron
Nothing can uglify such a charismatic face – not even the nerdy glasses! The picture of the Oscar winner Theron was taken from the yearbook of the boarding school she attended in her early teen years in Johannesburg, South Africa. When she was 15, Theron went through an awful personal ordeal. She witnessed her mother shoot her father dead in their home. The tragic incident happened in 1991, but she didn’t speak about it until 2004 when she revealed her mother had been a victim of domestic violence for many years before deciding to put an end to it. It was her brave mom who encouraged her to pursue a career in New York instead of staying home in South Africa, wasting her beauty and talent.
Thank you, Mom of Charlize, for the priceless advice!
8 Kerry Washington
The Scandal actress is a true New Yorker – born and raised in the Bronx. This rare photo of her was taken during her years when she performed with the TADA Youth Theater teen group and attended The Spence School in Manhattan. She didn’t happen to be one of those actresses who’d quit school in order to pursue a glamorous career in Hollywood. Washington studied at George Washington University and graduated the oldest honor society for liberal arts Phi Beta Kappa with a double major in anthropology and sociology. But she wasn’t only a bookworm as it may seem. In the 1990s in NY, she learned to dance from…Jennifer Lopez, who had substituted for one of the instructors in the dancing school Washington attended.
Washington made her screen debut in Magical Make-Over (1994). But the movie which was a turning point in her career was Bad Company, in which she played Chris Rock’s love interest.
7 Meryl Streep
She is the all-America goddess. And one of the very few Hollywood actresses who refused to take any extreme measures to maintain their young looks. As a result, she’s aged with glamor and grace.
Streep started playing on stage while still a student at Yale. Her drama professors from back then say that nobody had ever taught her how to act. She demonstrated an astonishing ability to mimic accents and to quickly memorize lines. After Yale, she continued acting on stage, but she got her big break when Robert De Niro spotted her in the stage production of The Cherry Orchard, and offered her the role of his girlfriend in The Deer Hunter (1978). And what followed is known to everybody.
Vanity Fair once wrote that it was hard to imagine that there was a time before Meryl Streep was the greatest-living actress. But despite her high level of stardom, Streep managed to maintain a relatively normally functioning family life. She has been happily married to sculptor Don Gummer for 38 years, with whom she has four children – all of them artistically inclined and beautiful as their fabulous mother.
6 Angelina Jolie
Her beauty was breathtaking even when she was five, and ten, and twelve, and…so on. With such a face and being the daughter of famous actors, Angelina Jolie was destined for great things. She appeared in her first movie role at the age of five alongside her father, Jon Voight. Jolie was bullied at school for being too skinny and wearing glasses. No wonder then she had these suicidal thoughts she graphically described in her school books. At some point, she was so depressed she wanted to become a funeral director. But while waiting to grow up enough to become one, she became “Goth”, got into drugs, and moved her boyfriend into her mom’s home when she was only 14. Some say Jolie’s wild days were to blame for her dysfunctional Hollywood upbringing and her daddy issues.
5 Helen Hunt
No wonder we have a professional headshot of Helen Hunt when she was still practically a child. She began working as a child actress in the 1970s. She actually started studying acting at eight with her father, director and acting coach Gordon Hunt. Her professional career is impressive, and on top of this she has also won an Oscar for her performance in the cult comedy As Good As It Gets (1997). She was one of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People for 1998. Nevertheless, this is what she keeps saying about herself, “I’m not very sexy or glamorous. I have this girl-next-door kind of look and I have to do the best I can with that.” Who is she kidding? At the age of 54, Hunt still flaunts her fabulous bikini body while riding the waves in Malibu Bay on her boogie board.
3 Sarah Jessica Parker
The actress who coated a 94-episode TV series (and herself!) with cult stardom was once just an ordinary looking girl from Ohio. As a young girl, Parker got some training in singing and ballet, and was soon noticed by producers from Broadway. Her first professional stage appearance was in the Broadway show the Innocents. Her family moved to New York so that Sarah could advance in her career as a child actress. This seems to have been more than an excellent parental decision because the child actress repaid them for the efforts and support by giving life to one of the most recognizable and celebrated TV personages ever. Her Carry Bradshaw has turned into an international icon of fashion, modern femininity and everything that is considered "New York".
2 Naomi Watts
Naomi Watts arrived in America in 1990 armed with Australian optimism and having another Aussie, Nicole Kidman, as a role model and biggest inspiration. In the beginning, she was given only small roles here and there, but as a whole her first years in Hollywood were a disaster. She had difficulties finding agents, producers and directors willing to hire her. As a result, her financial situation worsened to the point that she was unable to pay the rent for her apartment and lost her medical insurance. But what are fellow countrymen (and countrywomen, for that matter) for if not to provide comfort and support when you hit the bottom! When the struggling actress had run completely out of money and become very lonely, it was Nicole Kidman who gave her company and encouraged her to carry on. The light in the tunnel came with Watts winning a supporting role in the futuristic 1995 film Tank Girl. That was only five years before she earned world fame by playing in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive.
1 Winona Ryder
A fresh face with huge promises for a longline career was introduced when in 1995, the 14-year-old Winona Ryder sent a videotaped audition reciting a monologue from Franny and Zooey by Salinger to appear in the film Desert Bloom. “Winona was so smart,” says the producer Denise Di Novi of one of her next movie projects, the 1988 Heathers. “She turned sixteen on the set. She was a prodigy. From a very young age, she was an old soul. She was really sophisticated intellectually.” But even the smartest and the most “intellectually sophisticated" people sometimes do the dumbest things. In 2001, the already famous actress was arrested for shoplifting in Saks Fifth Avenue Department Store in Beverly Hills. Later, she explained that the incident occurred during a time when she was clinically depressed. No matter the reason, the consequences of this incident are still echoing and have blemished her career for life.