In Hollywood, there’s no doubt that there are endless unrealistic and damaging beauty standards that A-list women are constantly being held up against.
Aside from the pressure on themselves, famous females are also pressured to be an inspiring and healthy role model for the younger generation.
To do so, celebrities have taken a stand against society’s physical expectations and are actively breaking down the norms on how they should look and live their lives.
Taking back ownership over their own bodies, an array of actresses and musicians have chosen to forgo cosmetic procedures, hiding grey hairs and covering up their stretch marks. Instead, they’ve opted to embrace their bodies completely and if society doesn’t approve, well, too bad.
Below, we’ve rounded up 10 celebrities who have actively pushed back against society’s unhealthy standards and who embraced their natural beauty.
Main image via @ashleygraham.
In an interview with Glamour, Glenn Close opened up about how she sees herself as she ages and how she’s embracing all the changes that come with getting older.
“I’ve always felt that my body is not really who I am. We have this house, if you will, that we look out of during our whole life, and it’s not who you are,” she told the publication.
“It’s made me think about it because I’m 75, and I look out in the world and I feel like I’m looking out in the world with the energy of somebody in their 20s. And that’s who I am.”
She continued, “But I look at my arm in the morning at a certain light and I go, ‘Ah! Are you kidding me? Whose arm is this? Are you kidding?’ And it’s like, Okay, I see; it’s happening.”
“So I’m trying to come to the point that I just embrace my—what’s the word they use for it? Crepey skin? Is there a beauty in it?”
“I try to think that maybe it looks like the sand after the tide has gone out. We are so brainwashed about skin. Certainly about women’s skin,” she explained, adding, “the texture of your skin, and the warm, the hard, smooth bodies against the ones that are fighting to get a waist again”.
“It’s actually fascinating to me, because as our house ages, we should get more and more interesting and interested. And yet you have this facade that people see.”
Prior to scoring her famous role as Rachel Green in Friends, Jennifer Aniston was apparently told to lose weight.
In an op-ed for Huff Post, Aniston wrote about how her agent had advised her to become thinner if she wanted fame in Hollywood. She refused to do so, and years later, she criticised society for the rampant body shaming.
“For the record, I am not pregnant. What I am is fed up. I’m fed up with the sport-like scrutiny and body shaming that occurs daily under the guise of ‘journalism.’ The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing.”
But that’s not the only beauty standard that she has actively rejected. When it comes to her enviable tresses, it turns out that Aniston has grey hair, but refuses to let it get to her.
It sadly comes as no surprise that Lady Gaga often cops criticism over her body shape, given that Hollywood finds fault in everyone. However, Gaga is incredibly confident in her body—as she should be—and she has no plans on making any changes to how she looks.
“I heard my body is a topic of conversation, so I wanted to say, I’m proud of my body and you should be proud of yours too,” she wrote on Instagram.
“No matter who you are or what you do. I could give you a million reasons why you don’t need to cater to anyone or anything to succeed. Be you, and be relentlessly you. That’s the stuff of champions.”
Ashley Graham always has been and always will be a trailblazer for body positivity. As a plus size model, she faces constant scrutiny about her decision to refrain from losing any weight. But of course, she wants her choice of embracing her natural figure to teach the younger generation to do the same.
“I hate that I constantly have to discuss my body, because I don’t know any man that has to do that,” Graham told WSJ. “But what motivates me to continue to talk about my body is that I didn’t have someone talking about their body when I was young.”
“This is why I don’t post like the ‘perfect’ Instagram photos. I keep it real and raw constantly because I want [people] to know that there are women with cellulite, with back fat, with stretch marks,” she explained.
“There are a lot of curvy women, plus-size women, fat women, whatever you want to call them.”
For women, spotting those rogue white hairs can be jarring as we come to terms with ageing. Naturally, it becomes basic instinct to want to dye your strands and hide them from society, but Helen Mirren refuses to.
Dame Helen Mirren has long enjoyed a gorgeous grey bob, and has called for people to recognise the shade as a ‘positive as opposed to a negative.’
“I think women were just so terrified of having white or grey hair because it immediately put them into a different category,” Mirren told People.
“And of course, you are in that age group. I’m sorry, but you are! So, why not just embrace it, go a long with it and welcome it? Make it a positive thing as opposed to a negative thing.”
Jamie Lee Curtis
Sharing her interview with Entertainment Weekly on her Instagram, the 63-year-old revealed that she’s been “sucking in” her stomach since she was 11 years old, and now, she plans to stop.
“In the world, there is an industry—a billion-dollar, trillion-dollar industry—about hiding things,” she wrote in her caption, alongside a photo of herself in character.
“Concealers. Body shapers. Fillers. Procedures. Clothing. Hair accessories. Hair products. Everything to conceal the reality of who we are. And my instruction to everybody was: I want there to be no concealing of anything.”
She continued, “I’ve been sucking my stomach in since I was 11, when you start being conscious of boys and bodies, and the jeans are super tight.”
“I very specifically decided to relinquish and release every muscle I had that I used to clench to hide the reality. That was my goal. I have never felt more free creatively and physically.”
Not only does Curtis hate the term “anti-ageing”, but she has also admitted that she doesn’t look in the mirror to avoid lamenting over her looks.
“I’m a 60-year-old woman,” she told Good Housekeeping in 2018. “I am not going to look the same as I used to, and I don’t want to be confronted by that every day,” she explained.
For Drew Barrymore, she’s opened up about embracing her age in all of its glory and not doing anything to reverse her body’s natural ageing process.
In an interview with New Beauty, Barrymore acknowledged that after “a couple of hard years,” she can see the ageing on her face. But rather than reject it, she wants to make sure her daughters understand that it’s a natural and beautiful luxury women have.
“I’m now determined more than ever to show my daughters that ageing is a luxury,” she said. “If we’re lucky, we are all going to age. I just want them to be at peace with who they are and not what they look like.”
The actress also told InStyle in 2012 that she sees any signs of ageing as the rings around a tree stump.
“I say, don’t fight the rings on the trunk of a tree. Just keep counting ’em,” she said, adding, “The idea of not looking like myself scares me,” she added.
One of the most confident (and equally as beautiful) women in the world is Rihanna. But even she understands the endless pressure placed upon women to keep their body at a certain size.
In an interview with You, she criticised how the fashion industry has manipulated women into the false narrative that being thin is best and how she has no plans to fit their expectations.
“You shouldn’t be pressured into trying to be thin by the fashion industry, because they only want models that are like human mannequins,” she told the publication, as per Digital Spy.
She continued, “They know that if we see an outfit on a mannequin in a shop window we will love it and want to buy it whatever size we are. That’s why they have size zero models—they want to sell clothes.”
“But you have to remember that it’s not practical or possible for an everyday woman to look like that. Being size zero is a career in itself so we shouldn’t try and be like them. It’s not realistic and it’s not healthy.”
For Salma Hayek, her grey hair and her pride for it has been a hot topic of discussion on multiple occasions.
Back in September 2020, the 55-year-old actor shared a selfie, featuring a series of silvery strands.
“The white hair of wisdom,” Hayek wrote in the caption, repeating the sentiment in Spanish and in French, “Las canas de la sabiduría. Les cheveux blancs de la sagesse.“
The white hair she’s talking about are the small, scattered silver strands sitting in contrast to her dark brown mane. While there seems to only be about a dozen of her new friends, they certainly add character and charm to her look.
In another Instagram post from 2019, she also shared a smiling selfie on Instagram showing off a few of her face-framing white hairs.
For Hayek, she celebrated her natural beauty by captioning the image with, “#proud of my white hair”.
For Cameron Diaz, plastic surgery is out of the question for her. Having admitted to trying out Botox once in her life, she explained that it helped her realise that embracing her age was all she needed for fulfilment.
“It changed my face in such a weird way that I was like, ‘No, I don’t want to [be] like [that]’,” she told Entertainment Tonight in 2014. “I’d rather see my face ageing than a face that doesn’t belong to me at all.”
Appearing on Michelle Visage’s podcast Rule Breakers in 2022, Diaz spoke about how retiring from acting helped her see how exploited she was. In fact, she refuses to use skincare anymore because she finds being healthy for her daughter more beneficial.
“I’m absolutely a victim to all of the societal objections and exploitations that women are subjected to,” she admitted. “I have bought into all of them. It’s hard not to look at yourself and judge yourself against other markers of beauty.”
“The last thing I think about on a daily basis, maybe not at all during the day, is what I look like,” she explained, adding that it helps to no longer spend hours in front of the mirror “picking [her]self apart”.
“It’s toxic. It’s like, ‘Why am I sitting here being so mean to myself? My body is strong; my body is capable, why am I going to talk down to it when its carried me this far?’”
“I can’t wait to be 50, it’s so great because you just know more. I don’t want it to be about what I look like,” she said, revealing that she barely washes her face. “I literally do nothing. I have billions of products that I use twice a month if I’m lucky.”
Jennifer Lopez has always been known as one of Hollywood’s most beautiful, but it turns out, she used to be heavily criticised for her curvy figure. In fact, she was even told to lose weight, but refused to succumb to unrealistic beauty standards because she was raised to love her body as is.
“They’d say, ‘You should lose a few pounds,’ or ‘You should do this or do that,’” Lopez revealed in a 2018 interview with InStyle.
“It finally got to the point that I was like, ‘This is who I am. I’m shaped like this,’” she explained, adding, “Everybody I grew up with looked like that, and they were all beautiful to me. I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I still don’t!”
Thankfully, her mother and grandmother taught her that her figure should be celebrated, like the rest of the women in her family.
“My mom and my grandmother were the ones who drilled into me, ‘This is how we are, and this is what’s beautiful,'” she said.
“My dad loved my mom’s body—all the men in our family loved the women’s bodies. Being curvy or not, being 6 feet tall was never a bad thing.”
“It was actually something that was celebrated. And so, later on, when I brought that in front of the world, I wasn’t really trying to send a message. I was just being myself.”