Female celebrities, be they actresses, singers, or models, are pressured into all kinds of beauty regimens and body modifications, from plastic surgery to extreme diets to wearing makeup every single day. Hollywood beauty standards are near unattainable, and the second you turn 30 or gain five pounds, you’re the subject of scrutiny by the public and the paparazzi alike. So it’s no surprise that a lot of famous women toe the line, getting face lifts, dyeing their hair, and never leaving the house without a face full of make-up.
And while I’m indeed sympathetic, the real heroines of Hollywood are the ones that defy convention, sporting their natural hair, eschewing plastic surgery, and wearing minimal makeup. Without further ado, here’s a list of celebs who embrace their natural beauty.
The pressure for all women to be thin is overwhelming in contemporary American society. For famous women, it’s even more intense, so it’s not surprising that a lot of them wind up with eating disorders. Demi Lovato did, and suffered for a long time feeling like her body wasn’t good enough the way it is. But since she sought treatment and worked on her recovery, the singer says she’s happier than ever.
She told Allure that she’s "never felt as confident in my skin as I do today. A year ago, on tour, almost every inch of my body was covered by clothing, and it was because I was hiding behind so many layers. Once I started feeling better about myself, I felt better about showing more skin."
Speaking of skin, Lovato is happiest when she’s in the buff. She told People magazine, "I feel the most beautiful when I’m naked. Just completely stripped down, completely organic, me. That’s when I feel the most confident, because that’s the most natural state that I could possibly get in." Lovato also likes to go without makeup, and spearheads a social media campaign called No Makeup Mondays, wherein she celebrates her natural beauty.
While all female celebrities deal with the enormous pressure to be attractive, trans women often have to deal with the added pressure of trans visibility; heteronormative beauty standards favor and promote cisgender appearances. But Laverne Cox, who is openly transgender, knew she was never going to be read as cisgender.
She told Cosmopolitan magazine, "I was never that trans person who was going to walk down the street and not be recognized as trans, so I had to either own it or kill myself. I have to own who I am." And own it she does, knowing that one of the main reasons she is so attractive is because she is visibly transgender. She continued, "I realized that trans people, a lot of us, just look different. We don’t all just look like non-trans people. And that’s OK. It’s not only OK, it’s beautiful."
And while Cox is usually dressed to the nines and perfectly made up, she’s not afraid to go without makeup and show her natural hair on Instagram, where she has 2.5 million followers. She also started the #transisbeautiful campaign, which celebrates the beauty of transgender people everywhere.
Musician Lady Gaga is known for her over-the-top costumes, her bold and bedazzled makeup looks, and her ever-changing hair colors and styles. But in spite of the fact that she’s mega-famous and can rock the smallest bikinis, she doesn’t consider herself conventionally attractive.
She told Glamour magazine, "If there was some sort of mathematical equation for beauty, I don’t know if I would be the algorithm. I’ve always been OK with that. I’m not a supermodel. That’s not what I do." So she’s totally chill about it. "I’m confident in who I am," she said. "I’ve come to a place in my life where I’ve accepted things that are me, as opposed to feeling pressure to explain myself to people around me."
Gaga has shown the world before that she’s comfortable in her own skin, when she responded to body shamers with a stripped down picture of her au natural. She also revealed that she struggled with eating disorders, and invited her fans to share in their natural beauty together and without shame. Finally, she’s been posting no-makeup selfies on social media for years now, showing her naturally beautiful face to her millions of devotees.
Salma Hayek was the image of perfection for us 1990s kids, gracing the screen in movies like Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn. And for a Latina like me, it was pivotal to see representation on screen; who else could we trust to portray the magnificent Frida Kahlo on screen back in 2002?
Hayek is still landing roles because of her beauty and talent. And in her 50th year, she has had some wisdom about aging in Hollywood. In an interview with The New York Times, she talked about how great it felt to do a movie where she was not pressured to adhere to conventional standards.
"It relaxed me, gave me a sense of freedom because you don’t have to make any effort. Do you realize how wonderful that is — that for once you’re not supposed to look this way or the other?" And the future is bright insofar as Hayek is concerned. "I realized that the best roles for women are going to come in my 40s because it’s when a woman has the most richness and experience and wisdom, and also challenges that are more profound." And she’s not looking back. "If you told me today there’s a magic potion that can take you back to 25, I would never take it. Because I like me better now. And I’m actually curious to find out who I’m going to be next."
Black is beautiful, and you need not look beyond Danai Gurira to know it in your heart and soul. Gurira is most well-known for her work as Michonne in The Walking Dead, wherein she wields a samurai sword like a professional, and sports long, flowing locks. And while her hair on the show is a wig, she wears her hair naturally in real life — currently bald for one of her roles — which shows us how confident she is in her elegant, innate beauty.
She told People, "One day I had to wear a wig cap, and I said, ‘That kind of works.’ As soon as I could, I cut it all off, and I haven’t looked back since." As for her beauty must-haves, she’s not one for excess. All she needs is, "A good pair of earrings and a lip gloss. I’m bald, so the earrings always make me feel like, ‘Okay, I’m popping.’"
Not only is Gurira an actress, but she’s also a prolific playwright. In fact, her work has been nominated for multiple Tony Awards. Additionally, her most recent show, Eclipsed, made Broadway history as the first play to have an all-black cast, writer, and director. She told Harper’s Bazaar that her work creates "opportunities through my story-telling for people of African descent. It’s something I’ve constantly found shocking—all this astounding talent amongst black woman that never gets to be seen or heard." Way to embrace and promote black beauty!
Kate Winslet is an extremely accomplished actress who skyrocketed to stardom in 1997 when she played the role of Rose in the movie Titanic. Fast forward twenty years to 2017, and she’s still landing choice roles and thriving in her career. Winslet will turn 42 in October 2017, and is embracing her age in the same manner that she’s always embraced her figure.
She told The Telegraph that she would never consider going under the knife to alter her appearance. "It goes against my morals, the way that my parents brought me up and what I consider to be natural beauty," she said. "I will never give in." Additionally, if she did undergo surgery, it would hamper her career. She continued, "I am an actress, I don’t want to freeze the expression of my face."
And the heroine that she is, she’s passing on body positive wisdom to her daughter. On an episode of Running Wild with Bear Grylls, she stated, "I stand in front of the mirror and say to Mia, ‘We are so lucky we have a shape. We’re so lucky we’re curvy. We’re so lucky that we’ve got good bums.’ And she’ll say, ‘Mummy, I know, thank God.’ It’s paying off." Thanks, Kate.
Zoë Kravitz has cemented her place in film and television, starring in a variety of films from Mad Max: Fury Road to the Divergent movies. And she looks good doing it, with her lithe frame, smoldering eyes, and fresh faced complexion. Kravitz is biracial, which makes her stand out in a less than diverse Hollywood, but she has come to embrace her heritage.
She told C magazine, "I think there was a point when I resisted being categorized. I got past that and started to really dig deeper and learn more about my roots. I identify as everything, and am proud and connected to the rich history that I come from." That pride is evident in the way she wears her hair: naturally. When she sports braids, for example, she’s aware of the impact. She continued, "They aren’t some symbolic thing, but it still feels important, I think, to be a brown girl with natural hair. You see [blonde] girls with the same hair in every movie."
Kravitz, although she has an impressive beauty regimen, is also something of a minimalist when it comes to what she wears on her face. She told The New York Times, "Day to day, I don’t wear a lot of makeup." She does wear some, but it’s clear that she doesn’t need to, and she knows it.
In a society that constantly touts thin as the apex of beauty, it’s rare to see larger, more diverse bodies featured in the mainstream. But in 2016, the stunning Ashley Graham not only graced the pages of the famous Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, she also landed the cover. And as Graham told CNN at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, being confident about her natural body was what got her there.
"I started to claim confidence in my cellulite and my back fat and my cellulite on my arms. That’s how you get on the cover of Sports Illustrated." For Graham, it’s important to cultivate self-confidence because no matter what, people will always find something wrong about your appearance. She continued, that people say "I’m too big. I’m too small. I’m too pretty. I’m too ugly. And I think at the end of the day, no woman is ever going to be good enough for society. So why not just start embracing what is the difference in you and saying that is beautiful?"
On top of the fierce body acceptance, Graham isn’t afraid to go makeup free on her Instagram once in a while, too. What a babe.
Alicia Keys is a force of nature. The singer-songwriter has been awarded a total of 15 Grammy Awards, and it’s highly likely that there will be more in the future. She’s also a songwriter, an actress, and an activist, so there’s seemingly no end to her talents.
More recently, Keys has been interrogating the beauty standards that celebrity women are held to, and has decided to do something about it. In an editorial on Lenny, she opened up about it, saying, "Every time I left the house, I would be worried if I didn’t put on makeup: What if someone wanted a picture?? What if they POSTED it??? These were the insecure, superficial, but honest thoughts I was thinking. And all of it, one way or another, was based too much on what other people thought of me." Then, after a bare-faced photo shoot with a photographer, she began to see how beautiful she was without makeup, in all of her natural glory. And the shoot was magic. "I swear it is the strongest, most empowered, most free, and most honestly beautiful that I have ever felt," she wrote, reflecting on the feeling.
Keys won’t be kowtowing to anyone ever again. She wrote, "’Cause I don’t want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing." And we’re ready for this revolution.
Law & Order: SVU has been on the air for a long time now — since 1999, in fact. And all along the way, now-Lieutenant Olivia Benson has been on the case, locking up bad dudes and making the world safer for women and children.The real life Mariska Hargitay is equally as wonderful, as she’s the founder and president of the Joyful Heart Foundation, which helps victims of sexual assault.
Hargitay is the daughter of bombshell Jayne Mansfield and dreamboat Mickey Hargitay, so it’s no surprise that she’s naturally gorgeous — after nearly 20 years on television, you can see how she has aged like a fine wine. And she’s proud of her body, as she told Ladies Home Journal (via People magazine), "I love my curves because they scream, ‘I’m a mama!’ I’m the girl who started wearing maternity pants about an hour after I found out I was pregnant because I was so excited about becoming a mom."
And she wants other women to feel the same. "I don’t think women should label themselves based on the way they look," she continued. "What about defining yourself by a different kind of measurement? What about your heart, your soul, your compassion, your generosity, your strength, and your power? There are so many other things to focus on besides your waistline." That’s beauty, inside and out.
Embrace your own natural beauty
With so many gorgeous celebrities saying no to the knife and letting their natural looks shine, it sends a message to women everywhere that you don’t have to alter yourself to be attractive. It also empowers women, as we’re not so bound to what one small group of people — producers and power players in Hollywood — dictate as beautiful.
And while most of us aren’t blessed with the flawless beauty that Demi Lovato or Zoë Kravitz are, we can still be liberated by their bold decision to buck oppressive beauty trends. So whether it’s ditching the makeup or wearing your hair naturally, just being you is more beautiful than ever.