Rumer Willis has been in the spotlight since she was a child. It’s not her fault that her mom and dad happen to be Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, two of the biggest A-listers to stroll through Tinseltown. Thanks to her parents’ fame, Willis has endured the press ringer and emerged a confident woman with an unapologetic, ever-shifting style. In fact, the starlet may have reinvented herself more times than Madonna (a feat only children of the ’80s truly understand).
Willis’ coming of age tale can be told through a series of extreme transformations. Throughout her early career, she was callously called "Potato Head" by Perez Hilton, an insult that echoed the nasty remarks of her teenage bullies. She’s since cut her hair into more than a couple rebellious crops that show off her strong jawline (the one they teased her for), dyed her hair pink and slammed anyone who dared to tell her that unconventional can’t be beautiful.
From her very first audition to her starring role in FOX’s Empire, Rumer has always embodied the same rebellious spirit, even when she’s wearing blonde extensions.
She’s not holding that curly hair hostage
If you’re used to seeing Rumer Willis in the tabloids today, you may not recognize the star as a teenager. In 2005, the actress donned a cute, curly mop alongside her father in Hostage, her second credited role. According to a BBC interview with papa Bruce Willis, Rumer actually had a legitimate audition for the part and nailed it all on her own (wait, what are celebrity parents for?).
This haircut marked the start of an ever-changing style for the budding starlet, who seemed to relish in her unconventional beauty. By 2007, Rumer had chopped her already-short locks into a bold, unkempt pixie. Though it garnered her a little criticism from certain tabloids, she didn’t seem to sweat it.
"There’s so much pressure to look a certain way, and I don’t fit the convention. But it’s okay if you’re not the perfect picture," she told In Touch in 2008 (via Celebitchy).
Leather and Lace
By 2009, Rumer Willis was starting to develop her own style which mixed feminine elements like lace and ruffles with sharp, tailored cuts. The star had just landed a racy, "same-sex storyline" as Gia on 90210, which was, in part, because of her unique style.
"We wrote the character first. Rumer auditioned, and she was fantastic, and she had a kind of eccentricity which I really liked," show-runner Rebecca Sinclair explained to The Futon Critic. "Her hair is great and her glasses are cute."
According to IMDB, this was Willis’ first recurring TV role following a stint of cameos on shows like The Secret Life of the American Teenager and CSI:NY. Her budding TV success came off the back of Sorority Row, a poorly-received but criminally underrated horror flick, according to Bloody Disgusting. Her lacy look at the film’s premiere was a refined sexiness we weren’t used to seeing from the star. This would go on to define Willis’ split-personality sense of style, which frequently wavers between feminine and androgynous.
Beauty and the bob
The year 2010 saw a lot of changes for Rumer Willis, who had adopted long, auburn curls by the end of 2009. When her work with 90210 was coming to a close, she chopped off her locks (or simply removed her extensions) yet again and opted for a curly bob.
The actress played off the youthfulness of her new ‘do by embracing the miniskirt, one of fashion’s most debated pieces, though if Victoria Beckham could rock one well into her 30s, it’s nothing a young star like Willis couldn’t handle — What are fashion rules anyway? Willis took the look a step further at The Darker Side of Green Debate when she showed up in a menswear-inspired outfit that erred on school girl cool. The daring style was well-received, though tabloids like Perez Hilton were quick to throw in a few jabs.
With regard to her haters in general, Willis seems surprisingly self-aware. In a 2015 People interview, she claimed, "People have such an immediate judgment of me because I have tattoos or because my hair is sometimes crazy. [They think] I’m this reckless child of famous parents."
Rumer Willis’ quirky, short cut didn’t last very long. Just a couple months after she attended The Darker Side of Green Debate with cropped curls, the star was spotted by Harper’s Bazaar at a Tommy Hilfiger S/S 2011 after-party with long, brunette locks and a silky, navy dress. For the next year, Willis’ style was notably bohemian, and she ditched the miniskirts for longer, floral maxis (like the one she wore to "the Night Vision presents an Evening Affair with Seth Macfarlane party" in 2010, according to People). Was her sartorial taste slanting towards the more mature or was the starlet simply dressing for the part? With Willis, you never know what you’re going to get, but this ultra-feminine look was perhaps inspired by a new career path.
As CBS reports, Willis became the face of Badgely Mischka, a luxury brand known for their glamorous, feminine styles. She appeared in the brand’s spring 2011 ad campaign with long, gorgeously tousled waves. This time, she wasn’t so quick to abandon the softer look.
Fortunately for Rumer Willis, this ombre wasn’t bad by any means. It was so, so good. By now, most of us know that the star’s favorite style switch-up is a good cut and color. In 2012, she not only debuted a new ombre hairstyle but stepped out with a new, slimmer figure.
As with most celeb weight-loss stories, the tabloids ran rampant with … rumors (her parents totally foreshadowed her fate with her name, huh?). The Daily Mail speculated that Willis’ weight-loss was thanks to her quaffing 100 percent raw coconut water — Wait, can coconut water do that? — after seeing some snaps of the star picking up a large box of the healthy, Hollywood favorite. Others, like E!’s Fashion Police, mused about how Willis may have lost weight to prep for her modeling gig.
Either way, Willis absolutely stunned at the premiere screening for American Horror Story: Asylum. She was almost unrecognizable in a skin-tight LBD and fiery ombre hair.
That old Hollywood charm
In 2014, Rumer Willis had all of us doing a double take after reinventing herself yet again. Hello, Lana Del Rey! Is that you? The Always Woodstock actress looked nothing like her former self with loose blonde waves and an ethereal, floor-length gown.
Willis was undeniably channeling old Hollywood glamour at the 7th Annual Hollywood Domino & Bovet 1822 Gala, which The Huffington Post described as a benefit for Artists for Peace and Justice. Not only did Willis show up as a speaker, but she was performing at the event. That’s right: the young star had a little-known knack for singing.
According to Just Jared, Willis’ lacy, white gown was by Rhea Costa. She iced off the look with a glitzy Swarovski clutch, Le Vian earrings and XIV Karats rings. Most importantly, the gala foreshadowed Willis’ career in music. The following year, the starlet made her Broadway debut (via Broadway Buzz).
Pink hair, don’t care
If you thought Rumer Willis’ hair was bold before, the starlet decided to undertake her brightest look yet. She finally ventured into the world of fashion hair color. In May of 2014, the starlet debuted a nearly-neon, pink dye job.
Willis’ look has always had subtle punk leanings — from the tattoos to her penchant for leather jackets. This took the whole rebel vibe one step further. According to The Daily Mail, celeb colorist Daniel Moon crafted the look, which Willis commemorated by posting a cute selfie, referencing the 1980s cartoon character Jem and declaring "#pinkhairdontcare."
Anyone who’s gone through the difficult process of keeping pink locks knows that the dye doesn’t last for long. Thankfully for Willis, neither does the star’s style attention-span. By September, Willis already ditched the bright color for a platinum bob, but kept true to her punk roots. She ramped up the rebel vibes with a pair of classic Converse sneakers and leather jacket for Benefit Cosmetics’ 1st Annual National Wing Women Weekend VIP Launch.
Twinning with Mama
You know what they say about growing older — you eventually become your mother. That’s not so bad when your mom is Demi Moore. After taking home a miraculous win during the 20th season of Dancing with the Stars (via E! News), Rumer Willis began morphing into her mother.
In 2015, Willis posted a totally twinning look with her famous mama on Instagram. Both were wearing long, dark locks, wayfarer-style glasses and navy jumpsuits. She wrote: "That moment when you realize you actually are becoming your mother #twinning #imnotmad."
Though Hollywood Life reports that Moore originally didn’t want Willis to go on DWTS, the actress attributed some of her fit figure to the series. Willis told People that she "didn’t really workout" before joining the dancing competition, but started rehearsing "four to five hours a day." She also opted for a healthy, gluten-free diet that helped her stay slim, though French Fries are totally her guilty pleasure, and honestly, who’s not on board with that?
"I don’t really eat dairy, no gluten, and I don’t really eat red meat," she told the mag. "It’s half the reason why I’m in the shape the way I am."
Forget That Photoshop
Rumer Willis wasn’t always the confident, independent starlet we see today. In an episode of Dancing with the Stars (via BBC), the actress admitted that she was bullied as a teenager and considered having plastic surgery. According to Willis, people called her various names from "buttaface" to "potato head," an insult perpetuated by the blog Perez Hilton.
Willis has since owned her looks. In 2016, she cropped her hair into a bold pixie that showed off her unique features. She donned this cut in a Vanity Fair photo shoot and later slammed the photographer for shrinking her jawline in one of the snaps. In a now-deleted Instagram post, the starlet called for friends and fans to remove the image from their social media pages.
"The photographer Photoshopped my face to make my jaw smaller and I find it really offensive for anyone to try and change the way you look so drastically," Willis wrote, according to TooFab. "I love the way I look and I won’t support anyone who would feel a need to change the way I look to make me beautiful … Whether or not they realize it, it is a form of bullying, which I won’t stand for."
Vanity Fair later claimed that the editing was only to fix distortion from a wide-angle lens.
Putting up with the Rumers
In 2017, Rumer Willis picked up a guest-starring slot on FOX’s music industry drama Empire. According to Decider, the starlet took on the role of tough gal Tory Ash, a musician who reflected Willis’ edgy style and punk rock roots. She also finally got to show off her singing chops to a wider audience.
During the series, Willis looked more glamorous than ever with long locks and lips juicy enough to spark plastic surgery rumors — but those weren’t the only rumors the starlet was facing, and we’re not talking about name puns (again). In October 2017, she finally cleared up some gossip about her health following the July announcement that she was 6 months sober. In a statement to People, Willis admitted that her sobriety didn’t have to do with substance abuse like her character on the show.
"My decision to become sober wasn’t out of a need necessarily. It was more just that I did ‘sober January’ and I just decided to keep going," she said.
Bleach blonde bombshell
In 2018, Rumer Willis showed up at the Comedy Central Roast of her father looking like she wasn’t even one of his children. What happened to twinning with mama? Just when we thought the starlet couldn’t possibly switch her look up anymore than she already had, the queen of reinvention opted for a major beauty transformation.
Willis swapped out her usual dark hair with long, blonde locks and gave curtain bangs a try (which has us contemplating some fringe, too). Who knew a change in hair color could do this much? As News.com.au reports, the actress was looking bronzy and smiled for photos at the event, but heartbreak may have been lying under the surface if you believe the tabloids.
According to reports from Page Six, the starlet removed her DWTS tattoo towards the end of 2017 after dance partner Val Chmerkovskiy started dating former DWTS pro Jenna Johnson. Though Willis was never romantically involved with Chmerkovskiy that we know of, the tabloid insisted the starlet was smitten. If this is a breakup haircut, heartbreak certainly looks sweet.
Rumer Willis’ sartorial leanings are like the Wild Wild West. One day she’s a punk rock rebel and the next she’s a glamorous Hollywood starlet circa 1945. If her stylist wasn’t already a master at swiftly applying extensions, they certainly are now. The celebrity spawn switches up her hair faster than the tabloids can report on it, and that’s what makes her so captivating. You never know what you’re going to get, but it’s always unapologetically Rumer.
A multi-talent who adeptly shifts from major motion pictures and TV series to Broadway and cabaret tours, Willis even took time to work with bullying and domestic violence nonprofit Saving Our Daughters. There’s no telling which direction she’ll go in next as we follow her style on her path to self-love — we’re all just along for the ride.
"I’m taking it one day at a time and learning how to love myself more and more and find more and more ways to be not scared," Willis told Women’s Health in a 2015 interview. "I challenge myself constantly. The deepest gift you can learn in life is about self-love, and that’s not going to happen overnight."