For far too long, female celebrities have been the subject of sexist headlines, sexist articles, and just general sexism all the live long day. Sometimes it's blatant (see: any supermarket tabloid circa 2002 with body-shaming paparazzi photos of stars' "cellulite"), and other times it's more subtle (like Ariana Grande once pointed out, referring to a woman as "insert-celebrity-here's ex" instead of using her name). Needless to say, enough is enough — and celebrities are firmly taking back control of how they are portrayed in the media. In fact, in 2016, many female celebrities changed their own narratives, using their voices and their platforms to not only speak out for themselves — but for women everywhere.
Not to sound all Tina Fey in Mean Girls, but how many times have you seen Kim Kardashian called a "slut"? How many times, according to a laundry list of grotesque tabloids that I will be so kind as to not mention here, has Jennifer Aniston been "PREGNANT WITH TWINS" or left victimized, in Tabloid Land, by her divorce from Brad Pitt? This was the year where women in Hollywood were having none of that, and they didn't hold back.
Here are 12 celebs who took control of their own narratives in 2016.
1. Jennifer Aniston
Sick and tired of being cast as some kind of childless spinster in tabloids, Jennifer Aniston lambasted her longstanding tabloid narrative with a powerful essay in The Huffington Post.
"I used to tell myself that tabloids were like comic books, not to be taken seriously, just a soap opera for people to follow when they need a distraction," she wrote (it is well worth reading the entire thing). "But I really can’t tell myself that anymore because the reality is the stalking and objectification I’ve experienced first-hand, going on decades now, reflects the warped way we calculate a woman’s worth."
2. Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez's Revival may have come out in the tail-end of 2015, but it's a word that she fully embodied in 2016. No longer was Gomez gritting her teeth and smiling politely when asked about Justin Bieber — instead, she was owning her own narrative and taking her ex out of the equation in the most bold, brazen, and badass of ways.
3. Gigi Hadid
Do not even get me started on the tabloid narrative that initially accompanied Gigi Hadid defending herself against an attacker (it involved the phrase "lashing out at a fan"). The model — along with women everywhere — set that story straight real quick:
THANK YOU Rachel.— Gigi Hadid (@GiGiHadid) September 22, 2016
To unknown article writer: fan?!!! The ACTUAL fans that were there can tell you what happened. I'm a HUMAN BEING — https://t.co/G7Pbp0G8yP
and had EVERY RIGHT to defend myself. How dare that idiot thinks he has the right to man-handle a complete stranger. He ran quick tho 👊🏼😏🐱— Gigi Hadid (@GiGiHadid) September 22, 2016
4. Kim Kardashian
Kim Kardashian has been slut-shamed her entire career, and she refuses to put up with it any longer. Take, for example, the very public backlash that ensued when she posted a nude selfie. After numerous celebrities called her out on it, Kardashian instead schooled them on the importance of empowerment — and what she is using her platform to do.
"I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin," she wrote on her website. "I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world."
5. Chrissy Teigen
I am pretty sure you could clearly see I'm a lady. https://t.co/WmOtIhwaaR— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) November 21, 2016
Queen of Clapbacks Chrissy Teigen has never been here for people's sh*t — and 2016 proved that once and for all. If anyone even tried to slut-shame or body-shame her, Teigen was on that witty response so quick.
In 2016, Kesha went from being thought of as a glittery, carefree party girl to a courageous, empowering woman as she went through her legal battles after accusing Dr. Luke of sexual assault. (Dr. Luke has adamantly denied her claims and sued Kesha for defamation.) Kesha's candor and openness in dealing with her not only her legal issues, but also depression and an eating disorder turned her into a pillar of strength and encouraged fans to speak up about their own issues, too.
7. Shailene Woodley
Shailene Woodley changed the game when she went from being described as a "hippie" to being hailed as an "activist" with her heavy involvement in protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline — so much so that she even got arrested while protesting for the cause.
8. Ariel Winter
Dear sorry body-shamers, I looked HOT in that dress. And if you hate it, don't buy it. But please get a hobby. XOXO Ariel #EmbraceYourBody— Ariel Winter (@arielwinter1) June 23, 2016
After haters admonished Modern Family star Ariel Winter for flaunting her curves in her graduation dress, Winter turned that body-shaming swiftly on its head. She took control of her image in an instant, proudly stating that she not only did she feel confident AF in her dress, she also encouraged everyone to not just accept their bodies — but to embrace them.
9. Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga has reinvented herself repeatedly over her entire career — but 2016 Gaga may be the best Gaga yet. She's gone from flashy rocker to Tony Bennett lounge singer to purely powerful artist. You need to look only at her 2016 Oscars performance of "Til It Happens to You" to see how Gaga transformed herself — not just from ARTPOP to powerhouse performer — but from sexual assault victim to survivor to activist.
10. Kylie Jenner
Sure, Kylie Jenner can be seen as vapid and vain — but damn, how the youngest Kardashian turned lip fillers into an entire Lip Kit empire. Talk about taking control of your brand.
11. Gabby Douglas
Olympic gymnast (and multiple gold medalist) Gabby Douglas won America's hearts in 2012, but in 2016, it seemed like those who once lifted her up were too busy tearing her down — criticizing her at the Rio Olympics for her hair, for not holding her hand over her heart, for looking upset or angry. Douglas reinvented that narrative with a blinged-out Instagram photo that truly speaks a thousand words. She captioned the photo, "When you can’t see the haters online because you’re blocking them out with your winnings."
12. Bella Thorne
Think Bella Thorne is too wild? Too provocative? Too out there on her social media pages? Well, too bad, because the former Disney Channel star doesn't care what you think. She's clearly in control of her image, and at this stage in her life — and her career — she is all about doing her. In fact, she delivered this iconic quote to Maxim earlier this month, one that pretty much sums it all up: "Sometimes I just want to say, 'F*ck 'em,'" Thorne said. "'Get off my socials, dawg.'"
Cheers to celeb women taking control of their narratives this year — and next.
Images: Giphy (8)