Still going strong after 28 (yes, 28) years, People's 2017 World's Most Beautiful issue features five-time cover girl Julia Roberts and tons of other stars with various perspectives on what beauty actually means. The annual special edition showcases women over 50, people speaking honestly on gender, and women without any makeup on. Though the magazine has some pretty flawed takes on what's beautiful, there are moments that showcase women who have more progressive definitions of beauty. From gender identity to body positivity to embracing sexuality, the stars in this magazine are redefining what beautiful means.
The women included in this edition are expanding the definition of beauty (though overall, it could push the bar even farther) including more people who may have previously been excluded. Things are changing, and while there's definitely still work to be done for representation of all body types, gender identities, ethnicities, and abilities, this year's Most Beautiful issue is taking some steps in the right direction.
Below are are nine of the most powerful moments in the magazine, shining the spotlight on people who may not be on the cover, but have some powerful things to say all the same.
Amandla Stenberg's Comment About Gender Fluidity
Stenberg spoke to People about the constraints of the gender binary and the fluidity of gender identity. "I don't always subscribe to female pronouns," she said. "Gender is a spectrum and I try to show people you don't have to conform in order to be worth something."
America Ferrera's Comment On Latinx Representation In The Media
Ferrera spoke about the problematic and limiting roles that Latinxs are often placed into. "We're used to seeing Latinos as gangsters, drug dealers or trying to cross the border," Ferrera told People. "We're so rarely represented for all of the things that we are." Even though this comment wasn't actually in the Most Beautiful spread (it was in the normal front of book), her message is so powerful and relevant. Ferrera has been an activist for this cause for several years, fighting for more diverse representation in Hollywood.
Caitlyn Jenner Discussing Gender Identity
The four-page spread in the magazine tells Jenner's story from the very beginning and throughout her transition. "I exhibited no outward signs of 'femininity,' Jenner told People. "I never felt feminine, but I did identify as female. What is femininity anyway?" Jenner went on to talk about how surgery is never a necessary step in transitioning. "You are no more a woman the day after [the surgery] than the day before, okay?"
Ruby Rose's Celebration Of Sexuality
Embracing sexuality has often been a taboo subject for women in society, but Rose totally owns hers in the issue. "I'm very confident and in tune with my sexuality," Rose told People. "I feel very blessed for that, because in different places around the world, people can't be." The genderfluid star has long been passionate about the freedom to express your sexuality and to be authentically yourself.
Adele's Body-Positive Reminder
Adele has been slaying the self-love game since day one, and her quote in this year's issue is just another example. "In Hollywood you are either too fat or you're too skinny," she told People. "It's just absurd. You are never going to please everyone anyway, so what's the point?" Too true. Keep doing you, Adele.
Chrissy Metz's Letter To Her Teenage Self
The This Is Us star's letter for People is short and sweet, but it is so powerful and inspiring. She talks about struggling with self-image, saying, "Contrary to the bill of goods you've been sold, life is not a competition. Stop comparing yourself." The letter talks more about finding your way after you're lost, and encourages her young self to "never take your cruise control off that winding road that you have paved by being courageously you!"
Madison Ferris' Moment In The Magazine
Madison Ferris, the first wheelchair user to ever land a lead role on Broadway's 'The Glass Menagerie', spoke to People about her journey with muscular dystrophy. Her mantra? "Do what you love and find other people who love it too." Her singular presence in the magazine proves that there needs to be more space made for people with disabilities in Hollywood and entertainment — but her presence is important nonetheless.
Normalization of LGBTQ+ Couples On The Red Carpet
People featured Portia de Rossi and Ellen Degeneres in the couple's section of the Most Beautiful spread — and the cool thing was, they didn't designate it as "Most Beautiful Gay/Lesbian couple." IMO, this kind of thing normalizes queer marriage in a low-key powerful way. "I have my best friend, the person I want to spend time with more than anybody else in the world," Degeneres told People.
Danielle Brooks' Comments On Self-Love & Stretch Marks
While it may not be easy to practice self love all the time, Brooks tells People that beauty runs deeper than the surface. "Regardless of how much melatonin we have, or how many pimples, or how curly or straight our hair is, it's really about what we have on the inside of us that makes us who we are," she said. "Sometimes I'll look at myself and be like, 'Dang girl, you got a lot of stretch marks.' But then I'm like, 'That's just a road map of my strength.'"
While the issue could have done more to be more progressive, these women are already leading the way to a more modern and more inclusive idea of what beauty really means. One that allows everybody to feel beautiful, regardless of what they look like, what they identify as, who they love, or their abilities. There's nothing more beautiful than that.