Ever since she burst onto the country music scene as a teenager more than a decade ago, Taylor Swift has cultivated her image as the quirky, innocent “girl next door.”
And it paid off. Now 31 years old, she is one of the bestselling music artists of all time, one of the most-followed people on social media, and the youngest-ever person on Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful women.
As such, “there’s an ever-widening gap between the Taylor Swift who sings about finding her one true love and being weird in middle school and the Taylor Swift who is slowly being revealed by her actions,” argues Amy Zimmerman in The Daily Beast. She goes on to describe her as “a singularly controlling, fame-obsessed artist, mercenary and tough as nails” who has “prioritized her career above all.”
It’s a fascinating take on Taylor’s pursuit of fame—and if you’ve noticed her changing looks over the years, you might be wondering if cosmetic enhancements played a role, too. (Spoiler: It certainly appears that way!)
Let’s see what she might have done by examining her beauty evolution from 2006 until now.
From 2006-2009: Teenage Taylor
At the 2006 ACM Awards
Here’s our first glimpse of the future pop sensation, who made her red carpet debut at just 16 years old. Looking at her roots, it seems like she may have been lightening her dark blonde hair already. But this was its naturally curly texture, before she started taming it into submission. And this was obviously her natural nose.
At a 2007 Album Signing Event
Then, Taylor got really into these spiral curls for a while. Except for the bangs. The bangs always had to be straighter. (Inexplicably, this was an actual trend back then in this age group. Ashley Tisdale and Bella Thorne did versions of it, too.) The other thing to notice here is her prominent brow ridge and heavy-lidded eyes.
At the 2008 Glamour Women of the Year Awards
Even as a teenager, Taylor always had gorgeous skin. Here, you can appreciate it even more with her curls pulled up off her face, and their colour deepened to her natural dark blonde. We also get another look at her nose, brows and eyelids, all of which I suspect she later tweaked.
At the 2009 World Premiere of ‘Hannah Montana: The Movie’
Next came the ringlets era. She wore them in updos like this one, as well as long and loose, with false lashes and pink lip gloss. (This was before her love affair with cat eyes and red lipstick.) Once again, you can observe how much wider her nose was back then, and how she didn’t have much lid space for eye makeup.
From 2010-2012: America’s Sweetheart
At the 2010 CMT Music Awards
As her star power grew—she was 20 years old by this time—Taylor surely began relying on the services of a professional styling team. So instead of the “prom night” hairstyles and pretty but safe makeup, we got slightly edgier looks like this one, with straightened hair and dramatic eyeliner.