Celebrities Sound Off on Inner Beauty and Self-Esteem

lady gaga, tracee ellis ross, helen mirren

Getty Images/Giovanna Chung, KCM

Including Katie’s not-so-secret weapon for “staying vibrant.” 

We don’t need to tell you that beauty standards can be incredibly destructive to our well-being and self-esteem. We’ve written articles about reshaping your perception of your own body and navigating eating disorders for a reason. In fact, even the richest and most famous among us are susceptible to societal pressures to look perfect (Kim Kardashian included). Oh, and studies show that social media doesn’t help — especially in adolescents, who may carry the long-term skeletal effects of disordered eating for the rest of their lives. But of course, toxic beauty standards don’t just affect teenagers; one study approximates that 13 percent of American women aged 50 and up have symptoms of disordered eating. Like it or not, reckoning with beauty standards is a lifelong battle.

So we’re elated when celebrities speak out about inner beauty, self-esteem, and combating those destructive beauty standards. Since they’re the people we constantly (and unfairly) measure ourselves against, it can be refreshing and empowering to hear our favorite actors, musicians, and tastemakers take a stand. Whether they’re insisting that aging is a privilege or emphasizing that all bodies are genuinely beautiful, we’re happy to be reminded that beauty is truly rooted in self-acceptance.

Below, a handful of celebrities give helpful advice and reassurance about accepting yourself in order to feel beautiful. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but with a few inspirational quotes (and maybe some supplemental reading material), we hope you’ll be able to remind yourself that the journey to self-acceptance can be gorgeous in and of itself.

The Best Celebrity Quotes About Beauty

Katie Couric says there’s an unconventional trick to staying beautiful

Katie told us that “I think beauty — physical and emotional — comes from staying engaged in the world and curious about the people around you. As I’ve said many times before, interested people make interesting people. Curiosity is my not-so-secret weapon to staying vibrant!“

Kate Winslet hates being airbrushed

In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Kate Winslet said, “The media plays such a big role in how women measure themselves against other women, so I can be in a position where I can say beauty comes from within, we’re not all perfect, and the covers of magazines are of course retouched. We do not look like that…I have wrinkles [on her forehead], which are very evident, and I will particularly say when I look at movie posters, ‘You guys have airbrushed my forehead. Please can you change it back?’”

Lizzo is working on changing the world (no big deal)

Lizzo told PEOPLE, “[My body] may not be one person’s ideal body type just like, say, Kim Kardashian might not be someone’s ideal, but she’s a body icon and has created a modern-day beauty standard. And what I’m doing is stepping into my confidence and my power to create my own beauty standard. And one day that will just be the standard.”

Lady Gaga says that beauty is about being yourself

In an Instagram post, Lady Gaga writes, “I heard my body is a topic of conversation so I wanted to say, I’m proud of my body and you should be proud of yours too. No matter who you are or what you do. I could give you a million reasons why you don’t need to cater to anyone or anything to succeed. Be you, and be relentlessly you. That’s the stuff of champions.”

Serena Williams believes diversity helps women feel beautiful

When speaking to Women’s Health Australia, Serena Williams said, “I feel like it’s so important to have women in particular to feel secure and to feel like nothing can hold us back. I love feeling that way. I feel like the more women that can feel that way the more opportunities that we will see. We now understand that having diversity — sex, color, race — really makes a huge difference. Having women — having us — believe in ourselves, really brings out that difference you can make.”

Ellen Pompeo reminds us that aging is a privilege

Ellen Pompeo told PEOPLE that “I think when you’re in your 20s and 30s, you’re super obsessed with your looks because you don’t have any other wisdom. I have the wisdom to know that growing old is a privilege that not everyone is afforded. If my physical beauty is the only thing that leaves me and my health and my family stay, then that is what’s really important to me.”

Constance Wu learned that womanhood isn’t dictated by body standards

In an essay in Allure, Constance Wu writes, “When you’re a teenager, you take cues from your environment to find the metrics of how a culture measures a woman’s worth. And I saw billboards, magazines, TV shows that all equated breasts with beauty. So learning to be proud of my flat chest, to stop wearing padded bras — it was a real milestone for me. Now I love how small breasts look in certain clothes. I’m a long-distance runner, and I love how it helps my athleticism. Of course curvy women are real women. But small, short women are real, too. In fact, there is no part of your anatomy, be it breasts or genitalia, that makes you a real woman. Trans women are real women. Being a woman is something you know in your soul, not something [dictated by] your body type.”

Jameela Jamil is proud of her stretch marks

In an Instagram post, Jameela Jamil writes, “Boob stretch marks are a normal, beautiful thing. I have stretch marks all over my body and I hereby rename them all Babe Marks. They are a sign my body dared to take up extra space in a society that demands our eternal thinness. They are my badge of honor for resisting society’s weaponizing of the female form.”

Helen Mirren celebrates her gray hair

According to PEOPLE, Helen Mirren thinks gray hair can be an asset: “I think women were just so terrified of having white or gray hair because it immediately put them into a different category. And of course, you are in that age group. I’m sorry, but you are! So, why not just embrace it, go along with it and welcome it? Make it a positive thing as opposed to a negative thing.”

Tracee Ellis Ross says feelings of love and worthiness shouldn’t be dictated by toxic standards

Speaking to The Breakfast Club, Tracee Ellis Ross said that “Our culture narrowly defines beauty and this idea that women are only objects and worthy of love if they match up to this ever-changing, always unattainable, arbitrary standard.”

Diane Keaton feels like aging should be an adventure

In an intimate interview with Vogue, Diane Keaton said, “The more we embrace what our own feelings about beauty are, the more fun it’s going to be for us as we go along.”

Salma Hayek encourages us to be our own beholders

In the foreword to Iman’s book The Beauty of Color, Salma Hayek wrote, “People often say that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves.”

Tina Fey thinks we care too much

In her hilarious book of essays Bossypants, iconic comedian Tina Fey wrote, “If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important rule of beauty, which is: Who cares?”

Mindy Kaling reminds us that girls of color deserve to feel loved

On The Power of Story Panel, Mindy Kaling said, I find it very sad that so many girls who look up to me are young women of color who have been told that they are ugly, and who feel that they are not normal…I think it’s so important that women look like me find that they can be beautiful or objects of love, attention and affection.”

Melissa McCarthy focuses on setting an example for her daughters

Speaking to PEOPLE, Melissa McCarthy said that “I want my girls to know what’s real, that how you should or shouldn’t look — all of the shoulds’ — it applies to no one. It’s not real. It’s made up. That person doesn’t really look like that. I should know!…You don’t have to do any of the ‘shoulds.’ I try not to say negative things in front of my girls, like, ‘God, I look terrible,’ or ‘I should go put some makeup on.’ I very consciously avoid stuff like that so that my girls won’t tear themselves down either.”

Meryl Streep says we can express beauty through action and passion

During An Evening of Conversation with Jane Pauley and Meryl Streep at Indiana University, Streep said, “My advice: Don’t waste so much time worrying about your skin or your weight. Develop what you do, what you put your hands on in the world.”

Beyoncé promotes self-care as beauty

Speaking to Cosmopolitan, Beyoncé said she’s inspired by her mother’s definition of beauty: “My mom has always told me that beauty fades but inner beauty is forever. There’s nothing more beautiful than a woman [who] takes care of [herself]. When you drink water, take care of your skin, work out, and work on your mind, body and spirit — you are going to be beautiful, regardless.”