During the era of the inflatable chair, neon colored everything, and the backwards baseball cap, it is important not to overlook or forget about the influential women who furthered the cause of gender equality in our culture and on television. They laid the foundation for the type of entertainment, activism, and music we enjoy today, but it may surprise you to see how much many of them have changed in the intervening decades. Let’s take a look!
Among the richest and and most famous super models of the 90s, Linda Evangelista delighted in her fame and popularity. She once told Vogue Magazine that she wouldn’t even get out of bed “for less than $10,000 a day.” Now 51, Evangelista remains as stunning as ever, and she still commands significant influence in the fashion world.
One of the most successful and best paid actresses in the 90s as one of the leading ladies on Friends, Courtney Cox has continue to see steady work on television and in film since the decade she helped shape. She is also noted for her resorting to plastic surgery in order to maintain her “Monica” look from her run on Friends. As she admitted during her guest appearance on Running Wild with Bear Grylls, “Getting older has not been...I don’t think it’s the easiest thing.”
Achieving worldwide fame during the1990s, Dion is still best known for her 90s hit “My Heart Will Go On” from the Titanic soundtrack. Since the decade that made her career, Celine Dion has continued to garner awards and critical success, but has suffered two very tragic personal losses as she saw her husband and her brother succumb to cancer in the space of two days just this year.
It seemed this actress was set to take on the world of film after her smash hit Clueless; however, just two years later she appeared in the absolutely abysmal Batman & Robin, causing her star to fall quite a bit in the Hollywood firmament. These days she is better known as an animal rights activist than as an actress, but she seems to prefer things that way anyway.
Catapulted to fame by her performances in Joan of Arc, Deep Impact, and Eyes Wide Shut, this actress was still only a teenager when her career began to take off. Unexpectedly, she turned her back on Hollywood, became a mom, and now only works as an actress sporadically.
This X-Files star was the sci-fi “it” girl of the 1990s, and her turn as Agent Scully actually inspired a generation of young women to take up careers in both science and medicine. Despite the significant legacy that she has already established, Anderson continues to work in inspirational productions, including the Netflix Original crime series The Fall, for which she has garnered significant critical acclaim.
A famous actress in both the 80s and 90s, Ryder made headlines for her public relationship with Johnny Depp and an Oscar nod for her acting work. Her star waned a bit during the early 00s due to struggles with her mental health and a highly publicized arrest, but she is currently in the midst of a tremendous comeback thanks to her amazing performance in Netflix original Stranger Things.
As famous for her outrageous angry outbursts as for her stunning looks and modeling, Naomi Campbell was like a force of nature in the 90s, and was one of the most discussed celebrities of the decade. Today, Campbell is every bit as successful, with numerous magazine covers and TV shows to her credit, and it is even rumored that she is also working on cooling her famous temper.
While her gorgeous looks haven’t changed much since the 90s, her standing with the general public has. Currently, McCarthy is better known for her anti-vaccine activism, and her promotion of chelation therapy as a medical treatment. Both opinions have garnered her significant criticism, and she is poorly regarded in both scientific and medical circles.
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Achieving her fame as America’s favorite teen slayer on Buffy The Vampire Slayer during the 90s, Gellar has been and continues to be a major geek icon. She hasn’t yet had a show as famous or successful as Buffy, but she continues to work steadily in both film and television.
First attracting the public eye in 1994 as lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson trial, Clark suffered widespread scrutiny and criticism for her role in the case, describing the experience as “terrifying”. Since that time she seems to have recovered though, and has made several TV appearances and even published a novel.
Shooting to stardom thanks to her Playboy and Baywatch careers, Carmen Electra is still considered one of the sexiest women of the 90s. Her personal life also tended to make headlines, such as her nine day marriage to Dennis Rodman. Electra has in no way lost her looks, but the films she works on now tend to have titles such as Lapdance and Two-Headed Shark Attack.
Locklear garnered numerous Golden Globe nominations for her performance on Melrose Place, but failed to find lasting success. In the years following her television career, she became more infamous than famous with her arrest record and public personal troubles despite her continued work on television and in film.
Best known for her work on Xena: Warrior Princess, Lawless has also seen success on more recent hit shows like the Battlestar Galactica reboot and Amy Poehler’s Parks and Recreation. She may never be far out of Xena’s shadow, but she has stated on several occasions that she wouldn’t mind returning to the role if given the opportunity.
As one of the stars of both Clueless and the spin-off show, Stacy eventually saw her star fall due to her vocal right-wing political opinions. She released a book just this year entitled There Goes My Social Life: From Clueless to Conservative, in which she blasts, among several other issues, feminism in general. This came on the heels of her starring appearance in Sharknado 4.
Melissa Joan Hart
Riding the wave of success from iconic 90s hit TV shows like Clarissa Explains It All and Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, Melissa Joan Hart fell off the radar for a few years before finding success again with the sitcom Melissa and Joey.
Germanic blond bombshell Claudia Schiffer was one of the most significant and widely recognized faces of the 90s, and she still holds the record for number of magazine cover appearances of any other supermodel. Even as she approaches age 50, and after having three children, Schiffer still looks as gorgeous as she did during the peak of her career. She also continues to be active and influential in the fashion modeling scene.
Alyssa Milano was one of the most famous television actresses of the 90s thanks to the success of her show Charmed. She has remained a constant presence on television since then as a writer and actress, and has made the transition admirably from teen idol to professional actress. She continues to act even today, and has also authored several graphic novels.
A successful singer and actress, Brandy Norwood’s debut album went multi-platinum, and her sitcom Moesha ran for six seasons. Her success has continued to follow her wherever she goes, and she is not planning on retiring any time soon.
Perhaps the most unintentionally famous woman of the 90s, Monica Lewinsky became a 90s icon when her affair with President Bill Clinton exploded all over the media. She has never managed to shake that notoriety, but she has gone on to design and release a line of handbags, and most recently she has been working as an activist and spokesperson to prevent and raise awareness about cyberbullying.