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The Messy Era of Y2K Female Celebrities

Features Section Editor, Sophie Poredos, takes you on a wild tour of the early 2000s including an all-new exclusive on the raunchy lives of Hollywood’s party girls. 

It’s Britney, bitch. 

Glossy magazines of super-skinny celebrities in low-rise jeans, crisp-blonde bleached hair and bright orange fake tan. As I layer on my ‘vintage’ 2000s Britney Spears Fantasy perfume, what engrained Y2K aesthetics in my mind is not the concealer lips or the sequinned Hannah Montana top I owned; it was the messy female celebrity feuds and lives exploited by the Paparazzi: 

‘Teens Gone Wild! Older Men, all-night partying, extreme PDA.’ –Weekly US

‘Sizzling summer secrets; is Lindsay copying Hilary?’ –J-14 

‘Brit slammed by parenting coach; Sick! Mental illness signs worsen, Leaves boys in a car while shopping, Swaps clothes with bartender’ –Weekly US 

Vox titles the misogynistic treatment of female celebrities in the early 2000s as: ‘bubble-gum misogyny’ [1]. We classify women according to the level of their ‘bimbo-ness’ and praise their attractiveness, yet seemingly tear down their achievements for their sex lives. This phenomenon of ‘pitting women against each other’ as later quoted by Paris Hilton [2], was largely influenced by the rise of tabloids such as TMZ in 2005. TMZ operated under a false pretence of investigative journalism, with a notable dedication to exploiting ‘morally corrupt’ female celebrities in their lives of drugs, debauchery and attractiveness. During the naughty noughties, TMZ caught bait of their biggest story yet; 90s IT girls Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan and seemingly a ‘fire-crotch’. 

How could a girl from Beverly Boulevard sink to the level of publicly calling out a girl on the colour of her pubes? Easily enough when fuelled with enough vodka-raspberries and when unwillingly sharing the same man with Lindsay Lohan; Stavros Niarchos. What began as Lohan being the other woman, led to physical fights, insults thrown, and a decade-long feud between the two women. In a time of limited social media, the paparazzi were the only source of gossip – though when older men have an unhealthy obsession with the sex lives of barely legal teens, you have to question the benefit of this style of reporting. After all, on July 2nd 2004, Lohan had just turned 18 and men were already publicly declaring their intentions for her; 

Suddenly, this year, it became socially acceptable to note that the redheaded child actress was hot’. [3]

However, back to the feuds between Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, a new era had been instigated, of exploiting troubled women and traumas into catfight titles that outsold magazine stands. Women were highly objectified, and the public was encouraged to stone them for their slutty behaviour; after all who can forget the interview with Britney; 

‘I really wanna know whether you are a virgin?’ [4]. 

The paparazzi’s culture of witch-hunting for purity is reminiscent of the 1600s, though sex was also one of the only ways for female celebrities to rise to A-List fame. It was an interesting bind to put on women; sleep around and you’ll be shamed but you’ll also become the front-cover page of tabloids galore. In particular, Britney spoke out about how her brand image in her 20s was that of an ‘eternal virgin’, with constant interviews asking about her sex life with her then partner:

Justin Timberlake is in the house, and I just want to ask you one question—did you f--- Britney Spears?’ [5]

Despite Lindsay and Paris’ struggles with drugs, revenge porn and abusive childhoods; they were never victims in the eyes of the media. Lindsay Lohan was a kleptomaniac and fell in and out of rehab for her drug addiction for many years, but the media framed her as a wild and uncontrollable girl. Similarly, Paris Hilton suffered sexual assault and psychological abuse at a troubled teen boarding school as a young teen. However, her persona transformed to become the ultimate ‘party girl’, raising her career to the success it has today with a net worth of $300 million [6]. 

Whilst both girls weren’t role models and publicly declared degrading exchanges – after all, who can forget the iconic ‘Lindsay's a c*nt’ – the constant invasion of privacy and scrutiny of their lives for just existing, as a girl, surely acts as motivation for their wild behaviour. It is important to note that on several occasions Hilton has been found to say both racist and homophobic remarks and in no way is this piece intended to praise her character or behaviour; this piece is investigating the media’s misogynistic representation of young women in the early 2000s and its lasting implications on their career and mental health. 

Whilst Y2K fashion is making a resurgence in 2024, there also appears to be a revival of purity culture. The constant invasion of privacy by the TMZ tabloids has been replaced with social media and the ability to infringe on people’s space in public. It's easy to pat ourselves on the back for our false philanthropic feminist attitudes now, but the stark reality is that we still treat celebrities as characters. In particular, the misogynistic stain of the media has not been wiped, as I’ve witnessed the countless degrading comments of incels on Instagram posts, asking for a user’s Only Fans, only to tear the woman down afterwards. Women are still subject to constant vilification of their characters as ‘sex symbols’ when they embrace their sexuality, yet men are only seen as ‘sexy’. 

To end this era of the messy girl celebrity, let me put forward this vox quote about navigating girlhood in an era of purity culture; ‘Only one thing was clear: There was no right way to be a girl. There were only different ways to fail. And we learned that from pop culture’ [1]. Perhaps in the roaring twenties, we can adorn our sequin tops once more, without men searching behind its material. 

[1] Grady, Constance. The bubblegum misogyny of 2000s pop culture, 2021.

[2] White, Adam. ‘I’ve Been Violated My Whole Life’: Paris Hilton on sexism, #MeToo and surviving the trauma of Y2K fame’, 2023.

[3] Binelli, Mark. Lindsay Lohan: Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, 2021.


[5] Kaplan, lana. Britney Spears Says Team Portrayed Her as an 'Eternal Virgin' Despite Her First Having Sex at 14, 2023.

[6] Bonner, Mehera. Wow, Um, Paris Hilton's Net Worth Is About to Be Even Higher Than Her Parents', 2023.,long%20to%20make%20their%20money


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