If you're one of those lucky people who didn't have an awkward phase, consider yourself blessed. The rest of us remember those painful years when braces, pimples, and poor fashion choices defined our prepubescent and teenage existence. But we have good news: we're not alone because even Hollywood's most recognizable faces succumbed to the pitfalls of adolescence. And some of their younger selves were so awkward we could hardly recognize them! Can you?
Rachel Bloom Before She Bloomed
It's pretty fitting that Rachel Bloom has the word Bloom in her name, given how much she's bloomed since her teenage days dressed up as Mother Nature. Not that she wasn't pretty then, but it's as though all the pieces of the jigsaw that was her appearance were yet to fall entirely into place. That awkward teenage smile paired with the hilarious getup makes this photo one of our favorites.
Did you really have a childhood if there's not at least one photo of you in some weirdly ridiculous costume? Let's be honest: it's a rite of passage.
Jimmy Fallon Was Always a Goofball
One look at Jimmy Fallon is all it takes to sense that he was always (and still is) one heck of a goofball. Seriously, this man just seems like the type of person to have, like, one, maybe two serious thoughts a day, with all the other thoughts revolving around joyful whimsy jokes. Look at his boyish smile - that truly is the smile of a certified goofball.
His clothing choice, compared to all his friends' fashion choices, makes his joyful demeanor much more apparent. Forget dark Metallica t-shirts; this guy's all in on colorful sweaters.
Olivia Wilde in Her Babyface Years
Olivia Wilde is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful women on the planet today. Whether that's true or not is something we aren't qualified to decide, but that's what many people think. Olivia, however, might be a bit too harsh on herself, at least when it comes to her past self. The actress had plenty to say about her style choices and appearance back in the day.
Wilde kind of roasted herself when sharing this photo, joking that she made up for what she lacked in eyebrows with chin-ne (acne on the chin). That's alright, Olivia - we all fell for the thin eyebrow trend back then.
John Oliver Kinda Looked Like an Actual Olive Back Then
We're pretty sure John Oliver won't take this the wrong way because he's got a great sense of humor, so we'll say it: he reminds us of an olive in the photo below. Do you see it? It's undeniable that the man has since had a major glow-up, given that he's become one of the world's most beloved comics and satire show hosts. Who would have guessed that this goofy youngster would grow up to be a television icon?
Although, even with the olive resemblance, you can't say he didn't look the part even back then. He just looks like that one friend that was always hilarious and a joy to be around.
Lena Dunham and Her Hairless Cat
When Stephen Colbert and Nick Kroll declared the "PuberMe" challenge and asked celebrities to share photos of themselves before their adulthood glow-ups, Lena Dunham quickly jumped on board. Lena took to Twitter and shared the treasure seen below. And we learned a few things about the Girls star when she shared this photo: she started dying her hair at a young age, chose an interesting color, and owned a hairless cat.
We wonder what she named her hairless cat. We have a few guesses: Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, Adam, and Shoshana (the true fans of Girls will get it).
Teenage Mario Cantone Rocking a Unibrow and a "Sugar Daddy" Shirt
Mario Cantone truly stole the show in certain Sex and the City scenes (and its reboot). So we never would've guessed that the fabulous man we came to love on our small screens rocked such an intense unibrow back in the day. You know what they say: your unibrow awareness is at an all-time low when you're young. But you can already see some hints of the Mario Cantone we know and love; just look at his "Sugar Daddy" t-shirt.
It's pretty wild how much this man has grown since the moment this photograph was taken. He definitely had one of the most dramatic glow-ups on this list.
Busy Philipps Before the Freaks and Geeks Era
It's funny that even before the Freaks and Geeks era, Busy Phillips was already one heck of a freak and geek (we, of course, mean that in the most endearing and complementary way possible). This photo showcases her charming oddity, which is something that people should always cherish about themselves - the strange things about us are what make us, us. Also, it's usually what people find most endearing.
We can only hope that some of Philipp's weirdo, maverick teenage energy will rub off on us. Everyone could benefit from a little bit of weirdness - that much is guaranteed.
Kathy Griffin Had a Lot to Say About This Picture
Okay, so Kathy Griffin may be her own harshest critic, given what she said regarding this photo. When confronted with this picture of herself before all the fame and glory, all Kathy had to say was: "And I wonder why I didn't lose my virginity until 20." Ouch. Like, come on, Kathy, you shouldn't be so hard on yourself! We actually think you look adorable in this picture. And the bandana over the forehead is a total look.
We love seeing celebrities looking "awkward." It reminds us of those sections in the tabloids: Celebs, they're just like us! It turns out that, at least during their childhoods and adolescence, many of them are just like us!
Stephen Colbert Rocking Braces and a Tie Because of Course
Stephen Colbert took the "uploading funny pictures of your awkward teenage self" trend to a whole new level. After uploading this hilarious throwback of himself sporting a pair of unsightly braces, he stated that he would personally donate money to certain charities for every celebrity that followed in his steps and uploaded an awkward picture of themselves as seemingly hopeless teenagers. Isn't that just great?
That's definitely a way to make the best out of something "embarrassing" in your past. No one can make fun of you when you're using it for the greater good! Now that we think about it - was that the motivation behind his charitable actions?
Not Even Alison Brie Could Pull off Those Braces
Alison Brie, one of the stars of the cult sitcom Community, definitely fell prey to some frightful dentistry. Just look at those braces. Check out that headgear. Thank goodness our dentally-troubled youth doesn't have to deal with these contraptions anymore. Seriously, they look more like some kind of medieval torture device than they do braces. Thankfully, Brie didn't let her rocky dental situation stop her from achieving her wildest acting dreams.
It's so wholesome to see just how far she has come since wearing those rusty old dentures. We truly couldn't be more proud of her. Good on you, Brie Alison!
Who Knew Little Aidy Bryant Would One Day Shine on the SNL Stage
Imagine being so confident as an adult that you don't mind putting your awkward pre-pubescent photograph on national television for the world to see and laugh at. That's the kind of confidence we aspire to. So who's the powerful gal pictured below? None other than Aidy Bryant. The comedian shared this throwback in a Saturday Night Live Flashback short. We're pretty sure that one of the rules for working at SNL is that you have to be okay with making fun of yourself.
You can't take yourself seriously if you're sharing funny childhood photos on television. And all the funniest people are the ones who don't take themselves too seriously.
John Mulaney Had a Blinking Problem
14-year-old John Mulaney seems to have had a bad habit of blinking at the exact moment camerapeople forced their camera's lens shut. And yet, the man to this day insists that this disastrous photographic tragedy was none other than the cameraman's fault. Yeah, right, John. Sheesh, some people should really learn to take a little bit of responsibility. They should learn to hold themselves accountable for their own actions, like blinking in pictures.
Okay, maybe we're making a big deal out of nothing. After all, it's only a picture. And yet, 14-year-old John Mulaney was apparently pretty shaken up about the whole thing.
It Doesn't Get More 80s Than This Photo of The Office's Angela Kinsey
Before she became The Office's Angela, whom we all know and love (despite - or because of - her hard-boiled attitude), Kinsey was your average fashionable 80s girl. Don't believe us? Well, this picture should be enough to persuade you. Just look at that tracksuit. That thing would probably be worth a few hundred bucks nowadays, given the state of vintage fashion. We haven't said this often throughout this list, but she definitely had style.
It's amazing how accustomed we've grown to the appearance of our favorite TV show characters and how weird it is to see a younger version of themselves. It's like finding youthful pictures of your parents - how did they ever look different from how they look today?!
Teenage Michelle Monaghan Shows Us What 14lbs of Hair Looks Like
14-year-old Michelle Monaghan sure did have quite the healthy head of hair on her shoulders. Seriously, she should give some of that to charity or something; we know plenty of bald men who would kill to have even a fraction of that beautiful mess on their heads. And she certainly knew how to rock it in a natural, carefree way. But the reality of things is that she wasn't very carefree at all.
Why? She struggled daily with the 14 pounds of hair on her head. Okay, we're just being dramatic. Well, she was just being dramatic - Monaghan was the one who claimed these luscious locks weighed a whopping fourteen pounds.
Conan O'Brien's Hair and Freckles Is Forever Recognizable
Even back then, Conan was Conan. There's just no mistaking his iconic ginger hair and goofy demeanor. We wonder if he was as goofy, silly, clever, and hilarious back then as he is today, or, at least, if there were any signs that he would become such a comedic icon. We'd be hard-pressed to believe there wasn't any kind of indication of his comedic genius. Surely at least one elementary school teacher saw it coming.
Like, he's just one of those people that we can only imagine was absolutely hilarious ever since the fateful moment he was born into the world. We'd be very surprised if he wasn't the class clown.
Julie Benz Sure Loved the Color Blue
Remember the hit HBO show about an arguably moral killer, Dexter? Remember his cute wife, Rita? Calm down; we're not giving any spoilers - keep reading. Well, below is Rita, AKA Julie Benz, back in the day. When sharing this picture, Julie remarked on just how much she used to love the color blue, especially when it came to the eyeshade she wore. But one look at this picture is enough to tell that her love for the color blue wasn't limited to the eyeshade.
That sweater's guilty of being blue as well. The only thing missing from this blue-filled outfit is a set of blue braces, but maybe this was taken before orthodontists had different colored bands.
Kate Walsh, the "VP of Marketing and Research and Tooth Transition Team"
Grey's Anatomy star Kate Walsh needed a little bit of a dental plan carved out for her when she was younger, and it seems that her orthodontist did a great job given how her teeth look today. Or, perhaps, her teeth were perfectly fine, and this photograph was just taken in that awkward phase where the milk teeth start falling out, and the new permanent teeth start growing out. That's probably it.
No matter the explanation, Kate embraced her imperfect set of teeth when sharing this picture. The actress dubbed herself "VP of Marketing and Research and Tooth Transition Team."
Amy Schumer Was a Big Fan of Beverly Hills, 90210
Now, who would have guessed Amy Schumer was so into Beverly Hills, 90210? Just look at those posters scattered all across her childhood bedroom. Yeah, somebody ring the 90210 superfan alarm because we've got a 90210 superfan on our hands. One can only wonder what all those years of watching 90210 did to her sense of humor; would she still be who she is today were she not the superfan that she was? Who knows.
There isn't much to say regarding Amy Schumer's looks. She just seems like your average, run-of-the-mill girl living her pre-pubescent life.
Let's Be Honest: Reese Witherspoon's 'Awkward Phase' Is Most People's Peak
Reese Whitherspoon had quite a bit to say about her past self. She mentioned, for example, her 'awkward phase' in which she had huge glasses and 'awkward hands.' Now, while she isn't necessarily wrong about her observations, we have to admit that her "awkward" phase was still more beautiful than our peak phase. Just look at her; she looks great, maybe a bit nerdy, but that only adds to little Reese's charm!
This should be a sign to all who are worried that they look a little too nerdy - there's nothing wrong with some glasses and awkward body language.
Prepubescent Gillian Jacobs
This was way before Gillian Jacobs burst into the scene through her iconic role in the beloved cult sitcom Community. Back then, she was just your ordinary girl - or was she? It's easy to look at these pictures and find some early hint of stardom, something about these stars that could possibly give away the secret of their unrealized future. In Gillian Jacobs' case, we see it in the glow of her eyes.
But that could just be us looking way too into these pictures and projecting onto them things that weren't really there. Guess we'll never know what the truth is.
Nothing More New Jersey Than Ali Larter
You know what they say - you can take the girl out of Jersey, but you can't take Jersey out of the girl. Way before Ali Larter burst into the front of the stage with Legally Blonde and Heroes, she was just a regular New Jersey lass, and that's definitely something you could recognize going by her taste in clothes. New Jersey isn't just a place; it's a full-blown lifestyle.
We wonder how much of that New Jersey upbringing is still in her these days. We guess only those close to her, those who've known her for a while, know that.
Bob Dylan, Is That You? Oh, It's Charlie Day
Don't worry - we also thought this was a photo of iconic musician Bob Dylan at first. It's actually It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's very own Charlie Day. Yeah, we don't think there have ever been two more diametrically opposed figures in the history of US media. That, however, didn't stop Charlie from having his little Bob Dylan phase with an acoustic guitar and a harmonica and everything. Who would have ever thought that this man would grow up to star in one of the most depraved and hilarious sitcoms ever?
Also, it is our humble opinion that more celebrities should have had a Bob Dylan phase growing up. Then we could hear all their amateur-written songs. How's that for teenage embarrassment?
Game of Thrones Star Lena Headey Was Training for the Role Since Birth
In a surprising case of reality living up to the unrealistic expectations our hit shows embed in us, Game of Thrones star Lena Headey actually knows how to ride a horse. It makes sense, given just how much of a crucial role she played in Game of Thrones. Guess they did quite a thorough job in casting the famous series. Wait, now that we think about it, we don't think Cersei ever rode a horse on screen. Wow - that's a missed opportunity.
We do have something else to say about this picture, though. Something entirely unrelated: what on Earth is going on with that horse? What's that face he's making? Never seen anything like it.
James Van Der Beek Definitely Had A Few Before This Was Snapped
Oh, to be young and drunk and at homecoming. James Van Der Beek, in this photo, checks all three boxes. At least, we're pretty sure he's at homecoming, and we're also pretty sure that he's kind of out of it. That's certainly what it looks like. Maybe he's just rocking that goofy smile of his, completely sober. That, too, is feasible. Only he knows the state he was in when this photo was taken.
This photograph does, however, raise a certain question begging to be answered: what exactly was mister Van Der Beek drinking while the camera lens slid shut? That, too, only he knows.
Jane Seymour's Strange Choice of Costume
While you definitely won't be able to knock on Jane Seymour's looks, you could try your luck with her taste in costumes. Seriously, what is up with this one? Apparently, Seymour had reckoned it appropriate for a dance performance of some sort she had as a teenager. We hate to be the ones to break it to her, but she probably should have just gone as a ghost or something.
We get it, though. Every aspiring Halloween lover has had one or two or perhaps even seven bad costumes in their day. You can't win them all, we guess.
We Can't Recognize Vanna White Without the Wheel of Fortune Behind Her
Some people are an inseparable part of their environment. Others are unrecognizable outside their usual context. We're honestly not sure what the difference between the two is, but we do know that Vanna White is pretty much unrecognizable without a vast, colorful wheel full of promise behind her. Like, the second we figured out that this was a photo of her, then we could totally see it, but before that? Blank thoughts.
If you were to show us this photo without any context and ask us who this was, we would probably be at a loss for words. It's a tough one, for sure.
Whitney Cummings and Her Favorite Leotard
Alright, Whitney, we have one question: What about this leotard did you like most? Was it the very 80s confetti-style pattern on it? The little skirt that fashionably comes down from the sides only? There was definitely something about it that called out to Cummings; as she put it, she thought the leotard was a "good idea." And by that, Whitney means that now she looks back and sees that it wasn't a good idea.
Oh, to be young and free and dressed poorly. We wish that brashness and creative freedom we used to have as kids were still at least partially with us. Although most of it ended up in wardrobe disasters, our confidence was admirable.
Kaitlin Olson Sure Loved Some Good Ol' Hairspray
Mick star Kaitlin Olson may just be sporting one of the most 80s hairstyles we've ever seen. There's nothing more 80s than having your hair drowned to oblivion in hairspray, and we do have to admit that Kaitlin Olson was guilty of just that. Some fashion trends just don't age well, we guess. Not that she looks bad or anything like that, it's just a little too 80s for us.
Thankfully, she sorted that hair situation at some point or another. However, this photo makes us wonder whether these hairstyles will ever make a comeback. Truth be told, they probably will.
Full Frontal Host Samantha Bee's Rare Goofy Side
Samantha Bee is pretty much known for her deadpan seriousness nowadays, so seeing her all light-hearted and smiling like this has got us feeling some type of way. Some type of very confused, disoriented way. Is it just us, or does she look a little happier like this? Then again, who knows if we've ever really seen the genuine Samantha Bee? Some stars have their on-screen personas and are totally different people behind closed doors.
That's one thing you definitely shouldn't do with celebrities - feel as though you truly know what's going on with them, as if they were friends, as if they had told you. A dangerous rabbit hole, for sure.
Bellamy Young Looks Like She Popped Out of The Breakfast Club
We're not quite sure what kind of look this younger version of Bellamy Young was going for, but she definitely nailed it. Like, we have no idea what kind of event other than a wedding would warrant such a dress, and even then, she'd have to be the bride. And yet, we can't say she isn't rocking that dress to the utmost. Good on her for her forward-thinking, Victorian-era-inspired fashion sense.
Also, we do have to ask: who is that guy beside her? We wonder if he knew just what would become of his young photo partner. Probably not, but then again - who would've?
Vanessa Bayer Always Loved Being in Front of the Camera
We're not one to jump to conclusions recklessly, but we do feel as though we have some grounds to say that SNL's very own Vanessa Bayer definitely had some kind of affinity for embroidered sweaters. It's a strange thing to like. In a way, one could even say that it's kind of brave. Definitely not something she would be happy posing for a camera in these days. At least, we hope.
And yet, she looks so happy with her cute little sweater on! Maybe she should start wearing those sweaters more often after all, if they make her that happy. Like, why not?
Jenny Slate Blesses Us With a Priceless Bat Mitzvah Throwback
Jenny Slate was documented at one of life's most elaborate traps - Bat Mitzvahs. Sure, they're a wholesome celebration of growing into adulthood stemming from the rich tradition of Judaism. Still, on the other hand, they also almost always seem to be a celebration of teenage awkwardness. We're not sure why, really, but that's just what they turn out to be. Unfortunately, Jenny Slate's celebration was not the exception to this rule.
Though we do have to admit that her blowing out her Bat Mitzvah cake with who we presume to be her mother and father is nothing short of overwhelmingly wholesome.
Broad City's Abbi Jacobson Strikes a Pose
Broad City star Abbi Jacobson definitely sharpened her style sense since the moment when this picture was taken. Seriously, one can only imagine how her career would have turned out if she had stuck to her fashion guns (or, more specifically, to this dress). This is just another reminder that everyone could use a style re-do every once in a while. Nothing wrong with changing things up a bit.
We're going to go out on a limb here and guess the esteemed Abbi Jacobson's career probably wouldn't have taken off as it did if she had worn that dress to her auditions.
Clea DuVall: Future Cat Lady in the Making
Okay, now we could make some kind of comment about Argo actress Clea DuVall and her impeccable 80s outfit, but we'd rather talk about how that cat has a birthday party dunce hat on his head. The internet, after all, was made for talking about cats with hats; that's something we're just going to have to admit at this point. Just look at him; he's so hopelessly cute with his little hat!
We wonder if the whole hat-on-a-cat thing was DuVall's idea or if she was just lucky enough to be in the vicinity of someone with such an ingenious and diabolical plan in mind.
Aisha Tyler Working on Her Choreography
Whose Line Is It Anyway? hostess Aisha Tyler is busting a move here. Nothing intrinsically wrong with that, except for the fact that dance moves may not have been her forte at his moment in time. Seriously, this dance move kind of looks like the moves Elaine was busting out in that notorious Seinfeld episode in which the whole cast can't stop talking about how bad Elaine's dancing moves are.
But who knows, maybe the photo showcased her dancing prowess in a bad light. Maybe she busted it down on the dance floor better than anyone.
Those Are Some Big Glasses, Nia Vardalos
My Big Fat Greek Wedding star sure was sporting a pair of big fat glasses. Yeah, it's a good thing that fashion designers, at some point in time, decided that glasses could actually, given just a tiny bit of effort and planning out, look pretty nice. Just one look at the glasses for sale these days will show you just how long of a way glasses have come since the days of this photo.
Also, we don't mean to be rude or roast anyone, but doesn't she kind of look like that one Scooby Doo character? You know the one - Velma! Velma Dinkley!
Even Andrew Rannells Had an Awkward Phase
Even Girls Star Andrew Rannells seems to have had an awkward phase. It looks as though nobody is safe from being an awkward teenager. It's funny, given that when we were teenagers, it really seemed as though some people just had it all figured out from the get-go. That, however, is just a trick of perspective, we guess. These photos showcase that nobody had their stuff together back then.
Not that the guy necessarily looks bad; it's just that he's definitely an awkward teenager at this point in his life - especially when we think about what he looks like now!
America Ferrera Was Always America's Sweetheart
America Ferrera has definitely broken ground when it comes to her acting career, being the first Latina woman to win an Emmy for Best Actress. Now, who would've been able to guess that that's what America's future had in store for her, going by this picture? You would need quite the clairvoyant to see that just from looking at this picture. Nevertheless, that's what happened, and we're sure she's proud of herself.
We're pretty sure that most award-winning actors wouldn't have ever guessed that they would achieve their acting dreams. Sure, they may have hoped, but to think you'll win an Emmy?
Michelle Trachtenberg Hasn't Changed a Bit
If there's one thing we can often say about kids with a decent amount of confidence, it's that they don't photograph all that well. Like, for some reason, they seem to be essentially unphotogenic. Who knows what it is with kids and camera lenses, but the two just don't mix well. Maybe we should chalk it down to just how energetic and hyperactive kids tend to be and how cameras tend not to like that.
For the sake of preventing future embarrassment, we do wish that all children were just as photogenic as young Michelle right here. Unfortunately, that just isn't the case. Oh well.
We Hardly Recognized Julie Chen Behind Those Glasses
American TV personality Julie Chen may be one of the most recognizable people on American television some people. That's why looking at this photo of a young her is so fascinating. We're not sure why, but looking at young people who haven't yet grown into the version of themselves that we've come to know and love is way too interesting. Like, we could look at these pictures pretty much all day.
And though the picture is quite faded, it's safe to say that she certainly looks very much like herself, despite the oversized glasses.