On Monday morning, when the Internet greeted us with photographs of Taylor Momsen prancing around a stage in platform shoes with an actual tip jar embedded in the soles, we cradled our Gossip Girl DVDs and wondered how we got here. Where did it all go so wrong? When did Cindy-Lou Who, or even the Jenny Humphrey of GG Season One, turn into a sullen raccoon-eyed shell modeling stripper heels? Gird your loins and join us as we trace Momsen's evolution (or devolution) from bubbly teen to poster child for eye-makeup remover. Prepare to clutch your pearls: It ain't as pretty as she is.
As unbelievable as it seems right now, once upon a time, Taylor Momsen looked like this: fresh, showered, happy, summery, and above all, her actual age (at this time: 13 going on 14). Although, if we'd worn a strapless dress like this one in ninth grade, our mothers would have spent the entire event hissing at us to pull it up. Is this foreshadowing? We think you know the answer to that.
Seriously, how cute is this kid? Sadly, these happy days — of real hair, flattering makeup, and shoes seen places other than Hollywood Boulevard — were, like innocence itself, not to last. In this photo, in fact, you can already see The Change happening: The short emerald romper and long, tousled locks make Taylor look a bit like, in her rush to grow up, she's about to Single White Female her Gossip Girl co-star Blake Lively.
A year into Gossip Girl, Little J is finally 15 — and this ensemble smells of a girl who thinks that's so mature. Hell, if we'd gotten a leather jacket at that age, we'd have busted out the kohl pencil, too. But while we're grateful this look of Taylor's is still mostly age-appropriate, you can't miss the hint of raccoon at her eyes, the hint of dark at her roots, the hint of bad-girl in her leather … and thus, the hint of where this is all headed.
This coif dealt the first blow to Taylor's image. It's a crime against nature, humanity, and above all, hair. Taylor looks like she did it herself with nail scissors. While blindfolded. Given her depressed visage and that shapeless sack dress — which appears to be covered in grease stains — we suspect this butchered platinum rebellion was brought on by resentment of having to go to work every day with Blake, who might have the best golden head of hair on TV today. That has to suck. But can't we all agree that head-suit violence is never the answer?
Now it's really starting to unravel. Taylor's ever-changing, over-snipped shag reminds us of being 19 and trying to tweeze our eyebrows after a keg party: Pluck a few, take a break, impulsively pluck a few more, and suddenly, you're coloring in large bald patches with an old lip pencil. And she's obviously aiming for a more adult fashion statement. There's still remnants of her girlish sweetness in it, but on the whole this look takes a sharp turn toward "scullery maid at the Playboy mansion," which is scary on someone who's not old enough to vote. Or drive.
Here, Taylor has forged ahead from "minidress" to "partial dress," as we're pretty sure this silver number is transparent, and that we're seeing torso flesh and the waistband of her tights. Compliments of the season to her parents, as surely their most fevered holiday wish that year was to be gifted with a child that no one can look at without inadvertently committing a crime.
Taylor's alarming affinity for transparency continues, although she waited until her 16th birthday to publicly unveil her festering rock-and-roll side, as front-woman for the Pretty Reckless. As an audition for a musical based on Blondie, this is all very effective, but we'd rather she went inside and tried to brush her now-silver hair. By the looks of it, that'll take her a while, and it might be enough time for someone — anyone! — to surreptitiously empty her closet and stock it with some actual clothing.
The Year of the Rocker forged ahead quickly with yet more grunge nostalgia: baby-doll hemlines and plaid all rolled into one. Two questions: Do we think Taylor intended to show up at an event sponsored by a makeup store with her eyes done as sloppily as if she'd slept in the makeup? Second: Can we borrow that rosary around her neck, so we can pray that she's wearing pants under the picnic blanket? Amen.
All of Taylor's baser instincts have completely taken over, as in the third act of a horror movie where the zombies devoured most of mankind. The ratty makeup, the exposed inner thighs, that unwashed hair … it seems that in the fight to individualize herself, Taylor has instead become a washed-out echo of Courtney Love (that, or she's up for a Taxi Driver remake we don't know about). Also, as disastrous as Kristen Stewart's Joan Jett do was, at least she didn't do as Taylor did: glue extensions to her head that evoke a back-combed Barbie somebody's brother threw in the toaster. Between Momsen and Jessica Szohr, WHAT is happening in the Gossip Girl hair trailer?
By this time, we assume Taylor's crabby because nobody is taking her dark side seriously enough, and so she's rubbing her insanely-old-for-her-years attitude in our faces by dressing like a sexy 35-year-old widow from a long-forgotten Italian art-house film. Also being rubbed in our faces: her cleavage, and the fact that Santa apparently left the proverbial lump of kohl in her stocking one month early. Honey, how much more attention do you need before you knock it down a few (hundred) notches?
Apparently, a lot more: Recently, booty shorts and thigh-highs have become Taylor's uniform. But never did we feel as concerned for her well-being as we did when we saw this photo. She's bedraggled, frighteningly wan, derelicte (to borrow from Zoolander), and wearing a dress not much longer than a chef's toque. This goes beyond putting the "naked" in "naked rebellion," and puts us knee-deep into, "Isn't anybody going to stop me?!? Aren't you watching?"
Currently a month shy of turning 17, Taylor's performance attire no longer deviates much from her around-town clothes. Not that these technically count as clothes: a torn T-shirt, garter belt, and lacy stockings better befit the centerfold in Groupie Tour-Bus Orgy magazine. And Saturday's pièce de résistance, the Lucite "Tip Jar" heels, truly blur the line between making a cheeky joke and being the butt of it: Whether Taylor thinks this look encapsulates genuine sex appeal or just Gaga-lite performance art, no one her age can possibly truly grasp the complexities of the message her wardrobe is sending. Pretty Reckless, indeed. Here's hoping Taylor's eighteenth year is the Year of the Pants. Surely that's the only place left for her to go. Right?
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