The Most Shocking Transformations of the Year: From Physical to Spiritual and Everything In Between

Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Tyler Baltierra and more stars are saying thank u, next to 2018 as we head into the new year

By Tierney Bricker 31 Dec, 2018 11:00 AMTags

Thank u, next.

That is what Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Jax Taylor and more stars are saying to 2018 on the last day of the year.

Those three have had quite the transformative years, all dealing with major life milestones in the public eye. And really, what better time to reflect on the last 365 days than on New Year's Eve? 2019 and any resolution-making can wait a few more minutes as we look back on the major changes that went down. 

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Sure, a lot of celebrities went through some pretty shocking physical transformations (like Kevin Smith's inspiring weight loss journey), plenty of stars also experienced different kinds of transformations as the world watched. 

Major relationship shake-ups happened. Lifestyle changes went down. Hair was dyed (and twisted into dreads?!). And yes, some pounds were shed, but in the pursuit of health. 

We're looking back on the most shocking celebrity transformations of the year, including a Teen Mom star and a Real Housewife's respective fitness journeys, Joey King's headline making commitment to her new true crime role and more...

Ariana Grande

What's the No. 1 thing woman tend to do after a break-up? Change their hair! And the pint-size singer said "Thank U, Next" to her signature ponytail, debuting a sleek and chic lob in November after the end of her engagement to Pete Davidson.

Just before debuting the dramatic new ‘do, the 26-year-old revealed she was "in constant pain" because of her iconic ponytail.

When Camila Cabello tweeted at Grande, "I just did a high ponytail for the first time and it is literally pulling on my BRAIN ITS SO PAINFUL HOW DO YOU DO IT,"  she responded, "Well you actually have hair so that (probably) makes it a lil more painful," Grande replied, alluding to her natural hair, or lack thereof. "Nah jk I'm in constant pain always and don't care at all."

But as her hit song "Thank, U Next" proved, she lived through the pain, both from her hair and the tough year she had—enduring two public (and highly scrutinized) break-ups and the death of her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller.  And guess what? She's so amazing.

Meghan Markle

Has anyone had a more transformative year than the former Suits star, who officially became a royal—the Duchess of Sussex, to be precise—when she married Prince Harry in May as the world watched (and her family drama played out in the headlines, thanks to her father Thomas Markle and half-sister, Samantha).

And the big year didn't stop there, as Prince Harry, 34, and Meghan, 37, announced in October that they were expecting their first child, and will be moving away from Kensington Palace.

Justin Bieber

Last year, Justin was ringing in the New Year with his ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez in Cabo, sparking another round of are-they-or-aren't-they rumors. But this NYE, he's welcoming 2019 as a married man, as the "Love Yourself" singer reconciled with model Hailey Baldwin, proposed and said "I do" over the summer.

"First thanksgiving as a married man, first time hosting thanksgiving. First time both sides of the family has come together," Justin reflected in a Thanksgiving Instagram post. "Relationships are hard and love isn't always easy but thank you Jesus for showing me how! Every day is a learning process, trying to be more like him, patient, kind, selfless, boy I got a long way! But gods grace is sufficient!"

Also, the 24-year-old newlywed also went through quite the hair changes throughout the calendar year, most recently buzzing off his long locks after vowing to grow it to his ankles. (Alas, he never made it that far.)

Joey King

The Kissing Booth star shocked her fans when she showed off a buzz cut for her new role, the murderer in a new Hulu show called The Act. The 19-year-old told fans, "My name for the next 4 months, is Gypsy Rose Blanchard."

"This story is very disturbing and I am honored to be able to portray it," she said of the opportunity. "What a wild ride this will be on The Act."

Zac Efron

Cool look, bro!

There's no denying Efron, 31, is a very attractive man. (Just look at our Instagram account!) But one new look he debuted this year caused quite a social media storm: dreads.

In July, The Greatest Showman star posted a photo on his Instagram of a full head of dreadlocks, he captioned the pic, "Just for fun."

Shannon Beador

After spending last season unhappy with her weight and her marriage, The Real Housewives of Orange County star returned for season 13 divorced and down 15 pounds from the 40 she had gained.

"I've always been a healthy eater, but I just kind of went off the deep end a little bit, so I am eating clean and healthy again," she told E! News back in March. Since then, she's lost a total of 24 pounds.

Teresa Giudice

RHONJ fans have known Teresa's strength for years—remember when she flipped an entire table?!—but no one was prepared to see the reality star and cookbook author take on a new profession in 2018: bodybuilder.

Following her 11-month stint in prison back in 2015 and as her husband continues Joe Giudice serves his 41-month sentence, the mom-of-four became dedicated to her health, eventually finding a passion for bodybuilding before competing in her first ever competition in June, placing in third out of eight.

"Teresa has been training since December and doing it five to six times a week," a source told E! News of her fitness journey. "She's also drastically changed her diet. She was looking for a new way to challenge herself and now she's in the best shape of her life."

Jax Taylor

Vanderpump Rules' ultimate bad boy seems to have finally changed his ways…but it wasn't an easy journey for the reality star. After admitting to cheating on his longtime girlfriend Brittany Cartwright, Jax had a rough season on the Bravo hit last year, quitting SUR and breaking up with Brittany by season's end.

But then Jax's beloved father died suddenly, and everything changed for him. Instead of spiraling, he leaned on Brittany, telling Andy Cohen, "Ever since then I can't imagine myself without her."

And in the season seven premiere, fans watched as Jax proposed to Brittany, with all of the cast noticing a change in him, and they are planning a summer 209 wedding in her home state of Kentucky.

In a recent Men's Health interview, Jax revealed he's lost 43 lbs after realizing he wasn't taking care of himself, keeping Postmates in business and drinking too much.

It looks like Jax has finally grown up!

Kevin Smith

The director celebrated a 51-pound weight loss this year after he was hospitalized for a heart attack.

"Six months ago from right now, I was in the hospital recovering from a heart attack I'd had the night before," he wrote. "When I went to my doctor a week later, she told me 'The best thing you can do for yourself now is to lose 50 pounds.' Half a year later, I can report that I followed doctor's orders: I started at 256 and now I weigh 205. This is the lightest I've been since high school!"

The 48-year-old is now a Weight Watchers ambassador and has adopted a vegan diet.

Arie Luyendyk Jr.

Talk about the most dramatic transformation ever! The blast-from-the-past Bachelor (who last appeared on the franchise five years ago) became the most scrutinized man in America when he revealed he had a change of heart after proposing to Becca Kufrin…only to realize he actually made the wrong choice and wanted to be with his runner-up, Lauren Burnham.

After a painfully awkward, unedited and polarizing on-camera breakup with Becca (who would go on to become the Bachelorette and get engaged to Garrett Yrigoyen), Arie, 37, then proposed to Lauren during the live After the Final Rose special. And proving their doubters wrong, the pair announced their wedding date (January 2019!)…and later revealed they are expecting their first child in June 2019.

"The first thing we thought of was, 'Oh, my gosh. Our wedding!' Obviously we're not married yet, but this is the way it happened," Lauren, 27, told Us Weekly. "And this is probably the way it was meant to happen!"

Keiynan Lonsdale

While filming Love, Simon, the first mainstream gay teen romance film to hit theaters in the U.S., Lonsdale, came out as bi-sexual in an Instagram post, drawing inspiration from the message of the movie. (His co-star Joey Pollari  also came out as gay during production.)

"Doing Love, Simon was really inspiring for me," Lonsdale told Out magazine. "I thought, Wow, I'm doing a film about equality and coming out, and the director has his partner and their child on set, and everyone's so supportive and loving, and yet here I am still hiding. At what point am I going to be able to be myself? I realized it had nothing to do with anyone else. It was just me holding myself back."

Over the summer, Londsale announced on Twitter that he would be leaving Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash as a series regular. 

"I've changed a lot in the past year (as you've probably noticed lol), and for infinite reasons my perspective on life and what I want from it now is just completely different," he wrote. "Because of that, my heart told me it was the right time to continue my journey on an unknown path, and I'm so damn grateful to both shows for honoring and respecting that with me."

Soon after that, he delivered a powerful speech while accepting the award for Best Kiss at the MTV Movie Awards for Love, Simon's epic kiss. 

"I just want to say to every kid, you can live your dreams and wear dresses," he said. "You can live your dreams and kiss the one that you love, no matter what gender they are. You can live your dreams and believe in magic."

Rob McElhenney

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia fans were surprised when the 41-year-old star showed off his chiseled new look in the season 13 premiere…and he did it for the FX show after gaining weight…for the show.

 "Look, it's not that hard," Rob wrote on alongside before and after photos. "All you need to do is lift weights six days a week, stop drinking alcohol, don't eat anything after 7pm, don't eat any carbs or sugar at all, in fact just don't eat anything you like, get the personal trainer from Magic Mike, sleep nine hours a night, run three miles a day, and have a studio pay for the whole thing over a six to seven month span."

"I don't know why everyone's not doing this," he continued. "It's a super realistic lifestyle and an appropriate body image to compare oneself to. #hollywood."

Tyler Baltierra

The Teen Mom OG star dropped 43 pounds this year, documenting his weight loss journey on Instagram for his fans.

"208lbs to 165lbs!" the 26-year-old revealed. "I've been eating healthy for about 7 months (no processed foods/low carbs/no sugar) but I've only been working out for 3 of those months & I'm finally starting to see results from it!"

But Tyler and wife Catelynn will be adding a few pounds of happiness soon as they are expecting baby No. 3, a girl, after previously suffering a heartbreaking miscarriage, which was documenting on the MTV reality hit.

Khloe Kardashian

The E! reality star and Tristan Thompson welcomed their first child together, True Thompson, in April, which was her "greatest dream realized."

But the cheating scandal that rocked her world just days before she gave birth proved just how strong Khloe is, allowing Tristan to be in the delivery room even after it was revealed he had allegedly been unfaithful with multiple women.

"This is something I've been waiting for my entire life," she later reflected on Keeping Up With the Kardashians. "I don't want to take away anything from this moment, and I have always been a believer of 'Don't make permanent decisions off temporary emotions.'"

And in a tweet, the Revenge Body star said she was "proud of myself for how I handed everything. True gave me the peace and strength I needed."

Channing Tatum

For the first time since he's been one of Hollywood's most beloved leading men, Channing is dating in the public eye. Fans were in mourning when he and wife Jenna Dewan announced in April that they were splitting after nine years of marriage.

"There are no secrets nor salacious events at the root of our decision — just two best-friends realizing it's time to take some space and help each other live the most joyous, fulfilled lives as possible," the couple said in a joint statement. "We are still a family and will always be loving dedicated parents to Everly."

And since then, there's been no drama, even as both Channing and Jenna have moved on. In November, the Magic Mike star confirmed he was dating pop star Jessie J in a sweet Instagram post, while Jenna is dating Tony Award winning-actor Steve Kazee.