Over the past year or so, we’ve experienced Ariana Grande’s rise from a mid-tier pop star with a few big hits to one of the biggest stars in the world. She had a whirlwind year in her professional career, her personal life, and she’s currently running herself ragged on a world tour. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is Ariana’s trusty ponytail. Ari and her pony have been going strong for years, and it’s one relationship that I don’t see ending anytime soon.
Today, in honor of Ariana Grande’s 26th birthday, let’s take a look back at the evolution of the most famous ponytail in the world. From its days as a young ponytail, full of hopes and dreams, to a strong, confident pony taking over the world, it’s really been a journey.
Early in her career, Ariana Grande was best known for her iconic work on the Nickelodeon shows Victorious and Sam & Cat. On the show, her character had bright red hair, so Ariana dyed her hair red in real life for years. Honestly, my roots hurt just thinking about this. Still, there’s our beloved ponytail, just waiting for its moment in the spotlight. You’ll notice it hasn’t taken its rightful place on the very top of Ariana’s head yet. This pony looks like a kindergartener on her first day of school, still a little shy, and waiting to come out and play. An introverted ponytail, if you will.
As you can see, by 2013 Ariana’s ponytail had moved considerably higher by this point, with the big, loose curls that she loved when she was younger. Gone was the shyness of that red pony in the last photo. This was the beginning of pop star power pony—large and in charge, and destined to do big things. But really, the best thing about this is the entire 2013 Instagram aesthetic. The angle. The photo quality. The caption. :D. I’m deceased.
As you can see, Ariana Grande looked almost exactly the same in 2014 as she does now. You could tell me this is a photo from last week and I would believe it. The only thing that’s really changed is that she doesn’t drape her hair over her shoulders like a curtain anymore, as she’s doing here in 2014. That pony is fully a creature just living its best life up there. It could not be tamed, no matter how sweaty it makes her shoulders. But we all have to sacrifice for our beauty at some point, and I suppose sweaty shoulders was the sacrifice Ariana had to make back in this era.
I’m mostly including this photo because seeing Ariana Grande and Big Sean is physically jarring to me, but that’s not the only reason. This was an important period for Ariana, because she was in a half up, half down phase with her hair. Technically, the ponytail never went away, but this is still a pretty big departure. Also, this is just a shocking amount of hair. I have no idea how much of this is actually hers vs. extensions—probably mostly extensions. That has got to be heavy. I also wonder, does her real ponytail get jealous when Ari gets extensions? I feel like the ponytail must get jealous.
Bangs. Bangs!!! I had completely forgotten about Ariana’s bangs phase, but I kind of love it. Not gonna lie, the ponytail can get a little boring sometimes (I still love u ponytail), and the bangs were a smart and noncommittal way to switch it up without actually letting her hair down. Everyone goes through a bangs phase at some point, and Ariana pulled it off better than most. RIP bangs, 2016-2016. You had a decent run, but the ponytail asserted its dominance over Ariana’s head and was the last one standing.
As you’ll see in the next few photos, Ariana Grande’s look literally has not changed since the end of 2016. The tan is deep, and the pony is high and LONGGGGG. I feel confident saying that this ponytail is mostly extensions, but obviously the expensive kind. I’m still waiting on official confirmation of how she could go to the bathroom with a ponytail that long. Maybe the ponytail just instinctively knows when to make itself shorter and longer? It’s so big, it has to have its own thoughts and feelings at this point.
I could literally copy and paste everything I wrote for the photo before this, but apparently that’s lazy? Honestly though, Ariana Grande is lazy with her hair, though, so it fits. This is a classic example of Ariana’s ponytail demanding to be the center of attention. Ari usually doesn’t do the shoulder drape anymore, but here the pony refused to be relegated to the background. Pony, you’re doing amazing sweetie.
Happy 2019! I love this photo of Ariana and her best friend Pony. They both look great here, such a cute photo. As you can see, very little has changed, except that she’s added in some crimped texture and maybe a few more highlights. Is it 2004 again? Adventurous. I guess when you’re the most followed woman on Instagram, there’s not a lot of incentive to switch things up. We’re all just trying to find our signature style, and Ari figured hers out early. Should I…get a ponytail down to my ass? Lmk in the comments.
Happy birthday Ari, I hope you and your ponytail have a great day!
Images: Shutterstock (5); arianagrande (4) / Instagram
Ariana Grande has been unbelievably popular over the last few months, and her success has made me ask some important questions. How is she so talented? Why didn’t I buy tickets to her concert before it sold out? And, most importantly, who are all these people she’s constantly hanging out with? How did they meet her? How can I become a part of this group? Seriously, one of my biggest regrets in life is that I’m not one of Ariana Grande’s friends.
In her recent videos for “thank u, next” and “7 rings,” Ariana Grande has basically turned her friends into celebrities by association. She’s even tweeted about how all her fans should follow them. Some of them are childhood friends, while others are newer collaborators. Oh, and they’re all hot, lol. If you’ve found yourself spending hours stalking all of these people on Instagram, but never known who they truly are, here’s a guide to all of Ariana Grande’s friends.
Of all of the frequent faces in Ariana Grande’s crew, Liz Gillies is probably the most recognizable. She’s the second one from the right, btw, and if you’re squinting at her because you swear she looks familiar, it’s because she was on Victorious. These days, she’s best known for starring in the Dynasty reboot (or playing Cady Heron in the “thank u, next” video, see above), but she’s known Ariana for more than 10 years. In 2008, they were both in the Broadway cast of 13, which means I’ve idolized Liz Gillies since I was in middle school. She has an actual career, so she’s not constantly hanging out at Ariana’s apartment like some of these people, but she’s usually around when it matters.
As you probably know by now, Ariana’s song “7 rings” was inspired by a time when she got drunk and bought diamond rings for her six best friends at Tiffany & Co. When I get drunk, my friends won’t even buy me an entree at Waffle House, smh. The first person with a ring is Alexa Luria, who has over 600k Instagram followers thanks to her best friend status with Ariana. Lexie grew up with Ariana in Florida, and they’ve been friends for almost 20 years. These days, she basically travels the world taking pics for her food Instagram, so like, same.
Much like Alexa, Courtney Chipolone has been around since the beginning, because they were childhood friends. Actually, Ariana has said she and Courtney are cousins, but no one actually knows if they’re related. This definitely seems like something Ariana would say as a joke one time and then the fans never forget it. But whatever, you’d be lying if you said you didn’t have that one family friend who you call your cousin for simplicity purposes and now everyone thinks you’re actually related. Courtney is a student at Florida State, and she keeps it pretty low-key when she’s not hanging out with Ariana.
One of the main men in Ariana’s crew, Doug Middlebrook, has been Ariana Grande’s friend since at least 2014. He and Ari are constantly hanging out, but he also literally works for her. He’s involved in the production and management side of things, and was the tour and production manager for Ariana’s One Love Manchester benefit in 2017. He’s also the voice you hear talking at the beginning of “In My Head” on Ariana’s latest album.
Out of all the ladies in Ariana’s crew, Tayla Parx probably has my favorite origin story. Last month, my friend and I were hungover AF and decided to watch Hairspray (it’s still amazing btw). Little did I know, the girl who played Little Inez is TAYLA PARX. Well, back then she was just “Taylor Parks,” but still, good for her on the successful rebrand and career. My hungover mind was blown, and I immediately texted like 12 people about this. These days, she’s a v successful songwriter, and she’s also starting to release music of her own.
Much like Tayla Parx, Victoria Monét is a songwriter who’s worked with Ariana Grande on a lot of her recent songs, and she also has a performing career of her own. In the past, she’s toured with Fifth Harmony and Ariana as an opening act, but I would imagine her solo stuff will be getting a lot more attention now that Ariana is like, the biggest star in the world. She is also truly so pretty, like, it’s not fair.
Rounding out the fellowship of the 7 rings is Njomza Vitia. Easily identifiable by her icy-blue wig, Njomza is—you guessed it—a songwriter who also releases solo music of her own! It’ll be really interesting to see which of the women in this group is successful in their solo careers, because they’ve all gotten a lot of opportunities from being so close to Ariana. Njomza is from Albania, and became a U.S. citizen when she was 16. Her music is really cool, and I have a feeling she’s gonna be big.
So yeah, if you’re interested in becoming one of Ariana Grande’s friends, I guess you have two options: you can either go back in time and grow up with her in Florida, or become an incredibly talented songwriter. Oh well, not like I wanted to hang out with her anyway.
Images: Shutterstock; @lizgillz, @lexie1225, @courtneychipolone, @dougmiddlebrook, @taylaparx, @victoriamonet, @notnjomza / Instagram