At this point, the curse of the child star is pretty well documented. It’s pretty clear that actors who get into the industry at a young age suffer from more scandals and trauma than those who become actors at an older age. Whether that has to do with their troubled family life or the pressures of the acting industry is up for debate, but one thing’s for sure: from Shirley Temple to Shia LaBeouf, not too much has changed in the last hundred years of Hollywood.
A sad by-product of this multitude of issues faced by child stars is the deterioration of their looks. In some cases (we’re looking at you, Macaulay Culkin) the facial features which make children cute can just make adults look plain creepy; but a lot of the time (sorry, Lindsay Lohan), it’s the years of stress can make these actors physicalities look tired and worn out. Just to rub salt in the wound.
As the home of child stars (alongside their rivals Nickelodeon), Disney has the best and worst of the bunch, as well as the most known. So in this list, we’ll be looking at ten child stars from the Disney Channel who suffered from the ravages of child stardom. Slip on your Mickey Mouse ears, break out your magic wands, and let’s get started!
20 Lucky: This Is What Dreams Are Made Of
Can we have some praise for Hilary Duff? While all of her other child star colleagues were out partying, sleeping around, racking up DUIs, and generally causing a nuisance all around Hollywood, Duff spent her time working on music, acting in smaller independent films, writing a trilogy of books and starting a family with her husband Mike Comrie.
Duff and ice hockey player Comrie have since split, and I can’t say I’m too sad about it. After all, that just means that we finally have a prince and princess marriage like every Disney movie... Right, RIGHT!? I'm kidding, of course, but Hilary is a dream come true.
19 Not: A Sight To See
He never officially starred in any Disney Channel movie or TV show, but Aaron Carter was a big deal on Radio Disney, and he also cameoed on Lizzie McGuire and had a live concert special for the Disney Channel. It makes sense because his particular brand of shiny white teen idol was perfect for the station back in the day.
Since then, however, Carter's career has just gone further and further downhill. After declaring bankruptcy in 2013, he was arrested in 2017 for driving under the influence. Sadly, Carter has faced a great deal more stress over time, and is still battling his fair share of drama. Good luck out there!
18 Lucky: Everything Is Not What It Seems
Selena Gomez has been in the limelight pretty much non-stop since her stint on Disney's Wizards of Waverley Place, so we doubt that anyone will be surprised by how amazing she looks, but she’s still very worthy of a place on this list. Selena always had a baby face, and even when she hit 21 she still looked like she could pass for a teenager, but she’s made her innocent look work for her with some more grown-up clothing and hair choices.
Selena’s amazing looks are all the more impressive given her highly public health issues. Either way, she looks amazing in our eyes.
17 Not: Darn Africa, What Happened?
Where do we even begin with Lindsay Lohan? As much as we went to keep rooting for her, I think it’s about time that we give up on the idea of her ever having a career again - last time we heard, she was living in the Middle East, converting to Islam and sticking up for Harvey Weinstein.
It doesn’t help matters much that she looks incredibly messy. There’s something about the combination of sun-damaged skin, bleached hair and teeth that may or may not have been affected by a certain item which is just tragic to look at. To be fair, Lindsay has cleaned herself up a little since this photo was taken, but she’s definitely not at the level of girl next door beauty she had during Mean Girls.
16 Lucky: The Best Of Both Worlds
Say what you want about Miley Cyrus, but the girl really is gorgeous - no matter how much she tries to hide it with ridiculous outfits and haircuts. I’d venture to say that she looks even better now than she did during her Hannah Montana days. Needless to say, she has lost some of that girl next door vibe she was forced to have during her Disney days.
Miley’s story post-Disney has been pretty well documented, but for a rundown: she had an incredibly controversial VMA’s performance, got addicted, went to rehab, became a country music star and is now a coach on The Voice. I can’t even be mad at her.
15 Not: Before You Judge Too Harshly...
Can anyone actually recognize who this Disney star might be under their very DIY mask? It’s none other than Shia LaBeouf, who broke out for his role in Even Stevens before going on to act in one of the biggest blockbuster series of all time, Transformers.
Since then, Shia’s been charged with a lot of different crimes — on a lot of different occasions. It seems bad until you remember that his dad was a Vietnam War vet who took a lot out on his poor son. He also invited him to meetings and went to rehab for addiction, so it’s no contest where Shia would have learned his bad habits from. More than anything, this is just sad.
14 Lucky: Take Me To This Camp
Demi Lovato’s been through her fair share of personal troubles, but it’s pretty inspiring to see her coming out the other side and looking so incredible while doing it. When she first appeared on Disney Channel in Camp Rock, Demi was pretty innocent looking - she had the whole white teeth, bangs and big voice thing going on. But since then she’s really matured her look, and now she’s come out the other side looking like one of the bad girls from Grease.
With all that said, there’s still something about Demi which I find a little bit annoying. It always seems as though she’s trying too hard to impress or be funny, which can come off as a little grating. Hopefully, her personality will grown-up just as much as her look did.
13 Not: Poor Eddie...
If you’re a fan of That’s So Raven, I’m sure you’ll recognize Orlando Brown - he played Eddie on the show for almost 100 episodes. Following that, he’s struggled to get a steady job - he wasn’t even invited back for either of the Raven spin-offs - and even worse, in 2016 he was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor among many other —far more terrible— crimes.
Poor Orlando's struggles are obvious to fans. It’s not just the tattoos - Orlando just looks straight up rough, and a far cry from the lively character he played on the Disney Channel for so many years.
12 Lucky: Farewell, Sharpay
Ashley Tisdale was all over the Disney Channel for a few years, having starring roles in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Phineas & Ferb, Aliens in the Attic and the High School Musical franchise, while simultaneously taking over the radio with her two albums Headstrong and Guilty Pleasure. The girl clearly has a hard work ethic, which has definitely seemed to keep her out of trouble - she hasn’t faced the same issues as someone like Lindsay Lohan at least.
And to match that hard work ethic is Tisdale’s image, which is often squeaky clean and girl next door. She’s gone a little more sophisticated in recent years by dying her hair brown, but Tisdale still fits into the Disney Channel mold pretty well, even this many years later.
11 Not: Baby, One More Time
Do we even need to talk about Britney Spears? She basically went from strength to strength right up until 2007, where a well-publicized divorce with husband Kevin Federline caused her to spiral right off the deep end. Spears lost custody of her children, resorted to recreational items, shaved her head, attacked people with an umbrella and basically had a complete mental breakdown.
Since then, Spears has basically managed to keep her act together and has made a pretty nice comeback into the limelight with several albums and a Vegas residency.
10 Lucky: Suns Out, Guns Out
Tisdale’s co-star Zac Efron’s career was pretty much built on his looks, so it’s good to see that he hasn’t let them slip one bit even after leaving the Disney Channel. His style has evolved though: back in his High School Musical days he had the infamous swoopy fringe later plagiarised by Justin Bieber, as well as the whole boy next door look which made fangirls hearts flutter.
Nowadays, Efron has transitioned from boy next door to beach god. He’s clearly spent hours in the gym each week for the past few years to achieve his body, so it’s no surprise he’d want to show it off - and anyone who’s seen Baywatch will know that he does so regularly. Thankfully, he’s also been working on his comedic chops which makes him a lot more likable as a person, too.
9 Not: From Innocentina To Tina
Christina Aguilera’s style has evolved quite a lot over the years. When she first debuted on The Mickey Mouse Club alongside Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling, and Justin Timberlake, she was the fresh-faced, innocent girl next door; but by the time she released ‘Dirrty’ she was the neighborhood fright. She flirted with a vintage style for a while, but in 2010 she started going really downhill, which leads to situations like the image above.
Since then, Aguilera has yoyoed between big and small every couple of years, although her large phases definitely outweigh her tiny ones. Let’s hope not just for the sake of her career, but also of her health, that she finally manages to keep the weight off.
8 Lucky: The Steamiest Girl On Disney Channel
Vanessa Hudgens first broke out in High School Musical, but it didn't take long until she became a symbol in her own right. Part of that status came from her publicly linking up with co-star Efron, but most of it came from the fact that she had three widely publicised photo scandals, which stunned parents worldwide and made Hudgens unhirable for most family-friendly projects in Hollywood for a few years.
Nowadays, Hudgens often trades on her image for dramatic effect, playing innocent characters who turn out to be completely tough in films like Sucker Punch, Spring Breakers, and Machete Kills. Moreover, she still looks just as amazing as she did way back when.
7 Not: Ryan Who?
I’m not gonna lie, I totally had to Google who Ryan Ochoa was when I saw a picture of him researching this article. Apparently, he’s big for roles in iCarly (which I'm sadly all too aware of) and the Disney series Pair of Kings (which I’ve never heard of in my life), and he seems to have a pretty big teen girl fanbase online.
It’s surprising because Ryan Ochoa has never been quite up to par with the Disney all-stars out there. In fact, if I was a meaner person I might even say that something about that afro, that monobrow, and that choice of outfit is just the perfect storm, and makes Ryan look like that nerdy kid in school who’s always inviting himself to other people's parties.
6 Lucky: Double The Fun
Aly & AJ were never quite on the level of Disney channel stars like Hilary Duff or Zac Efron, but they had a pretty big fanbase thanks to their good looks and all American girl image which proved to be a hit in the Christian community. Of the two, Aly was definitely the bigger star: she starred in Phil of the Future and the Original Movie Now You See It... before going on to star in Hellcats and iZombie; but AJ also starred with her in the Original Movie Cow Belles, as well as The Goldbergs.
However, most of the girls' success comes from their music, which was in heavy rotation on Radio Disney back in the day. After almost ten years apart, Aly & AJ just released their first song together again, and we have to say they both look better than ever. At least there’s hope!
5 Not: OC Must Stand For Original Catastrophe
Most people would probably remember Mischa Barton from The O.C., where she played the role of Marissa Cooper for three seasons until her character was unceremoniously ended The Cooper character was quite troubled, and in a case of life imitating art she was apparently written out for the difficulties that Barton was experiencing in her personal life as well.
Of course, Barton’s troubles make a lot more sense when you realize that she was once a Disney channel star, playing the lead role in the Disney Channel Original Movie, A Ring of Endless Light. She was only 16 when she played that role, and it wasn’t even her first: that honor goes to the stage show Slavs!, which Barton starred in when she was just eight. Is it any wonder things went downhill?
4 Lucky: Style For Days
Adrienne Bailon was a big part of the Cheetah Girls franchise, which involved several movies, some equally successful soundtrack albums, tours and a large merchandising tactic; but it wasn’t until her later years when she broke out from the shadow of the group as a star all on her own. Originally finding fame for dating Rob Kardashian (the photo above shows why he’d be keen to add her to the family tree), Bailon then went on to become a reality TV star in shows such as Empire Girls: Julissa and Adrienne and The Real.
While she looked quite young and spunky back in her Disney days, Bailon has really come into her own since growing up. She always looks incredibly polished.
3 Not: A Rose With Many Thornes
Poor Bella Thorne. The girl had everything it takes to be a Disney Channel star: some natural good looks, a decent acting ability, and an above average singing voice; but there seemed to be something about her which people just couldn’t connect with. Despite Disney shoving her down our throats with her ongoing role in Shake It Up, Thorne never quite took off on the network. Maybe that’s why Thorne’s decided to jump off the deep end in recent years, overhauling her red hair with off-putting green streaks and applying the worst makeup imaginable.
On the flip side, Bella recently starred in a new Netflix exclusive special that —while maybe not high 'art'— has a big budget and was certainly enjoyed my millions of loyal fans. It's always nice to see people step up when they're down. Great work!
2 Lucky: Shaking Up The Stereotype
Zendaya is one of those girls who is big on Instagram for doing not too much other than attending the right parties and acting decently; and it’s gotten her far, with big roles in Spiderman: Homecoming and The Greatest Showman propelling her career further than I ever thought possible.
But the biggest reason for Zendaya’s success definitely has to be her looks, which have undoubtedly been the reason for many Likes and Comments on Instagram over the years. Zendaya changes her style a lot, from sleek and professional to boho and casual, but her natural beauty always shines through. Zendaya also has yet to have a public scandal of any kind, which has to be pretty rare for a 21-year-old. Let’s hope she manages to keep it up.
1 Not: That’s So Not Raven
Good old Raven Symoné was truthfully probably the most talented person on Disney Channel for a long time. Her comedic timing in That’s So Raven was impeccable for her age, and it makes the show a joy to watch even years later. She’s also a pretty good singer, and has released a bunch of R&B albums over her career to varying degrees of success.
Sadly, Raven’s looks haven’t exactly stuck with her since she was that cute little girl on TV. Raven was never one to blend into the crowd, but while that was cute when she was young it just kind of comes off as tryhard now.