Remembering Whitney Houston
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- Previous Next4 of 11Ebet Roberts/Redfern/Getty Images
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- Previous Next6 of 11The Bodyguard: Warner Bros./Photofest
- Previous Next7 of 11Tonight Show 1990: Gary Null/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via AP Images
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- Previous Next11 of 11Whitney Houston and daughter Bobbi Kristina: Jeffery Mayer/WireImage
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INTRO_Whitney_vo21 of 11
Fresh Face2 of 11
As a teenager, Whitney had a simple yet captivating beauty. Unwaxed eyebrows and a TWA (teeny weeny afro) accompanied by that megawatt smile landed her on the cover of Seventeen magazine, one of the first African-Americans to do so. Just like the photo of me, on the left, Whitney had sun-kissed skin from days of playing outside with a carefree style.
Dancing Queen3 of 11
On the cover of her second, eponymous album in 1987, she made a white tank top look couture. Whitney was a bubbly 24-year-old who had me, a knobby-kneed second grader, trying to tease my sandy brown hair and sing "Didn't We Almost Have It All." Hanes tank tops and my mom's Clinique raspberry lip gloss did the trick, even if my voice wasn't quite on pitch.
Pretty in Pink4 of 11
This image is one of my all-time favorites of Whitney, because it reminds me of the "Dance With Somebody" video. That's when I figured out that brown-skinned girls could wear pink eye shadow and bubblegum lipstick. In an era of stoic and independent female icons, Whitney was simply fun, and in her effortlessness, she showed me that being a woman of color wasn't a burden, but rather a banner of pride.
America's Daughter5 of 11
Hello, 1990s. Baggy, masculine clothes were an urban fad, but when Whitney took the stage at Super Bowl XXV in 1991, she made oversized tracksuits an all-American style. Not only did her rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" pave the way for the likes of Christina, J.Hud and Beyonce, but also, her sporty style had many of us running to the nearest Footlocker for Fila sneakers and a Reebok warm-up.
Solid Gold6 of 11
We all saw the movie or heard the soundtrack. The Bodyguard captivated the country whether we wanted to be saved by Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner) or be an international superstar like Rachel Marron (Houston). In every performance, Whitney exuded a poise and confidence, especially with this wispy French roll hairstyle and shimmering gown.
The Big Screen7 of 11
As the first huge global crossover soul singer, Whitney continued her ascension in 1995 as one of the stars of Terry McMillan's Waiting to Exhale. Her character Savannah Jackson made the single life look hard but stylish. Soon after, my friends and I went to the M.A.C. makeup counter to buy chestnut brown lip liner, and a transformation began.
Double Take8 of 11
Many of us watching at home stared in disbelief when Whitney and Mariah Carey stood onstage in matching chocolate Vera Wang dresses at the 1998 MTV VMAs. "Nice dress," Carey said. "You look pretty good too," Houston replied. Meant to play up the tabloid reports of a feud, the style stunt turned out to be the inspiration for my homecoming dress that year.
Black Mamba9 of 11
In one of her first comebacks in late 1998, Whitney shocked fans with this sleek leather look. Sassy but sophisticated, the futuristic style of the My Love Is Your Love album oozed defiance. It was a complete 180 from the Whitney I fell in love with as a child, but I, too, had grown feisty in my high school years.
Like an Angel10 of 11
White was the signature color of Whitney's latest rebirth and the album I Look to You. While she couldn't hit all those high-octave notes at the 2009 American Music Awards, her style soared in this stunning white, elongated number. Finally, I thought, this was her moment to regain her title.
Hot Mama11 of 11
Whitney stepped out at last year's Clive Davis pre-Grammy party with Bobbi Kristina looking like mother-daughter twins. Sparkling in a black fitted dress, she made the late 40s look like her early 30s, joining the ranks of other Hollywood A-listers who make modern motherhood boldly glamorous. The makeup was fierce, hair polished, and the overall look made me forget the train-wreck reality show, the wild antics and the tabloid pictures of drugs. Her look brought me back to the Whitney I idolized as a child, the Whitney I'll always remember each time I hear "I'm Every Woman."