Lorde is a teenager’s answer to Lana del Rey. Her sleepy, dreamy, pop songs capture teen angst, young love, and boredom with the bourgeoisie. Her breakout single “Royals” was all but inescapable this year, bouncing from early-adopter college radio DJs to the top of the pop charts, proving the mass appeal of her growly voice and danceable beats. I support a teen dream’s right to dress however they want, but it is nice to see a seventeen-year-old working tastefully goth skater dresses and statement lips without baring everything.
Chloe Grace Moretz, 16
Chloe Grace Moretz exploded onto the scene in 2010 in the ultraviolent Kickass, a role that she reprised in this year’s equally slash-y sequel. Mindy/Hit Girl gave us a brilliant juxtaposition of high school mean girls and criminal violence that was totally cringe-worthy and fulfilled many a pissed off teen’s fantasy. Chloe is a very pretty girl, but she has the most fun playing damaged, destructive characters. It’s inspiring to see a young teenager having fun in her own skin and experimenting with kickboxing, music videos, and campy horror.
Dakota Fanning, 19
No “young celeb” list would be complete without Dakota. Dakota Fanning is the child star after which all child stars want to model their careers. A serious actress with the red carpet sense of a teen It Girl, modeling credentials with Marc Jacobs, and paving the way for her ethereal baby sister, Dakota Fanning has already accomplished more by by 19 than plenty of adult stars ever will. We’re looking forward to more on point red carpet looks, future Oscar nods, and blissful hair moments.
Maisie Williams, 16
Can you believe Arya Stark is 16? The sword wielding baby Stark is just as cool in real life as she is on screen, even without her signature weapons and face dirt. She frequently performs with her dance group in flash mobs, has awesome eyebrows, and holds her own against beastly, beardy men on one of the most popular shows of 2013. I would have idolized Arya as a kid, and Maisie does a brilliant job of creating a fierce, sympathetic character that shows what little girls can do.
Hailee Steinfeld, 17
She made her debut in True Grit with some seriously unflattering braids, establishing herself as a formidable acting presence in one of the year’s best films (and holding her own against some grizzled and highly sought after male leads). In 2013, we saw her as the powerful Petra Arkanian in Ender’s Game. Her enviable hair and eyes take a back seat to the dramatic roles she plays, making her an entirely different type of starlet from those getting by on youthful beauty alone. Her red carpet choices are continually trendy and age appropriate, and I look forward to seeing her continuing to top best dress lists.
Adèle Exarchopoulos, 20
Grazes the top age bracket of our list, but Adele was under 20 when she filmed one of the year’s most talked about indie films. Like Miley, this French beauty is making a name for herself with a bit of nudity. But the NC-17 romantic drama that’s making her famous, Blue is the Warmest Color, also shows off serious acting chops and a quiet, classically French beauty. Her work with co-star Lea Seydoux is subtle and intense, and will be generating heat for years to come. We also love her red carpet looks that somehow always straddle the line between relaxed and smoldering. Where can we get some lace pajamas?
Chlöe Howl, 18
Britain’s answer to Swedish pop stars like Robyn, Chloe Howl has an infectious sound and killer ginger coloring that makes her Annie Lennox cut look even better. Her music videos are technicolor dreamscapes that almost (almost) make us want to be teens discovering young love and cheap guitars in our bedrooms again. I dare you not to dance along to Paper Heart (and try out some blue eye shadow and combat boots, while you’re at it).
Lindsey Wixson, 19
Lindsey is one of the most recognizable faces in the recent resurgence of supermodels. Her unconventional features started casting trends on the runways, (ahem, Georgia Mae Jagger) with some young models even expanding the gaps between their teeth. So many models are untouchable, but Lindsey Wixson proves that a strong mouth, impressive height, and gap teeth can win you as much fame and fortune as they do high school teasing. Fame doesn’t seem to have gone to her head, and one of her first purchases after making it big was a house in her hometown in Kansas.
The only downside to these inspiring ladies is that they make us feel a little less precocious in comparison. At least we have another few years before they’re competing with us in bars for the best cocktail hour entertainment.