Britney Spears, Monica Lewinsky, Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson—each of these women were torn apart by the media at the peak of their fame, labeled in unforgiving terms by the public and forced to live as the punchlines of crude jokes. Twenty years later, however, they’ve regained control of their narratives and have garnered apologies, or at least acknowledgment, for the sexist, patronizing and reductive criticism they faced at the time. Britney ended her conservatorship. Monica reframed her ordeal courtesy of new TV shows and documentaries. And Paris, well, she kept on Paris-ing, new husband in tow.
So it came as no surprise to me when Pamela Anderson joined their ranks as a once vilified female celebrity finally earning her due respect. Hulu’s miniseries, Pam & Tommy, which recast the duo’s infamous sex tape as a story about invasion of privacy and public trauma was a hit with audiences (though Anderson did not approve), giving many a new perspective on an old Hollywood scandal.
And now, Netflix has released a documentary on Anderson’s rise to fame and the difficulties that followed (this one sanctioned by the actress). And Anderson herself is getting juicier roles, recently ending an eight-week run as Roxie Hart in a Broadway production of Chicago—to pretty great reviews, I might add.
The bigger surprise is that Pam’s signature sense of style is also getting an updated, more dignified resurrection. Because, let’s be honest, in the ‘90s and early aughts, she wasn’t exactly what you would call haute couture.