Photos of Mariah Carey Then and Now

The pop diva's dramatic transformation from ingenue to mother of two

January 1, 1990

Mariah Carey burst onto the pop charts at just 20 years old with her multi-platinum self-titled debut album in 1990. While her voice got most of the attention—she has an impressive 5-octave vocal range—her gorgeous body got almost as many headlines.

June 5, 1993

In the mid of 1993, Mariah Carey tied the knot with Tommy Mottola, Columbia Records' executive and the individual responsible for her rise to stardom. Despite the pressures of a complicated marriage and demanding career possibly leading to some weight fluctuations, she remained optimistic. She expressed, "I've never stepped on a scale, which is the interesting part. Many people obsess over their weight saying 'I can't believe I gained 2.5 pounds.' Our bodies experience so much change in water weight, it's important not to become a slave to the scale."


As her musical star continued to rise—her 1994 holiday album is the all-time best-seller in its category—her personal life was filled with turmoil. Her song "One Sweet Day," written for her sister Allison who died of AIDS in 1995, became the longest running number-one song in U.S. history. In spite of these struggles, she maintained a polished public persona.

May 8, 1997

Carey's public divorce from Mottola in 1997 only brought more scrutiny of her private life and stress in her career (her contract with Columbia Records hadn't yet expired). But in 1998 she cemented her stardom when she sang alongside Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Gloria Estefan, and Carole King in the VH1 Divas benefit concert.

July 1, 2001

Thanks to mounting pressure, relationship woes, and a failed movie and album project, Carey suffered a very public "physical and emotional breakdown" and was hospitalized for "extreme exhaustion."

She explained her weight gain at the time saying, "I've [always] been a very athletic person. I thought I could get away with it. Plus, I'm 'ethnic' so some people forget that, but some people give me a pass for that because we're allowed to be a little thicker."

October 16, 2006

Following an extended period of convalescence that allowed her to re-evaluate her profession in music, Carey made a triumphant comeback in 2005, earning herself 10 nominations for the Grammy Awards. Nevertheless, her increased body weight began to steal the limelight, stirring up speculations about her iconic abs being artificially enhanced with makeup. Reflecting on her past, Carey confesses, "Indeed, I have been on and off diets as my weight fluctuated by approximately 15 to 20 pounds over certain years."

November 9, 2008

Marrying actor, comedian, and rapper Nick Cannon on April 30, 2008, marked a significant period in the singer's life, characterized by both personal and professional triumphs. At this time, she was promoting her "Touch My Body" album, which followed the successful "Emancipation of Mimi." While she may have been heavier than she was at 20, Carey appreciated her newfound muscularity. Her physique was not necessarily more toned than it is currently but was appropriately conditioned for her weight during that phase of her life.

December 12, 2010

In 2010, Carey realized her dream of becoming a mother with the birth of her twins. However, her journey was fraught with challenges as she experienced severe edema during her pregnancy. This condition causes excessive fluid accumulation in body tissues, which led to her gaining over 70 pounds and being confined to bed rest. Describing the experience Carey shares, "The pregnancy was so debilitating that I carried until it became perilously dangerous for me. I don't believe there could be a bigger challenge."

October 21, 2011

On April 30, 2011, Carey became a mother to twin babies Moroccan and Monroe. She shed 40 pounds in the first week post-delivery, which was mainly water weight. However, there were still 30 pounds of pregnancy weight remaining. Having had a challenging experience with her pregnancy and a c-section, she decided to shift her focus primarily on her diet instead of working out extensively. She stated, "Previously, I would always prioritize exercise when dieting, but after becoming a mother, I realized that diet plays a more significant role. It contributes to about ninety percent of the overall weight loss process."

November 9, 2011

Only half a year after welcoming twins into the world, Mariah Carey shed the final 30 pounds and stepped into the role of spokesperson for Jenny (previously known as Jenny Craig). The method behind her transformation? Incorporating her Jenny meal regimen with regular trips to the gym. "My current focus is really on toning. I never had to put so much emphasis on toning because I was always naturally toned. But, after what my body endured, working out is not optional. You really have to hit the gym," comments Carey about her new routine.

March 1, 2012

Mariah Carey is back in the game, finding a harmonious balance between her career, marital life, and motherhood. This equilibrium is vital, especially given her spouse Nick's health condition (at 31, he had to be admitted to the hospital due to kidney failure and was later discovered to have lupus nephritis, which causes inflammation in the kidneys). For an in-depth understanding of how Mariah reclaimed her rhythm, grab your copy of the May edition of SHAPE! The celebrated singer talks about weight loss, health, her thoughts on Whitney, among other topics.

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