Justin Bieber’s Transformation From "Baby" Tween To Sex Symbol

Image: Getty/Chelsea Lauren.
These days, Justin Bieber is skyrocketing toward bona fide babe status. Those abs. The tats. The Calvin Klein ads. That perfectly muss-up-able hairdo. He's basically becoming a latter-day Mark Wahlberg, minus the Boston accent and acting chops.

But once upon a time — not so very long ago — Justin was just a Canadian boy with a hit song titled, appropriately enough, "Baby." So, when did he go from being a geek-dorable tween to the heartthrob we know and shame-ogle today? That journey was not exactly swift or sudden. But it is trackable via photographs of the Biebs from back in the day to now. Come along with us on an incredible journey, where you'll see the singer's transition before your very eyes! (It's so magical that, yes, that exclamation point was fully merited. We stand by it. Now, without further ado…)

1 of 30
Rick Rowell.
This pic was snapped back in August 2009, during a performance for Radio Disney. He was only months away from releasing his first-ever EP, My World.

Note how 15-year-old Bieber and the guitar are basically the same size, and that he's already cultivating his own version of the emo boy haircut, side-swept bangs and all.
Advertisement
2 of 30
Photo: Getty/Ian Willms.
He's still 15, this is still 2009, and he still looks like a baby animal from a Disney animated movie. Possibly a deer? We're going with baby deer. Awww, he's a FAWN, you guys.
3 of 30
Photo: Getty/Larry Marano.
And we're fawning all over him. (Get it? #Sorrynotsorry.)

But in an adorable way, not a sexy way because, let's face it: Even though he was rounding the bend to age 16 in this shot, which was captured in February 2010, he was still just baby Bieber.
4 of 30
Photo: Getty/Steve Granitz.
This is a normal face for any 16-year-old hanging with Usher at the 2010 American Music Awards to make. No chill. No problem.
5 of 30
Photo: Getty/George Pimentel.
So, here's where the story starts to shift a little bit. Maybe it's the mixing of leather fingerless gloves and buffalo plaid — or perhaps it's the emotional floor prostration — but something about this Bieber pose during the 2010 Jingle Ball performance makes it clear that he's moving along on his manhood journey.

Also: His hair is shorter.
6 of 30
Photo: Getty/Jeff Kravitz.
That is a long vest and the only thing we have to say about this moment with Ke$ha at the 2010 Grammy awards.
Advertisement
7 of 30
Photo: Getty/Dimitrios Kambouris.
Yep. We like the direction this haircut is going in. Also, is that a leather tie? It looks like he's wearing a leather tie.
8 of 30
Photo: Getty/Mark Sullivan.
First off: How cute are these two? You know, just two rising teen stars on the red carpet of the Vanity Fair Oscar party, back in 2011, looking dapper and syncing up handkerchief and dress. (Side note: Why won't my boyfriend do this with me?)

Second off: Is it possible that Selena Gomez was the turning point in Bieb's journey from boy to bae? This is when he started showing up on red carpets and looking good, instead of as if he'd gone shopping in a locker room lost-and-found.
9 of 30
Photo: Getty/Jason Merritt.
Oh, hey girl. I didn't see you there from behind my sunglasses and acid-wash denim vest with what appears to be a tie-dye handkerchief/pocket square.

(Apparently, this is what one wore to the BET Awards back in 2011. We wonder if one wishes one would not have committed this tragic fashion crime, knowing what one knows now?)
10 of 30
Photo: Getty/Christopher Polk.
MTV Video Music Awards 2011 with Selena Gomez
She looks like a dream. He looks like a child record producer. No sex symbol in sight, yet. Also, anyone who can figure out what's in Bieber's right hand wins a prize.
11 of 30
2011
Photo: Getty/Jeff Kravitz.
Here's Bieber at the 2011 American Music Awards with Selena Gomez.

Interesting move with the three-piece suit. But dare we say it's working? And that even though he looks like a very young banker from the Roaring '20s, we're into it?
Advertisement
12 of 30
Photo: Getty/NBC Newswire.
Hanging with Usher yet again, this time on the Today show. It's been less than two years since that no-chill moment. Clearly Bieber is coming into his own a little, and starting his collection of dope bomber jackets in interesting patterns.
13 of 30
Photo: Getty/Kevin Winter.
Look closely: The tattoos make an appearance at the 2012 Teen Choice Awards.
14 of 30
Photo: Getty/Chelsea Lauren.
If that isn't a crowd of teen and tween girls going wild for a man in a leather jumpsuit, we don't know what is. He's starting to look blonder, too. And is he wearing gold gloves?

Bieber in concert with Cody Simpson and Carly Rae Jepsen, 2012.
15 of 30
Photo: Getty/Kevin Mazur.
Biebs loves a drop-crotch pant. Also, this pic was snapped during a performance at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in 2012. When you're surrounded by underwear models, you know you're starting to tiptoe toward grown-up territory.
16 of 30
Photo: Getty/Lester Cohen.
Also, performing onstage with Nicki Minaj at the American Music Awards is another indication that you might be starting to tap into your true star power.
Advertisement
17 of 30
Photo: Getty/Marc Andrew Deley.
And then there are those abs.

Did you feel that? It was the earth moving beneath the sighs of a million teenage fans.
18 of 30
Photo: Getty/Ben Rose.
This 2012 Jingle Ball performance is indicative of a phase in which Bieber wore a lot of sunglasses inside. While that's not necessarily the mark of a sex symbol, it is sort of impossible to deny that sunglasses themselves can be sort of sexy. By the transitive property, suddenly Bieber is sort of sexy, too. And legal, by the way.
19 of 30
Photo: Getty/Ben Rose.
Jingle Bell 2012
"Lustin' For Justin" is probably the best rhyming fan sign of this decade.
20 of 30
Photo: Getty/Carlos Alvarez.
Justin Bieber concert in Madrid sunglass
Everything about this is so on-brand for late-teens Bieber: Monochromatic ensemble. Drop-crotch pants. Indoor sunglasses. Inexplicable gloves.
21 of 30
Photo: Getty/David Livingston.
The sunglass phase continues. In the meantime, Bieber gets catapulted to a new tier of stardom when Believe — the docu-film that explores a 2012 tour for the album of the same name — drops on Christmas day, 2013.
Advertisement
22 of 30
Photo: Getty/Jeff Kravitz.
WAIT A MINUTE WHAT IS GOING ON HERE.

Who is this man and what did he do with little-boy Bieber? The singer basically looks like a new person at this 2014 Fashion Rocks event. Maybe it's the fact that we can see his eyes?

Nope. It's the abs. And the pecs. And the briefs.
23 of 30
Photo: Getty/George Pimentel.
2014
Around 2014, he started making this face fairly often. Sure, he looks a little confused. But that slightly furrowed brow and barely-parted pout thing he's doing are werk-ing, for sure.
24 of 30
Photo: Getty/Marc Piasecki.
And then he showed up in Paris alongside Kendall Jenner. Maybe some of her sex symbol model-ness rubbed off on him?
25 of 30
Photo: Getty/Kevin Mazur.
This pic was snapped on the red carpet before Bieber's Comedy Central Roast in 2015.

But while he was looking pretty sharp with his fitted blue suit and beach-y blond hair, what was truly a big deal about this particular moment in time is that Bieber suddenly started displaying a little bit of humility. (For more on that, watch his speech.)

In the words of Paris Hilton: "That's hot."
26 of 30
Kiss FM Wango Tango show 2015
Photo: Getty/Chelsea Lauren.
And then this happened. Let it be known that at a KIIS-FM Wango Tango show in 2015, Bieber became an honest-to-goodness sex symbol. So swoon-worthy, this guy.
Advertisement
27 of 30
Photo: Getty/Kevin Mazur.
Plus, now that he's got a track with Skrillex (and a Grammy award), it seems like he's just being Bieber, and has less to prove. Confidence: It gets us every time.
28 of 30
Photo: Getty/Gregg DeGuire.
We're even a fan of this version of his new hairstyle.
29 of 30
Photo: Getty/Kevin Mazur.
He's also cultivating some seriously swank bomber jackets, not to mention a really enticing social circle. (Hanging out with Lady Gaga at the Palladium for a Fashion Week show? Yes, please.)
30 of 30
Photo: Getty/Kevin Winter.
58th Grammy awards
But the moment that Bieber truly sealed the sex-symbol deal according to us is when he brought his cute little brother Jaxon to the Grammy awards red carpet this year. It was like seeing the whole Bieber journey come full circle. How cute is this kid?!
Advertisement