The 2000s was a decade of celebrities, style, hip hop music and activism. There were so many notable things happening in the 2000s that one has a hard time pinning them all down.
Let’s have a look at the Top 15 symbols of the 2000s below:
Table of Contents
- 1. The Ralph Lauren Polo Shirt
- 2. Juicy Couture Tracksuits
- 3. Tiffany & Co. Bracelets
- 4. Paris Hilton
- 5. Britney Spears
- 6. The Gulabi Gang
- 7. Malala Yousafzai
- 8. The #Metoo Movement
- 9. The #BringBackourGirls Movement
- 10. The #HeForShe Campaign
- 11. The #YesAllWomen Campaign
- 12. Time’s Up
- 13. Retro Mobile Phones
- 14. Hip Hop Music
- 15. Balenciaga Motorcycle Bag
1. The Ralph Lauren Polo Shirt
Ralph Lauren created the Polo brand in 1972. Ralph Lauren named this brand after the Royals’ sport to convey prestige and wealth. Even though the Polo shirt was already famous in the 1980s and 1990s, in the 2000s, it became a popular symbol of fashion.
It was endorsed by celebrities and sexualized by pop culture. Celebrities like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton were seen pairing this fashion item with short skirts. Baby sized polo shirts with cap sleeves, and bare midriffs were occasionally adorned by Hollywood stars. These shirts also made their way in popular TV shows such as the OC. 
2. Juicy Couture Tracksuits
The Juicy Couture tracksuit became a major fashion symbol in the 2000s. At the time, the Juicy Couture brand was trying to get publicity by designing tracksuits for celebrities. The first Juicy Couture tracksuit was designed for Madonna in 2001.
Soon the brand started sending this matching tracksuit to other celebrities like the Kardashians, Jennifer Lopez and Paris Hilton. By the middle of the 2000s, the Juicy Couture tracksuits were associated with ‘new money.’ 
The velour tracksuits were matched with oversized bags and were the epitome of fashion at the time. At its peak, Juicy Couture was making approximately $605 million in sales. 
3. Tiffany & Co. Bracelets
The clunky Tiffany and Co. bracelets were a significant fashion symbol in the early 2000s. These popular bracelets had a heart-shaped or round tag attached to them. This tag had a unique registration number so that if lost, the rightful owner could be found.
This American luxury brand’s bracelets became a fashion symbol when celebrities like Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie were seen with them on screen. The gold bracelets cost over $2000 and were out of the question for many. But the silver bracelets cost $150, which meant saving up all your summer job cash if you were a teenager.
4. Paris Hilton
A popular Hollywood celebrity, Paris Hilton was at the peak of her fame during the 2000s. Famous for her wardrobe, style, behavior and appearances, Paris was looked up to by many young women at the time.  Hilton rose to fame in 2003 due to a leaked sex tape with her boyfriend at the time, Rick Salomon.
She then starred in the famous TV series The Simple Life with socialite Nicole Richie. The series hit 13 million viewers. Hilton also published a book in 2004, Confessions of an Heiress, that became a New York Times bestseller.
She also starred in a number of Hollywood productions. Throughout the 2000s, Hilton was a noted pop culture figure. The Heiress was also known to revive the ‘famous for being famous’ phenomenon. 
5. Britney Spears
Britney Spears, also known as the Princess of Pop. She largely influenced teen pop during the early 2000s. Starting her career as a teenager, Spears’ first two albums Baby One More Time and Oops I Did it Again, are some of the highest selling music albums making Britney one of the bestselling teenage artists.
Spears herself produced her fifth album, Blackout, which is referred to as her best work by experts. Spears was also ranked as one of Billboard’s biggest stars in the 2000s.
In 2012, she also launched a perfume brand partnering with Elizabeth Arden. In 2012, sales from the brand exceeded a whopping $1.5 billion. Forbes magazine also listed Britney as one of the highest-paid musicians in 2002 and in 2012. Britney Spears also turned out to be the most searched celebrity on search engine Yahoo! for seven times in twelve years. 
6. The Gulabi Gang
The Gulabi Gang is a vigilante group that originated in the poverty-stricken Banda district of Uttar Pradesh. The gang was formed in response to the widespread violence and domestic abuse in the region. Many bamboo-wielding women decided to take matters into their own hands when they heard a neighbor abusing his wife.
The Gulabi gang movement gained momentum and spread. Today large groups of women have risen, dressed in pink. They try to tackle violence and injustice in different parts of the nation. 
7. Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai is a Nobel Prize laureate and Pakistani activist representing female education. Malala was a native of the Swat valley in northwestern Pakistan, where the Taliban militant group had banned girls from going to school.
She advocated against this, and her efforts gained international recognition. Even Pakistan’s Prime Minister called her the ‘most prominent citizen’ of the country. In 2012 Malala was shot in retaliation to her activism by a Taliban gunman, who then fled the scene.
Following the attack, she was taken to the UK for treatment. This attempt on Malala’s life led to an international outpour of support. There was a report by Deutsche Welle in January 2013 that Malala may have become the world’s most famous teenager.  
8. The #Metoo Movement
The #MeToo movement is a social movement against sexual harassment and abuse faced by women. The phrase ‘Me Too’ was used for the first time in this context on a social media platform, Myspace, in 2006. It was used by activist and sexual assault survivor Tarana Burke.
Just like other empowerment movements, the purpose of the MeToo movement was to empower survivors of sexual assault through solidarity in numbers as well as empathy. This movement went viral on social media with the #MeToo hashtag. High profile Hollywood celebrities also joined the movement, and soon the #MeToo phrase was being used in many different languages as well. 
9. The #BringBackourGirls Movement
The Bring back our girls’ movement (BBOG) started in April 2014 when more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted from a secondary school in Nigeria. The Boko Haram Islamist insurgent group abducted them. The aim of the BBOG campaign was to pressure the government to bring back the abducted school girls alive and safe.
Many expected the BBOG movement to be short-lived. This is because this movement was initiated in a region already plagued by conflict where the daily pressure of survival lowered priority for social causes. Another reason was that women-led movements in patriarchal societies usually are short-lived. The outcome of BBOG was exactly the opposite. 
10. The #HeForShe Campaign
The HeForShe campaign was created by UN Women to promote gender equality and women empowerment. The purpose of the HeForShe campaign was to involve boys and men in removing the cultural and social barriers that hinder female empowerment.
The HeForShe campaign helps men realize that they are equal partners in promoting women’s rights. Gender equality is a shared vision, and it can benefit us if both men and women join hands and work towards this goal. 
11. The #YesAllWomen Campaign
The #YesAllWomen campaign is a social media campaign in which women can share their experiences of violence and oppression. This hashtag was first used in online conversations related to misogyny and went viral in answer to the #NotAllMen hashtag.
Soon the #YesAllWomen hashtag started representing a grassroots campaign in which women started sharing personal stories of discrimination and harassment. The crux of the campaign was to raise awareness of sexual violence and discrimination, often by people they are acquainted with. 
12. Time’s Up
Time’s Up is a group that raises funds to support victims of sexual assault and harassment. The Time’s Up group was created in response to the MeToo movement and the Weinstein effect. The group has raised as much as $24 million in donations.
The Time’s Up group also collaborated with the National Women’s Law Center and created the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. The purpose of this is to provide legal and media support to individuals who have been subjected to workplace sexual harassment. 
13. Retro Mobile Phones
Mobile phones dominated and became a popular symbol of the 2000s. Mobile phones were mainly used to call or send text messages and had only the most basic of features, as opposed to the phones of today that are essentially handheld computers. This was the time when popular mobile phone companies such as Siemens, Motorola and Nokia started releasing new phones, hinting at modern technology. 
14. Hip Hop Music
The 2000s was the time when Hip Hop music rose to fame. Hip hop stars with enigmatic personalities started gaining influence. Nelly’s Album ‘Country Grammar’ hit the top of the charts, and Sisqo’s ‘Thong Song’ was a smash hit.
This was the time when Eminem rose to fame as well, with his album being No. 1 in both the US and the UK. This was the decade when Eminem became the most loved or hated figure.
15. Balenciaga Motorcycle Bag
The Balenciaga Motorcycle Bag was the ultimate bag for the 2000s. It was worn by famous celebrities such as Nicky Hilton, Kate Moss, Gisele Bundchen and the like. Initially designed by Nicolas Ghesquiere in 2001, this logoless bag resembled a vintage bag as it was soft and malleable.
The label initially almost nixed the bag, but after some celebrities expressed interest in it, it was distributed amongst some of the fashion world’s elite. Soon it became the most coveted bag and an iconic item of the 2000s.
The 2000s was an iconic decade in many ways. With the advent of the modern smartphone to the rise of Hip Hop and several women empowerment movements, it was a decade to remember.
Which of these popular symbols were you already aware of? Let us know in the comments below!
- “The Paris Hilton Rule: Famous For Being Famous”. Scoreboard Media Group.
- “Britney Spears Is The Highest-Paid Woman in Music For 2012
- Johnson, Kay (28 March 2018). “Nobel winner Malala in tears on emotional return to Pakistan
- Kyle McKinnon (18 January 2013). “Will Malala’s Influence Stretch to Europe?
- “Uma Thurman channels ‘Kill Bill’ character, says Harvey Weinstein doesn’t even “deserve a bullet””. Newsweek. November 24, 2017
- Shu, Catherine. “#YesAllWomen Shows That Misogyny Is Everyone’s Problem”
- “Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund: Three Years and Looking Forward”. National Women’s Law Center. 2021.