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Pre-makeover and post— ...or is it the other way around?

The Subjective Tropes variation of Beautiful All Along. You take your standard Hollywood Homely ugly-duckling, have her lose her glasses, take her hair out of that bun, and throw her in some fashionable clothes. Immediately the love interest begins goggling at the new-found beauty.

But... the audience just doesn't buy it.

Maybe it's because the audience thinks Nerds Are Sexy. Maybe it's because the character has unintentionally traded in her Hot Librarian and Meganekko cred for a blander type of attractiveness. Maybe the girl was a happy quirky non-conformist who, by selling out to society's vision of beauty, proves herself to be a less-interesting Rule-Abiding Rebel. Simply put, she was never all that ugly to begin with.

In any case, the reaction is the same: Why did they change her? I LIKED HER BETTER BEFORE!

Very likely to cause a Family-Unfriendly Aesop concerning standards of beauty. See also: Just the Way You Are, for a similar reaction in-story. Can be a result of Unkempt Beauty.

Examples of Unnecessary Makeover include:


  • The Before and After Pictures in the ads for weight loss products. In many cases, some people have found the "before" pictures to look healthy and desirable, while the "after" pictures look emaciated and unattractive.
  • had some kind of makeover special in collaboration with Out magazine. For one of the guys, he was an average joe in flannel and was reasonably handsome in his "before" pic. Meanwhile, his "after" pic put him in hideously pretentious fashionista clothing and his hair had about five gallons of product in it.

Anime and Manga

  • Kyon tells Yuki that she's cuter without glasses, and a thousand Meganekko fanboys curse his non-name forever. This may have been a factor in the choice of which book to make into a movie...
  • Kaaya in the second season of The Tower of Druaga. It was probably done to help boost her popularity (Fatina and Coopa stole all of the fanartist attention; its kinda unusual amongst anime fandoms for the female lead to be overlooked compared to a side character like Fatina was in the first season), but most people seem to prefer her season 1 look and think that her season 2 look just makes her look older.
    • I think was partly done to play her up as a sexier Femme Fatale after her betrayal. Eventually subverted when she does return to her first outfit at the end.

Comic Books

  • Done in-story to Rahne of the New Mutants in the "New Mutants Summer Special" issue, when the evil forces of consumerism tried to convince her that she needed makeup and a bland nuclear family life to be happy. Not only was the in-story makeup a disaster (looking like it was drawn on by a small child), but the picture they show her in place of a mirror doesn't look as good as her natural short-haired tomboy look.


  • Allison Reynolds, Ally Sheedy's character in The Breakfast Club, has this happen to her. Most people just find her cuter as the "Basket Case", rather than the Barbie doll she gets transformed into.
  • Mia Thermopolis in the movie version of The Princess Diaries. What's so wrong with glasses and frizzy hair? Kevin "Tom Servo himself" Murphy in his A Year At The Movies also notes the Unfortunate Implications that her makeover's main result is to remove most traces of Semitic origin from her face. The makeover is particularly unnecessary given the Broken Aesop that beauty is on the inside. In the sequel, she's given another pointless makeover that serves only to pull her hair back.
    • Though it should be noted that, until the forced reveal of said makeover, Mia tried to hide it as her best friend thought she'd sold out and she was embarrassed to look exactly like the popular girls.
    • It should also be noted that there was a fairly decent in-universe reason for the makeover: her original style, however attractive, was better suited for a high school student than a public figure.
  • Sandy from Grease. The new "improved" version makes her look like a streetwalker! Danny also shows his buddies his newly acquired varsity letter in track, though his makeover is less emphasized.
  • Sandra Bullock's character in Miss Congeniality, although this is unnecessary less because she looked better before and more because she looks exactly the same. However, the makeover was more about getting the tomboyish FBI agent to act like a pageant...scholarship program contestant, since she was already beautiful. But it didn't stop many film critics from gawking at the idea of Sandra Bullock being presented as an "ugly" woman in need of a "glamorous" makeover.
    • In the sequel Grace (playing the "FBI Barbie" as she puts it) tells a little girl she should put her hair up with some accessories, saying "people care about people who care about themselves" and the next time we see the girl she has done just that, but this time Grace takes the clips out and repeats the line, saying "but we don't care about those people" and the girl looks much better.
  • One critic noted that in Just Go with It despite being told constantly that she was ugly, Jennifer Aniston looks exactly the same after her big makeover as she did before.
  • Jean Cocteau intentionally invoked this trope with his take on the fairy tale, 1946's La Belle et La Bête—this Belle is at least slightly disappointed with the Beast's transformation into a conventionally handsome human, and he set things up to make sure the audience would be too. It worked: Greta Garbo left the screening saying, "Give me back my Beast!"
  • In Enchanted, Giselle gets a makeover before going to The Ball, giving her a more "realistic" appearance to contrast with the somewhat silly "fairy-tale princess" look she originally had. Given the plot and themes of the film, this makes perfect sense, and the characters react according to the trope. Unfortunately, the filmmakers put the actress in a rather unflattering dress and gave her an unimpressive hairstyle, completely ruining the intended effect; she was much prettier as a "fantasy princess" than as a "real woman."
    • And then she was sent to a ball that specifically had a fantasy theme...
  • Used intentionally with Cady from Mean Girls who was really cute before she became popular and started wearing way too much make-up. She's trying too hard, and still not making it. Witness scene where she cruises the hall with her new sistahs and stumbles head-first into a garbage can.
  • Combine with Fashion Dissonance for truly tragic makeover in Just One of the Guys, wherein a perfectly normal and nice looking young man is transformed into an horrific Eighties Dude.
  • Rachel Leigh Cook in She's All That.
  • In Earth Girls Are Easy, Geena Davis' character is upset that her fiance is sexually disinterested in her; her best friend decides the answer is a makeover. For someone who looks like Geena Davis.
    • Though the movie is half parody, and the best friend is incredibly ditzy AND thinks being blonde is the key to all happiness (which in this is), it fits. Note, she also encouraged her to stay with the cheating, jerky fiance.
  • Al Pacino's character in The Devil's Advocate convinces Charlize Theron that she needs to give herself a makeover. She ends up giving herself an unflattering Bob Haircut and a brown colour that adds years to her face, resulting in her looking quite unhealthy and disturbed looking though given the plot of the movie, that was probably the point.
  • To some Princess Ann's haircut in Roman Holiday. The haircut? Trendy and fashionable back when the movie was made but not so flattering these days.
    • Likewise the makeover in Sabrina, which consists entirely of a short haircut, as opposed to the cute ponytail that another character claims makes Audrey Hepburn look like a horse.
  • Kristen Stewart's character in The Cake Eaters gets the mother of all Unnecessary Makeovers when her aunt takes her to the hairdressers for the day. She asks for something sexy and new. She goes into the shop as a sweet looking thing with Rapunzel Hair and comes out with the most unflattering shaggy bowl cut imaginable. Her aunt calls it "rock star" while the audience has a decidedly different reaction.
  • Valerie Boyd, the teenager in "The World of Henry Orient" always wore a 19th century style outfit complete with a Victorian England coat (despite it being The Fifties) and a shaggy wild hairstyle that looked boyish yet not unfeminine. But then at the end of the movie she had a complete makeover. Many fans thought she looked more like a generic cutie after, losing the wild, untamed girl look about her.


  • In the X Wing Series, Plourr Illo was a muscular Amazon-type with a shaved head, who sometimes wore a headpiece that looked like an odd hairdo. A few arcs in, she was revealed to be a princess in exile. Her old nanny fussed over her head, bemoaning the long hair she used to have. Plourr and the Rogues went to her homeworld, where Plourr started letting her hair grow - and generally she dressed the same as ever when not in a court function, and she kept her hair short. But although this wasn't a terrible change, there was something about the bald aesthetic. Ah well.

Live Action TV

  • One of TV's most controversial Unnecessary Makeovers occurred in Felicity, when the title character cut off her signature mop of brass-blond curls. This might more accurately be called a Marine Corps Makeover, since she was sheared like a sheep, down to nothing but vacuum tracks. The new hairstyle and accompanying wardrobe change, from sweatery to kicky, mirrored the production team's intent to morph the show into something different, including a jarring change from a moody, introspective opening theme to an upbeat pop-song. All done in the name of ratings, the fan reaction was mixed at best, with many viewers outraged and disappointed.
  • The greatest debate surrounding the Wonder Woman TV show is whether Lynda Carter is hotter as Wonder Woman or Diana Prince. There's really no correct answer here.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000
    • The short "Body Care and Grooming", which featured a disheveled college girl "made over" to show the value of grooming in one's dating life. Crow and Tom Servo held a mock debate in the skit after the short, arguing over whether she looked better neat or "sloppy." They riff on the guy going after the "madeover" girl and saying, "Uh, excuse me, I couldn't help but notice how much you look like everyone else!"

Narrator, disapprovingly: Look at your hair.
Crow: I like her hair!
Narrator: Look at that blouse.
Crow: I'm looking, I'm looking!

    • Inverted in a Rifftrax they did recently for Terrible Truth. The film tries to show how strung out the girl looks after 6 months of heroin abuse, but the riffers actually think she's more attractive after than before.
  • Sometimes people find the women on Survivor to be more attractive while stranded on the island than when they're dolled up for the reunion show (unless they wear Fetish Fuel stuff, that is, like Kelly Wiggelsworth's skin tight strapless leather minidress).
  • Anywhere from a third to a half of all the makeovers on What Not to Wear. Which, apparently, includes everything not worn by Stacy London.
    • Similarly on BBC Three "makeunder" show Snog, Marry, Avoid - most of the contestants start out as underdressed slappers with far too much fake tan, eyeshadow and hair extensions, but every so often someone with an obviously creative, unique taste in fashion and makeup is stripped of all originality for the sake of boring conformity.
  • Elliot's makeover in Scrubs was just, well... unnecessary. She was already a cute blonde Hospital Hottie, and... now she's a Hospital Hottie with more makeup!
    • The extent of the make up was in fact dialed down pretty quickly after the makeover at the beginning of S3, when to some viewers she looked her worst in the entire series (but as the above says, that really is not that much - she was always hot whatever the look). The only real change was that they drew attention to the fact Sarah Chalke is a hottie a lot more thereafter, and they seemed to have realized they didn't need such an unnecessary change to point that out. She kept slightly different looks, but they were never treated as some kind of major change from then on. Because they never had been.
    • Word of God is that this was mandated by NBC because they wanted a sexier female character to market to the young male demographic. There's apparently even an extra on the season 3 DVDs about it.
    • It was lampshaded in the show itself, though: "Do I look like a clown?" "No! You look like a prostitute who caters exclusively to clowns."
  • Rather meta example in that no one (except, in all probability, the producers) was trying to doll Sam Carter up, but we'd ocaisionally see her with long hair and whatever when visiting the future or Another Dimension or whatnot, and every time it happened, it was
  • Mildred Hubble of The Worst Witch gives herself a radical makeover in the first episode of the spin off Weirdsister College that involves cutting off her Girlish Pigtails. The other characters make a big fuss about how much better she looks except she gave herself an extremely frumpy hairstyle that made her look like she was in her 30s. She tidied herself up a bit towards the end of the series but most fans still preferred her with pigtails.
  • In Wizards of Waverly Place, the first and the second season, Alex declares countless times how much she hates high-heels. In the third season, she wears only high-heels.
    • Although, she was younger back then. Plus she doesn't get much taller either. This is not an uncommon occurrence in the lives of teens.
  • In Lost many people preferred Kate's natural, casual and outdoorsy appearance on the island to her made-up, formal and fashionable appearance off of the island in the fourth season.
  • In the 2006 Robin Hood, the character of Djaq is forced to disguise herself as a boy for her own protection, leading her to crop her hair short and wear baggy pants and a cleavage-concealing waistcoat. In the second season, she's much more feminine, has longer (though still short) hair and wears what can only be described as an "outer-bra." Most people preferred her season one appearance.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, late-seasons Willow compared to early-seasons Willow. In this case, her change in style may have had less to do with becoming more pretty (she already was) than with illustrating her character development.
    • Or wardrobe just gradually forgot they were supposed to be doing anything different shopping for her clothes specifically. It happens.
  • Rachel's makeover in Glee is acknowledged as one of these in-show, when Finn eventually tells her "I'm gonna say this as nice as I can, but you look like a... sad clown hooker".
  • Deconstructed in one Hannah Montana episode where Miley convinces Lily to change her tomboy image and look/act more "girly" to attract her latest crush, only to find out that the boy actually liked tomboy Lily better.
    • This is also done in iCarly with Sam. The boy likes Sam's new look, but reveals that he likes her neutral look even more.
  • This is exactly the intended effect in a Twilight Zone episode, "Number 12 Looks Just Like You", where everyone is required to get cosmetic surgery to make them look like identical models. One Hollywood Homely gamine, perhaps tomboyish for the day, shocks everyone and is sent to a psychiatrist when she questions whether the surgery is really necessary. They end up performing the surgery against her wishes - and she ends up very happy with the results.
    • She also invokes it earlier, when she looks at a picture of her pre-surgery mother and thinks that she looked better that way. The mother, meanwhile, insists that she was "a fright" back then.
  • In one episode of Jake 2.0, Diane gets this treatment.
  • Crossing over with Real Life, Margaret Houlihan went from natural Hospital Hottie to having her hair done in a fried perm, her lips bloated, a fake tan and lashings of eyeliner that stretched Willing Suspension of Disbelief massively. One wonders if viewers even liked it at the time, let alone now.
  • In That '70s Show, Donna gets an Unnecessary Makeover when she dyes her hair blonde for... Really no good reason at all other than the fact that Jackie thinks that her red hair looks ugly.
    • Actually, this was because Laura Prepon chose to blondify herself, and so the explanation for her character had to be essentially a Hand Wave.
  • In an episode of The Mentalist, Cho needed to go undercover and pick up a woman. For a sexy guy like Cho, this shouldn't be a problem, but for some reason they thought he needed a makeover first. It just ended up making him look like a sleaze.
  • Oh my god, 10 Things I Hate About You. In an early episode, Bianca convinces her (already cute) sister Kat to get dressed up for prom. She gives her some pearls, a little black dress, a little make up, puts her hair up in a bun. And she. Looks. '...Horrible.' The bun draws attention to her square jaw, the dress basically attacks her figure, and yet even the non-conformist bad boy love interest thinks she looks beautiful.
  • Hilariously lampooned on Monty Python's Flying Circus where possibly-omnipotent alien Mister Neutron (Graham Chapman) falls in love with Mrs. S-C-U-M (Terry Jones) and uses his powers to turn her into 'the most beautiful woman in the world' - which means Terry Jones in frumpy women's clothing morphs into Terry Jones in marginally less frumpy women's clothing.
  • Early in A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner!, a rather generically attractive young woman rides up and announces that she's Tootie. Timmy and his godparents have a brief flashback to when she was a bespectacled, pigtailed daily annoyance in Timmy's life. The idea is She's All Grown Up. The vast majority of fans prefer how she looks in the flashback.

Video Games

  • Male example would be Otacon switching his glasses for contacts in Metal Gear Solid 4, because it makes him look "more handsome". General consensus was relief when he put his glasses back on and started looking sexy and sophisticated again instead of mildly dorky.
  • Xenosaga 2's new 'realistic' character models were so reviled by the fans, that the new, new characters in Xenosaga 3 were much closer to the first game (though not the same).
  • Lady of the Devil May Cry series was changed from an appropriately moody teenager with a slight tomboyish Catholic Schoolgirl moe (due to purple spandex shorts and her 'skirt' being made of ammo for her guns) to... just another busty woman with Absolute Cleavage and flawless skin, having her dress less modestly than Trish. A lack of a role in the fourth game didn't help either.
  • The Cinematic Mod for Half-Life 2 gave the old Source engine a serious kick in the pants, allowing for far more beautiful environments. While these were applauded, fans everywhere raged at the inclusion of the author's version of Alyx Vance. The mod replaces Alyx's down-to-earth, realistic appearance with a new model based on real-life supermodel Adriana Lima, wearing a midriff-baring shirt and exposing her cleavage. Later versions removed her bra, showing Alyx's nipples through her shirt. Many Half-Life 2 fans revolted at the changes, because the entire reason she was popular was because she wasn't an overly sexualized pinup girl like every other woman in gaming.
  • The Sims games act as a storytelling medium as well as a video game. Anyone can send stories to the official website accompanied by images from the game. Many, many of these stories consist of sims getting makeovers. Some are fine; a lot are unnecessary. A lot of them feature Maxis sims being redesigned so as to lose their distinctive quirky apperances. A particularly bad story featured only two or three images: A before shot of Gothically-dressed Lilith Pleasant, and an after shot of her dressed in generic preppy clothing. Based on the outfit change alone, the narrator told us we were supposed to believe that all her family problems went away, too.
  • Hawke's Love Interest in Dragon Age 2 gets a costume switch immediately after their Relationship Upgrade, in most cases a pretty minor alteration. Merrill gets a complete change from her grey and green clothes to a strange white and silver costume that not only ditches the Scarf of Asskicking but doesn't interact with the character model correctly to the point that her neck overlaps the high collar when she's moving her head around.
    • Actually semi-justified. Merrill lived in utter squalour before she moves in with Hawke, with next to no possessions of her own and its stands to reason that Hawke simply wanted to give her something special. Its also much more armoured than her older clothes, which given the sheer number of dangerous things they encounter on a regular basis and the fact that Merrill frequently wanders down dark alleys, can you honestly blame Hawke for being concerned for their lovers safety?
    • Its also worth nothing that Hawke is mentioned in-universe as having taken a lot of flak from the local nobility for openly being in a relationship with an elf. Her outfit is both practical, unique finery that honestly wouldn't look out of place at one of the noble parties that Hawke is mentioned as being frequently invited too. With Merrill on their arm, in that outfit, it could be basically their way of saying, "We're together. Get used to it".
  • It's a plot point twist where we discover who Princess Zelda is and not a proper makeover so it serves as more of a visual cue than an intentional makeover, and for that reason wouldn't be this except that the in-game reaction in The Wind Waker is that Tetra is much prettier as Zelda. Many feel she looked better as Tetra the pirate girl. It's more the in-game reaction that evokes this trope, because it's not meant to be an actual makeover, but merely a revelation. But then again, there was no need to have her clothes change from her cute pirate outfit to a typical Princess Zelda dress since only the identity was revealed, but I guess a text revelation isn't as dramatic.
  • Some would say Ashley's new look in Mass Effect 3 is this. Her Prim and Proper Bun in the first two games is a much more practical hairstyle for her vocation, and more flattering to her face shape than the new Peek-a-Bangs.

Web Comics

  • Danny of Roomies! shouts at his TV about this here.
    • Thankfully, Joe's prophecy appears to be coming true these days.
  • Made into an entire story arc in Girls with Slingshots after Clarice questions Maureen's sex appeal. Maureen reads US Magazine, gives herself a makeover, and starts trying to be aggressive, which upsets her boyfriend and her platonic friends until she reverts to being Maureen.

Web Originals

  • In The Nostalgia Chick's video on Grease, she has a "makeover fairy" drop by to give her BFF Nella a makeover. Boy, does it not work. Most of the comments on the video said either "There's nothing wrong with Nella!" or "How could you be so nasty to her?"[1]
    • The makeover fairy makes another appearance in the Hercules episode, when she takes advantage of Nella and the Chick being trashed and unconscious to apply lipstick and make them "so pretty!"
    • Her appearance in the Jem and The Holograms episode sends the girls into the "height" of 80s fashion. Oh, yeah, they look as ridiculous as that sounds.
    • When she appears in the Grease 2 review, she attempts to makeover Todd in the Shadows. She fails miserably. Honestly, her entire shtick as a recurring character is failing miserably at makeovers.

Western Animation

  • In the Futurama episode "The Cyber House Rules", Leela has surgery to replace her one eye with two. Fry (and some fans) liked her better before the surgery. Leela eventually decides to have surgery to revert the change. (Hey, Status Quo Is God.)
    • The episode, however, was worth it for the line where Leela gives an ultimatum to her plastic surgeon boyfriend: "Listen, buddy. By the end of the day, one of us is gonna have one eye!"
    • It also gives a rather nice moral about conforming one's appearance. Leela spends the entire episode celebrating that she's average and just like everyone else, but ultimately realizes that being different was who she was. Notice that Fry is the one who supports that, while the plastic surgeon boyfriend ultimately is too narrow-minded to do anything that fits outside of the norm, to the point at which he wants to perform plastic surgery on a child so she looks more normal and thus fit for adoption.
  • Joan of Arc goes through several rather horrendous makeovers in the two-part finale of Clone High before finally getting to one that's...not really an improvement. And Gandhi as a prep?
    • The entire episode was made as a satire of this trope. There are no less than six makeovers, maybe more.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Gwen Stacy, who looked rather like a teenaged Debora Whitman (although this continuity's Debora underwent a Race Lift. It's complicated), had a makeover for a Valentine's Day outing. The glasses went, the hair was loose and longer, and she kept the headband, making her look... like comics!Gwen Stacy, however it also makes her look a lot like a Blonde MJ and most fans preferred her geeky look. She kept the look in subsequent episodes.
  • Parodied in Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy VI from SpongeBob SquarePants. Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy, who were fairly average-looking for the SpongeBob universe, come out of the makeup trailer as horrible, stapled, rubber-banded monstrosities.
  • A similar deconstruction to the Hannah Montana example above pops up in an episode of The Weekenders where two Valley Girls decide to give Tomboy Lor a makeover when they hear a guy likes her. Her friends are creeped out by it since she looks identical to the two of them and at the end the boy states he prefers Lor as a Tomboy.

Real Life

  • Jennifer Grey owed her movie role success in part to her big nose which made her a more convincing Hollywood Homely appearance. Unfortunately, she chose to have a rhinoplasty that went so sour she required a second rhinoplasty and reconstructive surgery to repair the damage to her face. Most people agree that she looked much better before all the surgery - it would appear that she agrees. In her words, "I went in the operating room a celebrity - and come out anonymous."
    • In fact, her decision is given a nod bigger than the old nose in the short-lived It's Like, You Know... where she plays...herself, out of work because she got a nosejob.
    • Whether or not she was more attractive with the bigger nose, she didn't look like Jennifer Grey anymore with the smaller one, hence the "anonymous" quote. It was like trying to start her career over from scratch.
  • By contrast, Barbra Streisand has always known that while she has a huge nose, getting it altered would ruin her, so no scalpel is ever going to touch it. Most singers tend to leave their noses alone because altering the nose also alters the tone of the voice.
  • It's almost a rite of passage to go through these at various points in life to "conform" to what is normal for your age group, sex and position. These usually common times are when starting High School (conforming to your peers), when starting College or University (once again to your peers), when becoming an "adult" and starting in the world or work (back to conforming as power dressed professional or worker drone), and retirement (old people clothes). Again someone going through one of these makeovers will usually get praised by almost everyone as looking so much more "grown up" "mature" or in the right circumstances "handsome/attractive", yet leave others (especially those resisting the changes themselves) thinking they looked better before.
  • Many female teen recording artists have this at the end of the Jail Bait Wait. They abandon their earlier "teen" persona for something more "grown up". This usually translates to "more slutty". It's hard to pin down if this phenomenon is Executive Meddling to show the audience that she's finally an adult and allow the guy fanbase (which is already sizeable, but quiet for fear of being branded a pervert) to pay attention to her, or if the artist was tiring of playing goody two-shoes so the parents in her fandom believe she is a good role model for their daughters. Sometimes the male fanbase prefers the girl next door.
    • Hilary Duff was an exception to this, still remaining goody two shoes to this day in the public eye.
  • When Shakira first broke into the English language market, she decided to bleach her dark brown hair blond, leading almost everyone to ask "Was that really necessary?"
  • Mariah Carey fans have long been divided on whether she looked better before or after her plastic surgery. And that's before you delve into the "But Not Too Black" implications.
  • WWE Diva Aksana made the unwise decision to go from blonde to brunette [dead link].
  • In the 14th season of Dancing With the Stars, Martina Navratilova going from a somewhat butch appearance to looking like a middle-aged Hello, Nurse! entered this trope for some of her fans. Just look.
  • Unfortunately, many female Alphabet News Network anchors invert this trope: a makeover really is necessary to prevent younger, hipper and and more beautiful (who cares about experience when it comes to reporting anyway) versions to take over. eg. Katy Kay before and after.
  1. That Nella was in on the gag and wrote the script was lost on most.