It pretty much goes without saying that to be a woman/femme actress in Hollywood, you have to be relatively conventionally attractive. While there might be some exceptions to this rule, and while everyone obviously isn’t attracted to the same things, there’s some kind of intangible marker of beauty in our society that most of us accept. You might not personally go gaga over Jennifer Lawrence, Naya Rivera, or Lupita Nyong’o, but you would have to be a contrarian a-hole to deny the fact that they’re considered beautiful women in this day and age. And because beauty sells–especially women’s beauty because, haha, sexism–it’s advantageous for the entertainment industry to cast conventionally attractive women in a TV show or movie…which is why it’s so hilariously absurd when they try to convince us that an actress is some kind of ugly garbage troll in a given role.
This is what TV Tropes refers to as Hollywood Homely, when a TV show or movie casts these conventionally attractive starlets as characters who are meant to be plain, unattractive, or straight up ugly. It’s so prevalent–especially in teen movies and TV shows–that it’s easy to almost forget how ridiculous it is that we’re supposed to find these characters unappealing until they get some kind of life altering makeover. Who would have known that Anne Hathaway’s Mia Thermapolis in The Princess Diaries was actually pretty until she took off her glasses, am I right? Pfft, yeah, sure. Anyway, here’s a roundup of nine of the most ridiculous times movies and TV shows tried to convince us that a celeb was ugly.
Mia In 'The Princess Diaries'I love The Princess Diaries, but come on...all Mia did was straighten her hair, rock some contacts, and pluck a few eyebrow hairs. She might not have had the exact style that made someone a hottie in the early 2000s, but the way that the movie made her out to be some kind of hideous troll was a joke. At the end of the day, this was just Anne Hathaway with thick brows...which is still really damn pretty.
Hermione In The 'Harry Potter' MoviesOkay, this is pretty controversial but it has been the subject of much debate among Harry Potter fans since Prisoner of Azkaban came out in 2004: Was Emma Watson's Hermione Granger just too hot to be Hermione? If you ask me, it's less a matter of if a pretty girl like Emma was too pretty and more of a matter of how she was depicted in the films. In the books, Hermione isn't described as particularly beautiful. It's implied that she cleans up nicely and is certainly pretty enough, but otherwise isn't anything to call home about. Now, it's ridiculous to call foul on the casting directors or Emma Watson for the fact that Emma happened to grow up to be a pretty young woman. That's absurd. But from Prisoner of Azkaban to Deathly Hallows Part II, it's clear that the movies definitely didn't bother trying to make Hermione's not-so-classically-beautiful features--like her massive, bushy hair--much of a fixture. Hermione's hair in the movies has little more than a bit of volume, and Hermione's classic buck teeth are nowhere to be found in any of the films. Even with all of those features thrown in, Emma Watson's Hermione would likely be very pretty, which is fine! But it's clear that a plain Hermione just wasn't meant to be in the minds of the costume designers.
Needy In 'Jennifer's Body'Amanda Seyfried as Needy (nickname for Anita) in Jennifer's Body is another victim of the notion that a pair of glasses can turn even the most striking people into dull looking. Except, once again, that didn't work...because no matter how many tight pony tails or pairs of glasses you throw at the woman, Amanda Seyfried is always going to look conventionally attractive, period.
Laney In 'She's All That'Ah, the quintessential example of how ridiculous Hollywood Homely truly is. Laney (Rachel Leigh Cook) is a geeky art freak who is the subject of a bet between Zack, a smart, popular Jock, and his douchebag friend, Dean. Zack asserts that he could turn any girl in the school into Prom Queen, and when Dean decides that Zack must transform Laney, Zack is cowed, but up for the task. Wow, if only he knew from the jump that all Laney had to do was take off her glasses and rock a spaghetti strap dress to be a regulation hottie! Because...that's literally all it took. She just...took off her glasses and wore a dress, and everyone was suddenly sprung. Wow, who would have thought! What was most ridiculous though was that even in her geeky attire, Laney still looked hot...because she was played by effing Rachel Leigh Cook. Wow, it's almost as if wearing glasses doesn't automatically make someone ugly.
Elizabeth In 'Pride And Prejudice'Elizabeth Bennet is meant to be one of the plainer sisters of Jane Austen's classic, Pride and Prejudice. To emphasize this point, a-hole extraordinaire, Mr, Darcy, goes as far as to say that Elizabeth is "tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me" in its 2005 movie adaptation. In other words, she's not hot enough for me. He could have just been being a jerk--which he was really good at--but regardless...he was talking about a woman played by Keira Knightley. Keira effing Knightley, inarguably one of the most beautiful women who has graced this hellhole we call earth. Excuse me while I laugh myself to death.
Tai In 'Clueless'Tai (the late, great Brittany Murphy) just had to throw on a plaid miniskirt and a tight sweater to become an absolute babe in Clueless, but if we're being real, she was cute as a button before her makeover. The only things that really made her the target of mockery were her flannel and baggy pants...which 90 percent of people wore in 1995. My girl Tai was cute from beginning to end, anyone with eyes can see it!
Peggy In 'Mad Men'Anyone who has watched Mad Men knows that, from the jump, Peggy was depicted as frumpy AF. Sure, she didn't have knock out curves like Joan or an ice queen glamour like Betty, but she was still perfectly pretty, not some kind of ugly duckling. The show seemed to let up on that trope as her character developed and she became more confident, but it was still a little absurd that it lasted for as long as it did.
Betty In 'Ugly Betty'Okay, so the costume designers for Ugly Betty admittedly did a pretty good job with making Betty look like a geeky teenager. Those braces? Next level. But while this is one of the more believable examples of Hollywood Homely, you could still see how a pair of Invisaligns and some chill could easily out Betty as someone who is actually just a really pretty woman who just happens to wear glasses.
Andie From 'Pretty In Pink'Molly Ringwald was the queen of teen movies in the '80s, and in a couple of her most iconic roles--like Sixteen Candles and Pretty In Pink--viewers are led to believe that her characters' beauty is an acquired taste, which is preposterous. This definitely stands out in Pretty In Pink, where Andie's looks are trashed by the popular girls and guys. Yeah, her clothes are definitely thrift store chic, but that doesn't make her ugly in the slightest! What's most ridiculous is when Blane--her crush/admirer/boyfriend-type-thing (it's complicated)--is seen with her, his friend Stef roasts the hell out of him and calls Andie "trash." Maybe he trashed her looks because he was acting out on his jealousy/secret crush, but still...nobody with sense was buying it.
What other characters from movies and TV shows should be on this list? Tell us in the comments!