The Most Offensive Noughties Movie Makeovers, Ranked

Why were we repeatedly told that women wouldn't find love until they had a makeover?

Noughties movie makeovers

by Jessica Barrett |
Updated on

Was it really a late nineties/early noughties romcom unless the ‘unlikely’ female lead was transformed from an ‘ugly duckling’, into a ‘beautiful swan’ who DID get to go to prom, after all? It became one of the most prevalent, not to mention problematic, romantic comedy tropes of the end of the 20th century and start of the next one -and it’s no wonder that many of us finding our way through our teens in that era were struggling to find an ounce of self confidence.

After all, we were manipulated into seeing Rachael Leigh Cook as a dowdy loser simply because she wore dungarees, and Sandra Bullock as a frumpy, unattractive loner who would never find love because she didn't yet wear body con dresses. Plus, the ‘transformation’ scenes would usually only comprise of the character’s glasses and ponytail being removed in slow motion to reveal that - GASP - there was a beautiful, popular girl in there after all! Isn't that lucky! We were only to see their worth, and their beauty, through the eyes of their potential love interests (and, in Sandra Bullock's case, a beauty pageant judging panel).

Here, we rank these movie makeovers in order of offensiveness.

7. Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls (2004)

Whilst not a traditional makeover movie, Mean Girls deserves an honourable mention. When Cady Heron arrives at North Shore High School fresh from being home schooled in Africa, all plaid shirts and khaki pants, she’s the epitome of wholesome. In order to hang out with The Plastics - Regina, Gretchen and Karen - and sabotage their reign of terror over the high school from the inside (under the instruction of Janis Ian) it’s clear Cady’s going to need a makeover. Cue: highlights, fake tan, tiny t-shirts and pop socks. Oh and perfume that makes her smell like a ‘baby prostitute’ according to Janis.

Whilst this makeover has the ‘desired’ effect in that Cady starts dating the most popular jock in the school and earns her place at The Plastics’ lunch table, at least this film (written by comedy legend Tina Fey) teaches its viewers that it’s not the makeover that matters... just don’t become an asshole with it.

6. Brittany Murphy in Clueless (1995)

My favourite thing about this makeover scene is how little they truly do to make her look ‘ugly’. They literally throw a flannel shirt on her and call it a day, the makeover then being her putting a short skirt on. Once again, these days she’d probably be considered more attractive for her chilled out, baggy look…

5. Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality (2000)

Okay, so this one was about entering a beauty contest and the makeover montage is ICONIC, but did they really need to go that hard on her ‘before’ looks? This is Sandra effing Bullock, the woman could look good covered in hives, yet they act as though this 5ft6 curvaceous dream of a woman is a gremlin just because she has a slight frizz to her hair.

4. Anne Hathaway in Princess Diaries (2001)

Anne Hathaway is the poster child for a noughties movie makeover. Why? Because she had naturally wavy hair and could grow her eyebrows out to be bushy as hell. Honestly, the ‘before’ of Anne Hathaway in most of her iconic teen roles, like Princess Diaries, would probably be considered more attractive now. But alas, everyone felt the need to straighten her hair within an inch of its life, pluck her eyebrows to extinction and apparently, have her live with partial vision in removing her glasses…

3. Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Andrea Sachs is a character who takes great pride in not knowing anything about fashion, so quite how she gets a job at Runway in the first place is already a huge suspension of our disbelief. That aside, quite how quickly she is open to a makeover sequence is vital to the story. Only, Anne Hathaway is quite clearly stunningly beautiful as it is, and a polyester jumper and a satchel don’t do much to detract from that. In the film she’s given a sleek haircut, some red lipstick and a six-figure-wardrobe bursting at the doors with Chanel. Sure she looks great, but then she also did before.

2. The cast of The House Bunny (2008)

‘I want you to show skin in the four major regions: arms, legs, belly and cleavage,’ Anna Faris as, Shelley Darlingson, tells the residents of the Zeta Alpha Zeta sorority house. She’s there to teach the group how to attract men. They are awkward and geeky and only Shelley, a former Playboy Bunny, can help them before it’s too late. Books are pushed off the table and replaced with beauty products (‘the eyes are the nipples of the face’), the girls are taught that flirting would get them everywhere, and their tunics and combat trousers are replaced with mini skirts and hotpants. All of this is wildly problematic and Emma Stone, Rumer Willis and Kat Dennings, along with the other actors who played the sorority sisters, frankly deserved better.

1. Rachel Leigh Cook in She’s All That (1999)

How, oh HOW, could they possibly make Laney Boggs (the name will forever make me lol) pretty? After all she wears those hideous glasses, her hair’s in a ponytail and she wears DUNGAREES! Luckily for Freddie Prinze Jr, who has entered a bet that he can gain the trust of nerdy outcast Laney and turn her into the school's next prom queen, it turns out that Rachael Leigh Cook was absolutely stunning under those glasses! This scene is so farcical it was parodied in spoof film Not Another Teen Movie.

Click through for the best chick flicks on Netflix...


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