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Image / Beauty

Why I love a good movie makeover (in spite of their obvious problems)


by Aisling Keenan
06th Sep 2019
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Problematic, yes. Fun? Absolutely. Why is it that we love a good movie transformation? I picked apart some of the best ones to find out.


If we were to believe movie world, all it takes is from John Frieda Frizz Ease and a set of contact lenses to go from zero to hero. There are so many problems with them that it doesn’t bear thinking about, and what it must have done to us as young kids thinking, “all I need to do is find a man with lots of money/skills/access to Vogue’s wardrobe department and I’ll be able to succeed at this thing called life!”

Movie makeovers definitely gave me the impression that beauty could fix everything, and here I am, writing about beauty for a living. What that says about me I’d rather not delve into. Anyway, on with the problematic but absolutely entertaining list.

Special mentions to Tai in Clueless, Mrs Doubtfire (!) and Working Girl who also got some votes, but not enough to make the cut.

Sandy in Grease

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The original and arguably the best, watching Sandy go from wholesome and pure, scared and unsure (!) to ‘tell me about it, STUD’ is nothing short of exhilarating. Truly. No matter how many times I watch it, I still get chills that, of course, multiply.

Who can blame Danny for turning to mush, the woman is wearing black lycra trousers she had to be sewn into! Of course, it sends the message that you have to change yourself to win a man’s approval. See? Every movie makeover has its problems!

Gracie Hart in Miss Congeniality

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I mean, come on people. They hired an actual AIRPORT HANGAR to transform Sandra Bullock. Sandra Bullock, one of the most beautiful women in the world. It’s insane, all she needed was a good glycolic face wash and a ghd and she’d have been fine.

It’s still exceptionally satisfying, however, to see her emerge from said airport hangar in that painted on lavender dress and deliver the immaculate “I am in a dress, I have gel in my hair, I haven’t slept all night, I’m starved, AND I’m armed. Don’t mess with me,” line, and then fall over.

Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries

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While I personally wasn’t a fan of this makeover (I think I was too old for the Princess Diaries obsession) and I take serious offence at the “take her glasses off and she’ll be beautiful” narrative – again, acknowledging that all of these movie makeovers have their issues – Anne Hathaway does become a literal princess before our eyes, fulfilling the fantasy of little girls everywhere as they read Disney stories and picture their tiara being placed on their head.

Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman

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I think this one got the most votes when I posed the question on Instagram – people LOVED seeing Vivian Ward go from troubled sex worker to, well, a sex worker in really great clothes. The iconic “you work on commission, right?” scene will forever be etched into my memory, alongside the trying-on-clothes montage.

Granted, once again, Vivian’s personal style is called into question by Richard Gere’s character who literally pays her to change. But look, haven’t we all needed to give a makeover to our date for the polo at some point in our lives? No?

Andy Sachs in The Devil Wears Prada

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Before I begin, it’s worth noting here that there is a staggering and frankly worrying amount of body shaming in this film (constant references to size by Stanley Tucci’s character, a thinly-veiled eating disorder in Emily Blunt’s character). Aside from that most problematic feature, they just love giving Anne Hathaway a movie makeover, don’t they? This is her second on this list and arguably her best – granted, Mia Thermopolis becomes a princess, but Andy Sachs transforms into something we could actually potentially identify with.

A very, very stylish woman who yes, is wearing the Chanel boots. Swoon. And to get the nod from Anna Wi- I mean, Miranda Priestly, is there a higher honour?


Read more: Top teenage romance movies to watch even when you’re in your twenties

Read more: 6 movies that will change the way you look at life

Read more: How to give your home a wellness makeover (without spending a fortune)

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