As someone who grew up watching A TON of movies, there's nothing like a good makeover montage.
Who doesn't love the classic makeover? As a kid, I couldn't get enough. I loved seeing characters transform through the power of a new hairstyle, lipstick, or outfit. Some of them even gained confidence, which I thought was so cool — the right look really CAN change your life.
I also liked to watch people get ready. Maybe that's why I became a fashion writer.
But as I got older, I started to realize that many of the *reasons* behind these makeovers were pretty screwed up. Many of the characters didn't feel like they needed to change themselves, but were forced to — because why look the way *you* want if a well-meaning friend thinks you could look better?
So here are the most screwed-up makeovers in movie history.
WHEN YOU'RE FORCED TO FIT IN AT SCHOOL: Tai's makeover in "Clueless" changed her in the worst ways.
When Tai arrived at a new high school, queen bees Cher and Dionne decided to "fix" her — turning her into their idea of attractive.
Tai already had a crush on skater Travis Birkenstock, but since he was a "burnout," Cher steered her protege away from him and toward popular dude Elton (who, for the record, was an asshole).
Tai's makeover wasn't even about her — it was all about Cher.
Cher changed Tai not only so she could fit in better with the popular crowd, but also as a distraction from her own problems. When Elton started hitting on Cher, instead of dealing with it she threw Tai at him as a diversion — leaving her new friend heartbroken and Cher stranded in a parking lot.
Tai's makeover also backfired — the student became the master, and she eventually kicked Cher out of her own squad.
In probably the worst character transformation ever, Tai's new look turned her into a tyrannical Queen Bee.
Though Tai and Cher had to fight it out, eventually they both found peace — Tai with her own confidence, style, and crush, and Cher with letting other people be who they are.
Moral of the story: Don't try and change people for personal gain (yes, just like Jane Austen's "Emma").
WHEN YOU'RE FORCED TO BECOME A LITERAL PRINCESS: Mia Thermopolis in "The Princess Diaries" had a roller coaster of a makeover (and life) experience.
OK, finding out you're a princess is pretty cool. However, having to change your appearance to fit what the idea of a princess would look like? Weird message!
When Mia was first introduced she had curly hair, glasses, and wore no makeup. This is movie shorthand for "unattractive" and "awkward."
The film reinforced the idea that big, curly hair couldn't be beautiful (which is totally untrue).
In short succession, Mia discovers that she has a grandmother she's never met, that said grandmother is queen of a European country, and that as a princess, her looks do not measure up. Mia is forced to get a major "princess" makeover, from head to toe.
This transformation became the source of many of Mia's problems throughout the movie. It drove a wedge between her and her best friend, Lilly. Mia started hanging out with the popular crowd over the friends who liked her before she straightened her hair and shaped her brows. This makeover really reinforced the idea that women's friendships revolve around appearances.
And it was only after the OUTER makeover that Mia discovered her INNER beauty — through the attention of a guy, of course.
Yes, she got the guy who thought she was beautiful ALL ALONG. Because are you really pretty if a man doesn't tell you that you are? Sigh.
But who cares about all of that when you have a tiara!
Tiaras beat everything, tbh.
WHEN YOU'RE PART OF A BET: "She's All That" showed how played out the whole school-weirdo-turns-into-a-swan trope is.
This bridge has been crossed many a time in coming-of-age movies.
"Unpopular" girl Laney Boggs was at the center of a bet to be made over into a prom queen. Apparently you can't be into art AND be a prom queen?
Laney was confident and happy at the beginning of this movie — she had her own life and her own interests. So when popular guy Zack Siler suddenly became interested in her, she was skeptical.
After a lot of manipulation by a popular boy determined to change a young woman for his own ends, Laney took off her glasses and became "the hot girl"...
Curled hair? Spaghetti straps?! She was like a whole new human!
... AND ZACK LOST HIS DAMN MIND.
Again: Laney's makeover wasn't her idea. It was something Zack and his sister encouraged so that she could fit in at a party.
In the end, Laney realized that her makeover was total BS — and that Zack's motives had nothing to do with her happiness.
Like people for who they are, everyone!
As the self-proclaimed weirdo, Allison Reynolds served as the opposite of Molly Ringwald's Claire Standish.
Allison was strange and didn't care. She seemed totally happy with her Pixy Stix sandwiches and dandruff games. But because a teen movie can't legally exist without turning the "freak" into a "hot girl," Claire wanted to remake her in her own image.
Although all of the characters changed throughout their detention, Allison was the only one who underwent a physical transformation.
Hair pulled back, black clothing ditched for pastels, "feminine" makeup... Claire transformed Allison into a more palatable, and therefore attractive, character by the film's end. Why she needed a makeover in the first place is a question that remains unanswered.
WHEN YOU'RE TOO SEXUAL: Vivian Ward's transformation in "Pretty Woman" was legendary and emotionally exhausting.
As a sex worker, Ward was immediately characterized as someone who Edward Lewis needed to save.
When Vivian was first introduced, she was unabashedly herself.
From the way she dressed to the way she talked, she was bold. She even showed Edward how to properly drive his car!
Vivian was forced to change when she realized that the upscale shop owners wouldn't treat her equally.
Rather than changing the shop girls' perspectives, the plot is structured so that Vivian must change her appearance to be treated fairly.
Although when she clapped back at the shop girls, it was pretty satisfying.
Even though Vivian's new "fancy lady" wardrobe was fierce, her makeover reinforced the idea that this is how proper women should dress — and if they don't, it's OK for others to treat them badly.
Vivian left her cut-out dresses, short skirts, and thigh-high boots behind in favor of ballgowns and diamonds. Her outfits — and therefore her sexuality — were controlled by Edward. He literally remade her into his "ideal" woman through a makeover.
WHEN YOU'RE TRAPPED IN A PURITAN NIGHTMARE: Reese Witherspoon's character Jennifer in "Pleasantville" apparently couldn't like sex AND like to read.
Yeah, it gets weird.
Jennifer, who traveled to a fictional 1950s town from the present day, was characterized as a hypersexual teenage girl in a town full of innocence.
In the grayscale town, the characters gain color after undergoing a change (oftentimes through a sexual awakening). But Jennifer had already had sex. HER makeover was the reverse "She's All That" — transforming from the hot popular girl into a studious nerd.
WHEN YOUR JOB DEPENDS ON YOUR MAKEOVER: Sandra Bullock's transformation in "Miss Congeniality" was REALLY messed up.
Bullock's character, Gracie Hart, went through a dramatic transformation to foil a terrorist attack.
Like most movie makeovers, the decision to change wasn't her choice.
She was selected by a group of men (creepy) who thought she could pass as a pageant queen after making an animation of her wearing a swimsuit (super creepy).
Her transformation from extremely competent FBI agent into a "real girl" required a glam squad WAREHOUSE.
While it was cool to show that being stage-ready is really hard work, it also really sucked that Gracie's professional achievements were never enough for her male co-workers.
As an undercover agent, Gracie's assignment depended on her ability to pass as a pageant queen.
Last time I checked, it's not exactly normal to have your life depend on your ability to do professional level hair and makeup.
Although she ultimately ended up saving the day, she had to sacrifice a lot in the process.
The film played off of the whole tomboy vs. girly-girl trope. Although ultimately showing that you can be both strong and feminine, it took awhile to get there. They eventually realized she had "inner beauty," and gave her the "Miss Congeniality" award. Nice consolation, I guess.
WHEN YOUR JOB *REALLY* DEPENDS ON YOUR MAKEOVER: Andy Sachs transformed into a fashionista in "The Devil Wears Prada," but not for the best reasons.
Side note — why is Anne Hathaway always forced into a makeover in her movies?
Although Andy was *reasonably* good at her assistant job, it wasn't until she changed her wardrobe that she got any respect.
When she started, Miranda Priestly threw MAJOR shade by telling Andy that she has "no style or sense of fashion," motivating Andy to prove her worth through both her actions AND her physical appearance.
Andy — who is also fat-shamed throughout the film for being a size six — had one of the most iconic makeovers ever in the Runway Magazine fashion closet.
But in order to fit into all of those designer clothes, she had to change from a size six to a size four. Sigh.
It's not until the end of the film that Andy, dripping in couture, realizes her worth is not contingent on looking like a model.
When Andy quits her fashion job and returns to "serious" journalism, she gets rid of all her fashionable clothes and returns to her low-key look. Because of course, you can't be a serious journalist AND be into clothes. I was left very confused.
WHEN YOU'RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH AS A HUMAN WOMAN AND NEED TO BE TURNED INTO A BLONDE SEX ROBOT: The makeover in "The Stepford Wives" remake was DEFINITELY the most screwed up.
When high-strung executive Joanna Eberhart arrived in Stepford, it took her a long time to figure out that something was wrong.
Joanna and her family moved to Stepford after she was dismissed from her job and had a breakdown. You can tell she's unhappy because she has brown hair and wears all black.
Joanna's husband wanted her to become more "Stepford" — which meant more like the 1950s submissive wife stereotypes all around town.
Although Joanna sensed something *might* be wrong in the town, her husband, Walter, was frustrated that she wouldn't just fit in. Her confidence was what needed a makeover, according to Walter — although that was demonstrated through pastels, florals, and blonde hair. Throughout the film, Joanna had to choose between solving the town's weird robot mystery or saving her marriage.
Despite realizing that the wives HAD LITERALLY BEEN MADE INTO WEIRD ROBOTS, Walter waited until THE VERY END of the film to do anything.
When hanging out in the men's club, Walter witnessed a wife being treated like an ATM, but laughed it off. Break up with him, Joanna. He's trash.
Joanna was pressured by her husband to change who she was and how she looked, even though he knew what was really at stake. If this isn't the most screwed up thing ever, I don't know what is.
Once again, it took awhile for Walter to realize his wife didn't need a makeover. Arguably, the wives could've been saved much earlier in the film if Walter wasn't obsessed with changing the woman he (presumably!) loves.
Movie makeovers can be fun, but it shows how women are still viewed as one-dimensional characters who can be totally transformed through their clothing and hair.
In movies, women aren't usually the ones enacting these makeovers — they're usually persuaded to have one to fit a certain "ideal." Oftentimes, at the beginning of the films, the women are satisfied being themselves, and usually it's the person performing the makeover who needs a change. Although makeover montages are fun, audiences deserve a better message than the same old tired baloney. It's 2017. We're sick of this.