THE MAKEOVER MOVIE

I feel very conflicted about the idea of the makeover movie. I have nothing against people wanting to change their appearance. However, when it comes to movie characters, I wonder about the reasons that seem to inspire the need to make drastic physical changes…

It is obviously problematic if the sole reason for the makeover is to attract/please/maintain a relationship with another person. If the status of a relationship is so dependent on something as shallow as physical appearance, was the relationship truly worth having in the first place?

However, although motives which mainly seem to do with the person’s own confidence may initially seem healthier and more self-assured, why is it that our confidence is shown to rely so much upon the way we look? Why is it that a change in appearance is termed to be an “improvement”? Is it really the change in physical characteristics that is making the difference to a character’s life, or is it the confidence that always seems to go along with such changes that is making the real “improvement”? Based on messages from such movies, this confidence or “betterment” really seems to be based upon achieving greater societal acceptance, based on a collective impersonal idea of what is beautiful, and therefore, deserving of something more.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many makeover movies I love and have fun watching. Still, I can’t help the nagging thoughts that go along with watching them. I’m not thrilled by the fact that a significant change in a movie character’s life so often must be instigated by a physical makeover.

A by-no-means exhaustive list of makeover movies (and basic facts about the makeovers involved in them) in chronological order:

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GREASE (1978)

WHO: female lead

WHAT: clothing, hair, makeup

WHEN: makeover happens at the very end

WHY: to better fit into her boyfriend’s “world”

 

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THE BREAKFAST CLUB (1985)

WHO: one of the female leads

WHAT: clothing, hair, makeup

WHEN: makeover happens at the very end

WHY: the motive is not totally clear; the end result is that she receives romantic attention from a guy, who – up until the makeover – had shown no romantic interest in her, nor she in him

 

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MOONSTRUCK (1987)

WHO: female lead

WHAT: clothing, hair, makeup

WHEN: makeover happens approximately halfway through the movie

WHY: to prepare for a night at the opera with a potential romantic partner

 

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THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES (1996)

WHO: female lead

WHAT: body, clothing, hair, makeup

WHEN: makeover happens towards the very end

WHY: fed up with not being considered physically attractive, she decides to work-out and change other aspects of her physical appearance while her husband is away on an extended trip

 

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MISS CONGENIALITY (2000)

WHO: female lead

WHAT: clothing, hair, makeup

WHEN: makeover happens very early in the movie

WHY: for her job; going undercover at a national beauty pageant; the end result includes receiving romantic attention from a guy, who – up until the makeover – had shown no romantic interest in her, nor she in him

 

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THE PRINCESS DIARIES (2001)

WHO: female lead

WHAT: glasses, hair, makeup

WHEN: makeover happens early in the movie

WHY: once again, the motive isn’t totally clear – possibly to better fulfill her role as would-be princess; one result includes receiving romantic attention from a guy, who – up until the makeover – had shown no romantic interest in her; the end result involves the female lead ultimately becoming romantically interested in a different guy, who was always romantically interested in her

 

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MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING (2002)

WHO: female lead

WHAT: glasses, clothing, hair, makeup

WHEN: makeover happens very early in the movie

WHY: to look less “old” (in the words of her father), and possibly to have better prospects for marriage than the men to which her parents introduce her

 

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THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA (2006)

WHO: female lead

WHAT: clothing, hair, makeup

WHEN: the only movie on this list in which – as far as the audience knows – the full makeover doesn’t (permanently) take

WHY: for her job and the sake of gaining her boss’s “good” graces

 

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CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE. (2011)

WHO: one of the male leads

WHAT: clothing

WHEN: makeover happens approximately halfway through the movie

WHY: to have better chances at picking up women

 

 

What are your thoughts on the makeover movie?