14 Movies With The Classic Girl-Removes-Glasses-&-Is-Suddenly-Beautiful Moment

Photos: Courtesy of Miramax Films.
You know how it goes: Boy meets girl, girl wears glasses, boy inspires girl to take off glasses, and true love conquers all. Or something along those lines.

The truth is, we’ve seen more than our fair share of makeover movies — or more specifically, movies where the complete redoing of a woman sparks an (arguably unworthy) man’s interest. Some are well-intentioned, others are satirical, and a few are downright upsetting. But despite the controversy surrounding this theme, these types of films have spanned decades, and continue to root themselves in our pop culture landscape. Speaking of which, TV titan Ryan Murphy took on the trope on in Tuesday night's Scream Queens — witness Hester's (Lea Michele) magical transformation.

So here’s our roundup of 14 movies, including one in which a young woman is suddenly beautiful because she takes off her falafel hat. Or, if she’s a secondary character, she finds true love after finding eyeliner. Click ahead for more savory tales.

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Grease (1978)

For a hot second, it seemed like for once, the boy (Danny Zuko, played by John Travolta) would be the one to change himself to get the girl. But alas, our dreams were dashed upon the reveal of Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) who, in the film’s closing scene, dons (extremely anachronistic) spandex, leather, and permed hair to prove just how much she’s willing to do for a T-Bird. (You know: the kind of guy who sings a song that implies he had sex with her over the summer, while his friends joke about date rape.) I mean, arguably, Danny does think Sandy is pretty throughout the whole film, but it isn't until she adapts to his social (and style) norms that they fly off in the car together. That letterman sweater he wears in his weak attempt to go clean-cut never stood a chance.
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The Breakfast Club (1985)

After spending all day in detention together, it still took a makeover from Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald) to make Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy) worthy of Andrew Clark’s (Emilio Estevez) gaze. Which is especially disappointing since Allison’s flair for black, baggy clothing — and killer eyeliner — was way cooler than the pink ensemble of Claire's making. I mean, a headband? That flower? Where did those pieces come from? And more importantly: Why?
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Teen Witch (1989)

It’s a tale as old as time: “nerdy” girl Louise (Robyn Lively) finds out she’s a witch, comes into her powers on her 16th birthday, and then uses her powers to make herself popular and beautiful. Which of course means that the object of her affection, Brad (Dan Gauthier), finally begins to notice her. Unfortunately, her plan goes awry, and she eventually realizes she didn’t do anything to “earn” Brad’s love.
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A League Of Their Own (1992)

For the record, Marla’s was a makeover under duress. After being informed that “every one of [them] is going to learn to be a lady,” the women of the AAGPBL find themselves at charm and beauty school, where women like Marla Hooch (Megan Cavanagh) are told how they need to change. So while every player ends up with new-and-improved hair, Marla finds herself in era-appropriate curls and makeup. Then, at a roadhouse called the Suds Bucket, she meets a man who recognizes her true beauty, even when she’s drunkenly singing onstage. We have no way of knowing for sure, but we like to assume they would’ve hit it off regardless of her makeover. Why? Because Marla hit like DiMaggio, and that’s what matters most.
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Never Been Kissed (1999)

In a surprise twist, a romantic relationship has nothing to do with the post-makeover world of Never Been Kissed. When Josie “Grossie” Geller (Drew Barrymore) takes on an undercover assignment that grants her access to the crème de la crème of high school cliques, she draws the attention of her English teacher, Sam Coulson (Michael Vartan), who’s enamored with her from the very beginning. However, it takes the charm and popularity of Josie’s older brother (played by David Arquette) to grant her admission to the school’s upper echelons. She begins to earn second glances from Guy Perkins (Jeremy Jordan), who’s like, a total babe, and can’t help but notice her new-and-improved wardrobe. Of course, she’s eventually exposed as a fraud, and nearly loses her job and Sam as a result — but by the end, even the cool kids realize there’s more to life than popularity once Josie completes her final assignment. (And Sam really couldn’t care less about how she dresses.)
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She’s All That (1999)

Behold: Our generation’s Pretty Woman, My Fair Lady, or Pygmalion. Convinced that he can make even the most “unattractive” girl prom queen, Zack Siler (Freddie Prinze Jr.) makes a bet with his friend-slash-nemesis (Paul Walker) that within a few weeks, art nerd Laney Boggs (Rachael Leigh Cook) will sit atop the popularity pyramid. So, despite seeing her with new eyes at a performance art show (in which he also performs an unforgettable Hacky Sack), Zack only realizes Ms. Boggs’ potential after his sister works her makeover magic, and hooks Laney up with a red party dress and platform sandals. The bad news? Laney never does become prom queen. The good? Zack realizes his friends are terrible and apologizes to Laney for being the worst. (Although it’s concerning to know that he failed to accept the majority of his university offers. Where did Zack end up, you guys?)
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Princess Diaries (2001)

When awkward teen Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) learns that she’s Genovia royalty, girlfriend undergoes a makeover unlike the movie world has ever seen. Trading her Roseanne Roseannadanna hair for, well, normal Hathaway locks, she transforms from a regular person into a princess — and at one point ditches her best friends Lilly (Heather Matarazzo) and Michael (Robert Schwartzman) for a beach party with the cool Josh Bryant (Erik von Detten). Naturally, Josh turns out to be a snake who uses Mia for fame, and he only appreciates her post-makeover. Which is why it’s kind of great that after all is said and done, Mia ditches Josh and hooks up with Michael — who’s had a crush on her forever — and who she admits “saw her when she was invisible.” (Not that she ever was, though, come on.)
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Not Another Teen Movie (2001)

Praise the satirical gods, sometimes we get to laugh at the “glasses off” reveal. To wit: Not Another Teen Movie, in which we see the geeky Janey Briggs (Chyler Leigh) undergo a She’s All That-esque overhaul courtesy of Catherine Wyler (Mia Kirshner). This makeover is a little more risqué, and at one point involves a sack with two eye holes cut out. Also, watch out for those stairs, girl!
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A Walk To Remember (2002)

It’s outrageous to tell anyone not to fall in love with you, but it seemed even more so when theatre enthusiast and minister’s daughter Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore) says it to high school classmate and resident bad boy, Landon Carter (Shane West) — upon their first meeting. So of course, he totally does. But only after they begin spending inordinate amounts of time together rehearsing for the school play — and when he sees her defend a bullied kid. The big reveal is less about Jamie appearing in her glam theatre makeup, and more about Landon realizing he’s super into kind girls or women who can predict the future. Despite, you know, having ignored Jamie since kindergarten.
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A Cinderella Story (2004)

Behold: the movie equivalent of yelling “Really?!” at the moon. After seeing Sam Montgomery (Hilary Duff) day in and day out at her restaurant job, Austin (Chad Michael Murray) doesn’t realize how beautiful, wonderful, and interesting she is until their paths cross at a masked ball, and she slips away without him recognizing her identity. Eventually, he realizes he can love both Sam and this mysterious masked person because they are — gasp! — one and the same!
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The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Okay, fine: Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) wouldn’t have met author and playboy Christian Thompson (Simon Baker) if she hadn’t undergone her Runway-funded makeover to begin with (because she probably would’ve been fired). So instead, her better hair and clothing transition is less about the fling she has near the end of the movie, and more about how her boyfriend Nate (Adrian Grenier) couldn’t handle it. “I liked the old clothes,” he pouts at one point, making Andy feel guilty for being alive. This, of course, leads to the end of their relationship: she goes to Paris, he stays in New York, and the two only seem to reconcile when she abandons her couture lifestyle for a turtleneck and ponytail, and maybe a job in whatever city he chooses to work in. Whatever, Nate.
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She’s The Man (2006)

She’s The Man is a movie we could spend hours unpacking (and I will, if any of you ever want to do that). Why? Because upon meeting Viola-disguised-as-her-brother-Sebastian (Amanda Bynes), Duke (Channing Tatum) is super into him. They play soccer together, study together, and at one point, they nearly kiss when trying to evade a spider named Malvolio. Of course, Duke never admits how he actually feels, and instead exudes sweet relief when discovering that Sebastian has a sister — and then even more relief when he realizes that the person he was falling for was a girl the whole time. So the lesson? Gender isn’t the same as sexuality! Sexuality is fluid! Heteronormativity in teen films!
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Baby Mama (2008)

All right, fine. By transitioning from J. Crew to clubwear for an evening, super-Type A Kate (Tina Fey) is merely being a good friend to Angie (Amy Poehler), who — spoiler alert — fakes a pregnancy with the hopes of getting surrogate money. And sure, after hitting the bar, the two ladies run into Kate’s love interest, Rob (Greg Kinnear), who isn’t at all upset by Kate’s riskier get-up. But considering the two liked each other before and after that moment, we can only chalk up any added interest to an appreciation for Kate’s modern hair. Also: Fey’s ability to wear pleather bra straps.
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The DUFF (2015)

The DUFF is kind of progressive for a teen film — especially since its heroine, Bianca (Mae Whitman) realizes the best person she can be is herself. However, there are still moments of and-the-glasses-come-off. When taken under the wing of rival Wesley (Robbie Amell), who promises to makeover Bianca in exchange for tutoring, he ends up falling for his own trick. He realizes Bianca is funny, cool, and pretty great — especially when she's wearing something other than overalls. In fact, it’s when she’s dressed up for her date with the cool Toby (Nick Eversman) that Wesley really understands how into Bianca he is. And yes, when she reverts back to plaid and jeans, Wesley’s just as smitten, as he should be.
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