Hollywood Homely - Television Tropes & Idioms
tvtropes.org said:Hollywood Homely
Five minutes into the film, I relaxed, knowing it was set in the real world, and not in the Hollywood alternative universe where Julia Roberts can't get a date.
—Roger Ebert, on My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Producer: What were you thinking?
Casting: Well, you said you wanted gritty. In other words, ugly.
Producer: I wanted Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island ugly, not Cornelius on Planet of the Apes ugly. TV-ugly, not ... ugly-ugly.
— The Simpsons, "Pygmoelian"
Dramatic situations sometimes require a character (usually female) who is unappealing, unattractive, and has a hard time finding dates. However, unattractive or even average-looking women are often dissuaded from even trying to get acting jobs in Hollywood, so the person cast in the role ends up being more gorgeous than anybody you'll ever meet in real life. Likewise, producers know that "beauty is money," and so they're disinclined to cast genuinely unattractive people even as villains or extras, but would rather simply infer homeliness to the character via character-reactions — regardless of the irony presented in attributing such to the fairly good-looking person playing the role.
She'll also be much thinner, since women of average build are considered to be lumbering oxen by most Hollywood producers even if they're as fit as an Olympian. They make her "plain" by giving her some or all of: thick glasses, braces, unfashionable clothes, an unflattering hairstyle, and an even-better-looking sibling or friend. A more subtle method involves giving the actress clothes that clash with her natural skin color, making her look pale or blotchy — a method also often used in "before-and-after" shots for diet-pill commercials.
Generic Cuteness is the animated equivalent of this trope, and the result is a very Informed Deformity. Cue the logical outcome, Cookie Cutter Cuties which describe what you have to look like in order to be "physically acceptable".
Compare Beautiful All Along, Loser Guy, Cool Loser, Hollywood Nerd, Hollywood Pudgy. Contrast Informed Attractiveness and Gorgeous Gorgon. Adaptational Attractiveness is when this trope is applied to characters who were plain, unattractive, old, etc. in the source material a show is based on. Beauty Inversion is the use of makeup or prosthetics to successfully avert this trope.
P.U.G. Knows | Movies | EW.comtvtropes.org said:Beautiful All Along
Like magic! Or maybe not!
"Like in one of those movies. You know. When they take off their glasses and put down their hair. 'Why, Miss Finch, you're beautiful.'"
—Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things
A stock plot: an ugly duckling loses the glasses, takes down her hair, maybe gets a little makeup and walks down the stairs as a swan. Pretty much the plot of the movie She's All That.
Another version of this would be "Miss Jones Syndrome", where a dowdy, bespectacled woman switches to contacts, shakes loose her hair and is told by the unrequited object of her affections, "Why, Miss Jones, you are beautiful." (A variant on this can be heard in Thomas Dolby's song "She Blinded Me With Science": "Good heavens, Miss Sakamoto, you're beautiful!")
This is mainly possible because most of the "ugly" women on TV are beautiful actresses in bad clothes, though it also has something to do with narrow standards of beauty in movies and TV.
Starts as a nice little moral about how looks aren't everything, but saves the hero from actually having to go out with an ugly girl.