Created By: KJMackley on March 4, 2013 Last Edited By: Larkmarn on May 18, 2013

Formerly Ugly

Their looks have improved in recent years

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Trope
Note for tropers, I was originally going to limit this to In-Universe examples as per the standard of similar tropes but I think there are some examples worth mentioning, noted below. What do you guys think?
People don't always stay looking exactly the same over the years, sometimes they go through weight issues, skin issues, bad hair choices and the like. Thus often while you see someone looking exceptionally attractive in the present story, not long prior they were far less attractive. Other times it is just implied through dialogue.

If shown, it will typically use the same actor/actress but use a Beauty Inversion. Compare She Is All Grown Up, for when puberty is an express reason for it and Beautiful All Along, when very little is done to make them more attractive. Frequently overlaps with Formerly Fat. An inversion would be I Was Quite a Looker when seeing an elderly person in their youth.


Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
  • Arrested Development reveals that Michael's love interest for the season, Rita (played by Charlize Theron), had cosmetic surgery that improved her looks extensively from before, which hid the fact she was mentally retarded. The show used a picture of Theron's Beauty Inversion from Monster as pre-surgery Rita.
  • Friends had the frequent jumps to the characters in late high-school years where Monica was revealed to be exceptionally large and Rachel had a massive nose pre-rhinoplasty.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • Penny coerces Howard to help with a surprise party for Leonard by promising to introduce him to one of her easy friends. Among the list includes "A former fat girl with low self-esteem."
    • The Season 6 Valentines Day episode has Penny coming across an ex-boyfriend and the ex-friend Gretchen he cheated on her with, eventually seeing him propose to her. It really didn't help when Penny notes that Gretchen seemed to have lost some weight.
  • The Drew Carey Show had Drew find a very attractive love interest who claims to have recently lost something like 150 pounds. She slowly gains weight over their courtship because she can't handle being around someone who shamelessly eats and reverts back to her obese size. After breaking up, about a year later we see her back to her very skinny appearance.
  • Annie from Community has been described as "only getting hot after high school."
  • Invoked in How I Met Your Mother. Ted is "on the hook" with a girl whom he asks "have you always been this cute" to which she replies that no, she had buck teeth and bad skin. When Ted asks "Really?" she says "No, I've always been hot."
  • In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a boy that Dee dated in high school shows up, engaged to The Waitress (whom he also dated in high school). They both broke up with him because of his horrible acne. Turns out after becoming attractive, he went back to all the girls who broke his heart and has been getting engaged with them and dumping them just before the wedding.

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
  • Ai Ebihara, an NPC in Persona 4, is revealed to be this and Formerly Fat. When she moved, she took the opportunity to diet and subscribe to fashion magazines to become beautiful and reinvent herself in a new school.

[[folder:Real Life Actors]]
  • Drew Carey himself is an example, during the majority of his career he was a famously heavy guy, which added to his everyman appeal. He was in the Marine Corps, meaning he was once in excellent shape, but after his brother died (who lived much healthier than him) it made him re-examine his life and he lost the weight through exercise and diet.
  • Ethan Suplee, famous for Mallrats, American History X, Remember the Titans, Without a Paddle, My Name Is Earl and Raising Hope is also well known as a heavy guy, but over those films you see him progressively go from obese to merely heavy to downright average. When asked about it he said it wasn't completely intentional, he just started bike riding a lot.
[[/folder]]


Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • March 4, 2013
    KJMackley
    I just found Formerly Fat, which isn't very well pushed through the wiki. I always seem to find supertropes to some more precise subtropes.
  • March 4, 2013
    Larkmarn
    I think this is a good Missing Supertrope. That said, you should add more to the description, specifically what exactly this trope means to the story. Often it means that they have some self-esteem issues and/or are an Oblivious Beauty (has that been launched yet?).

    I think a Real Life section would be acceptable.

    • Annie from Community has been described as "only getting hot after high school."
    • Invoked in How I Met Your Mother. Ted is "on the hook" with a girl whom he asks "have you always been this cute" to which she replies that no, she had buck teeth and bad skin. When Ted asks "Really?" she says "No, I've always been hot."

  • March 4, 2013
    maybeawake
  • March 4, 2013
    KJMackley
    ^ That's more a combination of Beautiful All Along and Adaptational Attractiveness with a dash of Hollywood Homely. This is more about extreme changes commented upon In Universe.
  • March 4, 2013
    TheHandle
    No, it is not. Progressively Prettier is about the progression of a character's design, not a biographical, in-universe change of the character's physical appearance. And the trivia page for this trope could be about actors undergoing this process.

  • March 4, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Either way, this is not Progressively Prettier at all. I'm honestly surprised we don't have a trope for this yet, but we should.
  • March 5, 2013
    randomsurfer
    On The Simpsons Moe gets plastic surgury to become handsome in order to land a soap opera role.
  • March 25, 2013
    ArcadesSabboth
    I sorted the examples into media folders for you. Examples should ALWAYS be sorted before launch. I also fixed the formatting of work names. They should always be in italics, and namespaced if possible.

    tabletop game example:

    • In Werewolf The Apocalypse, the Rokea weresharks all start out with butt-ugly (or at least quite plain) human forms, but can improve their Appearance stat over time. Apparently this ugliness is the result of their race having no human ancestry whatsoever, making their human forms something of an imitation. Bleeds Night, one of the main characters in the splatbook, comments that he was rather "gruesome" when he first went on land, but has a better face now.
  • March 25, 2013
    RedneckRocker
    On several talk shows, they've occasionally done the "I Used to look like a Loser, Now I'm Hot!" subject. Usually so the hottie can rub their good looks in the face of the people who spurned them.
  • March 29, 2013
    KJMackley
    bump
  • March 30, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    There was also an episode of The Drew Carey Show that had Oswald hooking up with a woman who, it turned out, was once picked on by Oswald for being overweight in high school (but was a lot slimmer now). When does he find out? After she ties him to the bed as supposed prelude to some kinkiness, then suggests that their "safe word" should be the name he used to call her. She ends up leaving him tied to the bed.
  • March 30, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    ^ As suggested by the above example, this trope can often be revealed by a former victim of bullying or mockery for their appearance, reappearing to one of the bullies years later as an attractive potential love interest and leading them on--only to get some nasty revenge on them somehow, or simply to walk away from them leaving them sexually frustrated or with unrequited infatuation. I've seen this specific thing a few times, maybe enough to be a subtrope of this.
  • April 16, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In the Made For TV Movie The Girl Most Likely To... Stockard Channing plays a girl who was mocked for being ugly in high school, who gets plastic surgury to become beautiful and then takes revenge on the people who taunted her.
  • April 16, 2013
    Larkmarn
    The Get Smart example is just Formerly Fat.
  • April 26, 2013
    Desertopa
    I'd suggest calling it Ugly Duckling, since the term has been adopted from the fairy tail to describe people like this in real life.
  • April 26, 2013
    Larkmarn
    In regards to the Shes All Grown Up comparison, that's generally more about someone just not thinking about someone that way because she's too young, and usually going from "cute" to "hot."
  • May 17, 2013
    Synchronicity
    • Quinn from Glee turns out to have been this; she was bullied in her younger years so before high school she got a nose job and lost weight.
  • May 17, 2013
    Desertopa
    • Esther DeGroot of Scary Go Round, originally known as Dark Esther, starts out extremely creepy looking, but becomes Progressively Prettier over the course of the comic. The later spinoff comic Giant Days confirms that this is not simply a case of Art Evolution, and Esther was "an ugly duckling who went swan."
  • May 18, 2013
    randomsurfer
    A frequent topic on Maury and similar daytime talk shows is "I used to be plain, now I'm a stripper!" or similar, where someone who was picked on in grade school for being ugly confronts their former tormenters now that they're hot.
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