A Hard Truth Aesop which often goes hand-in-hand with Unnecessary Makeover. The Ingenue learns to dress and act in an overtly-sexual manner in order to snag her man, usually with the help of her "friends". Heaven forbid she should pick someone who likes her the way she is. Fridge Logic wonders, will she have to keep up her new sexy look and attitude forever, and will she resent it?
Most (in)famously done in Grease. Commonly used in fanfiction, leading to Possession Sue. Can be coupled off with Corrupt the Cutie. Compare My Girl Is a Slut; contrast My Girl Is Not a Slut. Also compare Beautiful All Along (which this trope tries to be, with an unfortunate "beauty = slutty" message) and She Cleans Up Nicely. When the trope is portrayed as an effective way to attract men, it may be because All Men Are Perverts. Often overlaps with Operation: Jealousy and The Tease.
You will not often see this trope in shows produced before the 1960s or so, except in cases where the woman is already married to the man whose interest she wants to (re)acquire. The common trope before the 1960s was that men would happily tumble into bed with women who said "yes" but would only marry the woman who said "no". This makes Grease, set in the 1950s, somewhat anachronistic, as a real-life Sandy would have been seen in her time frame as doing exactly the wrong thing to catch Danny — unless she only wanted to catch him for the night. As the bad boy, however, Danny is intentionally at odds with the conventional morality of his time.
Subtrope to Changing Yourself For Love.
- Siesta from The Familiar of Zero. She is originally a kind, gentle and modest maid, but falling in love with Saito makes her push herself so much that she begins to use various costumes that enforce her sex appeal to try to seduce him. It fails.
- Suguri from Inu Baka is a naive Country Mouse who moves to Tokyo to find work and falls in love with the manager of the pet store branch she works at. After working for more than a year and still failing to draw any kind of romantic interest from him, she tries to seduce him with her hostess costumes (which she also works part-time as). Unfortunately, Teppei is a Workaholic and Oblivious to Love and thinks her "sexy" antics are more annoying than her usual attitude.
- Trope Codifier, Sandy in Grease changes from a sweet girl next door to a bad girl.note The film also shows Danny trying to become the Varsity Good Guy to be with Sandy—still, he's extremely glad she made those changes. Kind of weird as they had a relationship that apparently more or less worked before she changed to fit in with his friends. The 1950s (in which the film is set) actually put a good deal of value on fitting in with one's social group, and the 1970s (in which the film was made) was all about reinventing yourself to make your life better.
- Subverted by the 2016 Live TV version. In this adaptation, Sandy is given a backstory in-which her parents have always had a lot of control over her life. This is emphasized by how she lies to them about going to study at her friend's house in order to secretly go to prom, of which her parents would disapprove since they never let her go to dances. With this backstory in mind, Sandy's decision to take on a "bad girl" appearance at the end of the show is clearly not due to the pressure from her friends to fit in, but instead due to Sandy's newfound confidence to be who she has always felt like she was on the inside, not who her parents (or friends, for that matter) want her to be. This is emphasized by Sandy's discussion with Rizzo right before the makeover, where Rizzo makes sure that this is something Sandy wants to do before they go through with it.
- Hobgoblins plays this one utterly straight, with the protagonist Kevin's girlfriend Amy starting off the film as frigid, prudish, and impossible to please (she calls him "pathetic" because he lost an impromptu mock battle against a friend who'd literally just gotten back from the Army). Then the hobgoblins use their Mind Control powers to lower her inhibitions, which makes her go to the local nightclub and start stripping before her friends intervene. By the end of the film, it's clear both Kevin and Amy are happier now that she's "loosened up". MST3K's remarks on this:
Crow: So, Mike, I learned from today's movie that Daphne was a slut, and Amy wasn't fun until she became a slut.
Mike Nelson: Well, that's the fun message of today's movie!
- In the 1931 movie The Smiling Lieutenant, Maurice Chevalier's old girlfriend teaches his new, prim wife, whom he was more-or-less forced to marry, how to vamp it up, and Chevalier falls in love with her.
- The Women: This is the lesson good wife Mary learns when slutty Crystal seduces Mary's husband and steals him away.
"I should've beat her where she beat me, in the sack."
- Parodied in Kabhi Alvida Naa Khena: Dev tells Maya she has to spice things up with her husband to make her marriage work, so she shows up at their apartment dressed as a dominatrix and wielding a whip. Turns out all of her husband's friends are here to watch the football game...
- In the second Blue Collar Comedy movie, Jeff Foxworthy refers to this after explaining Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, noting that the premise could not be flipped so that men could send their girlfriend to five hookers and tell them to "slut her up, just a little bit."
- Earth Girls Are Easy has an entire production number based on this trope, triggered when Julie Brown's character Candy suggests that heroine Geena Davis needs a makeover to recapture her distant (and cheating, not that they know it) boyfriend's eye:
Candy: Your beauty's fresh and wholesome, but science has a cure!
The natural look is nowhere. Your hairdresser knows for sure!
You've gotta learn the art of teasing, change your repertoire!
All you need's a little faith and a see-through push-up bra!
- In Summer of Sam, Mira Sorvino can't please her husband, so she is forced to beg for sex tips from his ex-girlfriend to keep him from cheating.
- In He's Just Not That into You, Jennifer Connelly, in an effort to win back her cheating husband, shows up at his office in the middle of the day to seduce him. We have been given the impression that this is completely out of character for her and that their sex life is virtually non-existent—in fact, she blames herself for his cheating because of this.
- Lampshaded in The Untold Story. The lone female cop dresses in a slutty fashion in order to impress the men in the precinct. They are impressed, but the chief tells her she looks "like a whore". She replies, "But this is the way your girlfriends dress," and he quickly responds, "But they are whores, my dear."
- Dangerous Beauty: Marco Venier refuses to marry Veronica Franco because her family has no money for a dowry. Unable to marry well without a dowry, Veronica has no way to support herself except by becoming a courtesan, literally a whore. Marco eventually persuades her to become his mistress, and they live happily ever after (his wife is less happy about that).
- In the low-budget '90s film The Girl I Want, bookish Amy enlists the help of two of the loosest girls in school to help give her a slutty makeover in order to attract the attention of football team captain Scott. What Amy doesn't know is that Scott has been admiring her from afar and has asked one of the school nerds to tutor him in scholarly subjects, thinking that Amy would notice him if he was smarter. Subverted big time when two eventually meet at a party, post-makeovers; Scott is repulsed by Amy's new look, while Amy thinks that Scott is making fun of her by spouting random facts. They eventually discover that they liked each other they way they had been before, and when the movie ends, Amy, back to being a studious good girl, and Scott, who is letting Amy tutor him, are a happy couple.
- Splendor in the Grass. Deanie won't let Bud have sex with her because good girls don't have sex in 1928 Kansas. This leads to Bud breaking up with Deanie. In an effort to win Bud back, Deanie tarts herself up and tries to seduce him, but fails. Apparently, Bud is just not able to see her in that way, or maybe she just came on too strong. In any event, her effort to seduce Bud at the dance fails.
Bud: Deanie, you're a nice girl.
Deanie: I'm not. I'm not a nice girl.
- Scandal in Sorrento: Violante is in love with Antonio, but he has eyes only for Agnese—mainly because Agnese is played by Sophia Loren wearing a series of tight dresses, while Violante dresses as the prim, reserved widow that she is. Caramella the Old Retainer then gives Violante some advice. She pulls off Violante's dress so that Violante is wearing only a slip, says Violante has a great figure with nice breasts, and says that if Antonio sees her like that he'll go for her. It works: after Violante lets her hair down and puts on lacy, sexy nightclothes, the two of them are on the floor together as the movie ends.
- At the beginning of Love Finds Andy Hardy, Polly is hesitant to let Andy kiss her, saying "Really, l think we're getting much too old for that sort of thing, hugging and kissing." In the end, having been made jealous by Betsy, and with Andy having gone through a serious flirtation with sexy Cynthia, Polly lays a long kiss on Andy.
- Caddyshack: Lacey Underall, Judge Smails' sexually liberated niece put this into practice before she meets and picks up Danny Noonan. At the Fourth of July banquet, Danny becomes sexually attracted to Lacey and Maggie informs him of her reputation. That only makes Danny grow even more attracted to Lacey. Later, when he's in bed with Lacey, Danny tells her that she's still free to have sex with other people.NSFW
- In Juliet of the Spirits, Juliet, a middle-aged wife, has discovered her husband is cheating on her. Distraught, she goes to Bhisma the medium for advice. Bhisma urges Juliet to do just this, saying "Learn to please your husband" and telling her to wear sexy stockings. Juliet is indignant, saying "Whoringsome advice!"
- Madam Satan: After Angela finds out that her husband Bob is cheating on her, Martha the maid expressly tells Angela this, saying "You must make yourself so attractive to him that he won't want to leave you." Then she sings a song about it. Angela eventually follows up on this advice, appearing half-naked at the ball as Madam Satan and enchanting her husband.
- Mermaids: After seeing Rachel kiss Joe on New Year's eve, Charlotte gets drunk and dresses up in Rachel's clothes and makeup, feeling that this would help her look more appealing to Joe. It works.
- Played every which way in The House Bunny. Former Playboy bunny Shelley falls in with a group of misfit sorority girls and helps them update their image, which greatly improves their standing on campus and helps several of them score a guy. Shelley herself falls for a guy who resists her every attempt to flirt with him, until the girls figure out he's one of those rare guys who's interested in (gasp!) conversation. So she starts to dress conservatively and puts up an intellectual facade, with cringe-worthy results. Meanwhile, the other girls realize that they've started to become the same vapid, judgemental people who used to look down on them and decide to go back to their old frumpy ways. Eventually everyone settles on a happy medium.
- Older Than Feudalism example from The Bible: Tamar literally pretended to be a prostitute in a plan that ultimately got her the son that the law, later codified in Mosaic lawnote , entitled her to have from Judah.
- Discussed in A Brother's Price, set in a world where males are rare and secluded and very feminine by our world's standards. Jerin is approaching the age of marriage, and one of his sisters, paging through a men's fashion magazine, wants him to make himself tight-fitting pants with a codpiece. Such clothing would let prospective wives see what they were getting.
Corelle: You need some nice clothes so we can show you off and make a good match. People are saying you're not as fetching as rumored.
- In the Sword of Truth, growing up, one of the young women in Richard's town tried this. By screwing his brother in front of him. It didn't work.
- A number of people advise for or against it in The Wheel of Time. The most notable proponent is Berelain, who used seduction as a means to keep her tiny kingdom of Mayenne free from powerful neighbors. She tried to turn up the charm on Rand, who was mostly oblivious, and on Perrin, who was happily married. In general, genuine affection and respect win out over this trope for the good guys, and if it does work then it's a sign that the characters in question aren't protagonist material. Even the moderately-lecherous Mat is turned off by this trope.
- The Islamic Ummah has "The Obedient Wives Club" with chapters, most prominently in Malaysia and also in Jordan, Indonesia, and Singapore. According to the Malaysian Chapter Spokeswoman, Wives should welcome them with sexy clothes and alluring smiles when in the privacy of their homes. Their Malaysian Chapter Vice-President sums it up, If he needs sex, obey him. You must satisfy your husband. A good wife should be a whore in bed. Public Reaction has been mixed, even in Malaysia itself.
- In his book The Intelligent Woman's Guide To Manhunting Dr. Albert Ellis advises single women that the eligible men prefer to marry women who have a good deal of sexual experience and sexually conservative men are fascists, under parental domination and under the influence of an orthodox religion. He also says that in order to attract the right man, a girl should start masturbating, petting and she should also lose her virginity while she's in her teens. Dr. Ellis also recommends to young women they should become sexual gourmets before they marry by sleeping with a lot of guys and that a woman should have had, say, between 10 and 20 sexual partners by her wedding day:
Try a reasonably large variety of sex partners before you settle down to your one-and-only. Don't be cowed by the term "promiscuity"—which, rightly defined, means indiscriminate sexual congress. Almost no girl, except a real prostitute who sells her favors to anyone who comes along, is truly promiscuous since most girls get hundreds of sex offers from men every year, and even if they accepted a score or more of these offers they would be far from indiscriminate in their selection. So don't surrender to the promiscuity bugaboo.
- In Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill, Freida sleeps with Darwin thinking it will make him fall in love with her and choose her as his "companion." This leads to disaster for all involved.
- In Almost Love by the same author, Sarah does her best to be always sexually accommodating of Matthew (even when this means doing stuff she's uncomfortable with, or skipping out on her personal responsibilities) in the belief he'll stick around if she does. It doesn't work.
- Inverted in Glee: Kurt (knowing Finn won't like it) encourages Rachel to dress like a slut to attract him. When she recreates Sandy's black outfit from Grease, Finn tells her she looks like a "sad clown hooker".
- Exploited in Robin Hood. Kate dresses up as a drunken and flirty tavern wench in order to provide a distraction for a man whom the outlaws are trying to con. Granted, she's not doing it specifically to get Robin's attention, but it does seem a rather interesting coincidence that the two become a couple in the very next episode.
- Subverted in Todd and the Book of Pure Evil. Hannah dresses up as a sexy rocker chick, complete with a short skirt and a low-cut shirt, in order to win the affections of the main character. She then climbs in through his bedroom window and makes some rather deliberate advances toward him. Todd is weirded out by Hannah's behavior and remains fixated on his love interest, Jenny. Later, she bemoans what she's turned herself into and switches back to her science geek wardrobe.
- Married... with Children:
- One episode of has Steve and Marcy falling out over his refusal to shave off the beard he's grown. Marcy finally wins by appearing wearing only some lacy black underwear and carrying an electric razor.
- The situation is reversed with Peg. There are several episodes where she dresses in a more sexy manner to entice Al, and while the audience would react in kind, Al himself would react with his usual indifference. The truth is, if she had spent less time trying to be a sexpot and more time being an ideal housewife (cooking, cleaning, etc,) then Al would spend a lot more love and attention on her. This fact was highlighted in one episode where Peg was cleaning the backyard for the family's Labor Day barbecue and Al couldn't keep his hands off her, and for once she didn't want sex because she was exhausted from the manual labor.
- I Love Lucy features several episodes where Lucy tries to sexy herself up either because she thinks Ricky is not paying enough attention to her or because she's jealous of the young women he works with. One of the "country" episodes features the husbands lusting after a sexy young girl in a tight dress (played by a pre-I Dream of Jeannie Barbara Eden) so Lucy, Ethel, and Grace (aka "Country Ethel") glamorize themselves to compete for their husbands' attention.
- Subverted in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation when Picard finds himself dealing with a very seductive and sensual female claiming to be Ardra, the devil incarnate (and therefore the legal owner to an entire planet that supposedly sold their souls to her in exchange for a thousand years of peace). When Picard wakes up one night to find her in his cabin, stating that she knows he desires her, he brusquely replies, "On the contrary. I find you obvious and vulgar." To her credit, the woman immediately offers to dress in more demure clothing, before shifting to the form of Deanna Troi to offer him "forbidden fruit." Neither offer succeeds.
- Degrassi: Manny did this in order to stop being seen as cute and win over a random one-shot character, but it's most remembered for helping her win over Craig.
- Subverted in Zoey 101: Quinn does this to get Mark back, but fails. Logan does fall for her, but only after he puts her glasses back on.
- The Brothers Garcia had Lorenna wear a tube top and don lots of makeup to try and get a boy to notice her. Deconstructed then when he shows interest in another girl who isn't wearing makeup at all. Sonia gives Lorenna a Be Yourself speech and suggests the boy went for the other girl because she was more confident in her own skin.
- In one episode of That '70s Show, Kitty wants to re-acquire Reds interest, and asks Hydes stripper wife to teach her some moves. She finally succeeds when she accidentally gets her hair burned and changes her hairdo.
- Inverted in one episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, where Hilary, a Valley Girl-type, meets an attractive doctor while volunteering. She is frustrated as to why he's not interested until Will tells her that he's more of the intellectual type of person. She takes it to the extreme, wearing frumpy clothes and pretending she's interested in politics.
- A season three episode of One Tree Hill has Haley, under the guise of Brooke, who meant well but didn't have the same approach on relationships as her friend did, trying this at a costume party to win back her husband, Nathan, who has left her because she abandoned him and became a rock star a year earlier. To drive the point home further, she even dresses up as post-makeover Sandy. To say the effort fell flat would be a huge understatement. Haley even discusses how much of a flop it was:
Haley: I mean, what did you think Brooke, that I could just dress up in tight, black leather and heels and smoking a cigarette and that it would win back Nathan's heart?
Brooke: Wait a minute, you were smoking?
- Invoked in Arrow when Sin has to dress like an actual prostitute to catch the Villain of the Week. So Roy pretends that Sin has a date and asks his girlfriend Thea if she can borrow something slutty to wear. Thea donates one of her short skirts that she promises will guarantee a second date.
- MAD Magazine's parody of Grease (titled "Cease") had fun with this aspect of the musical too.
Sandy: In order to get the guy you love you have to be a slut! What a wonderful message for the youth of America!
- Invoked by one of the maidens in Medieval Madness.
"That dragon is big! But I bet you're bigger!"
- Chris Rock had a stand-up bit based on how past relationships shape the requirements for current relationships for men and women differently: "Women can't go backward in terms of lifestyle, while men can't go backward sexually." Basically, Rock told the women in the audience that if their men kept insisting on kinky sex acts, it was because a previous girlfriend did it for him.
- Lenny Bruce once said that men essentially want to date a slut and marry a saint. This bit was reenacted in his biopic.
- Live musical performances of Grease follow this trope, having girl-next-door-type, sweet Sandy change to look like a vamp-y bad girl at the end—to be with Danny and to fit among his friends.
- In Return to the Forbidden Planet, Miranda tries this on Captain Tempest after he sings about how she's much too young for him. "Good morrow, big boy!" It doesn't work quite the way she wants it—on the one hand, it does get the Captain's attention, but the robot Ariel has to remind her that it was her sweetness and charm that attracted the Captain to her in the first place, not a frou-frou frock.
- In Legally Blonde: The Musical, the song Positive, as sung by Elle's imaginary Greek chorus of sorority sisters, encourages her to do this to win her ex-boyfriend back from his new uptight girlfriend.
Look at her, she's like a nun
Show him you are way more fun
Bust out the lap dance and you've won
You off the hizzle, G!
Keep it positive
Let out your inner freak
Keep it positive
Miss Prissy Pants won't last a week!
Girls! How is this helping? He's not even here!! He left while we were shaking junk!!
- Subverted by the end of the song:
Girls I'm positive
That we've taken this too far
No, I'm positive
This is Harvard, not a stripper bar
All this trashy carrying on
That's the reason that he gone
- A Chorus Line has "get implants to get your career" in the song "Dance Ten, Looks Three." The good dancer who wasn't getting roles until she had plastic surgery is perfectly fine with the results and encourages other women to do the same.
- In the Heavy Rain level "Sexy Girl", Madison sluts herself up in order to get the attention of the man she's trying to get information from. She mentions that he likes his girls "cute, in a dumb sort of way."
- Katawa Shoujo's case is... unusual. Hanako doesn't change her appearance, but she does allow Hisao to have sex with her in order to change his perception of her as someone that needs to be protected. It works, but only after she has to explain it. Furthermore, the sex is obviously very awkward and uncomfortable for Hanako and Hisao feels horrible when he finds out the truth.
- The game Chulip is a weird Gender Flip example. The main character wants to win the literal girl of his dreams over, and to do so, he has to kiss as many townspeople as possible (age, gender, and species indiscriminate) to prove that he's a popular and experienced guy.
- In PK Comic Kate and Bo both advise Jess to act slutty to attract men's attention, Kate goes so far as to demonstrate by pulling a complete stranger with a cheesy chat up line and leaving with him.
- In Questionable Content, after the Faye-Dora-Marten Love-Triangle finally collapsed, with Dora and Marten winding up together, Faye heads home to visit her mother and unwind for a bit. After telling her mother the entire story, the old lady tells her that, back in the day, she'd been stuck in a similar love triangle with Faye's late father - and, obviously, won, resulting in the following conversation:
Faye: Yeah, but you ended up marryin' dad. How'd you get him to pick you instead of the other girl?Faye's Mom: Oh, that was easy. I just put out first.Faye: MOM!Faye's Mom: Well, I didn't say it was EXACTLY like your situation!
- In Sticky Dilly Buns, this is the sort of tactic that works pretty well for most characters such as ex-porn star Amber (and for that matter for her friend Dillon), but it ends up being averted in the case of Amber's sister Ruby. When she decides that she'd like to go to bed with her boyfriend Andy, Ruby attempts a series of increasingly blatant hints and offers (including borrowing Amber's quite respectable but pretty darned brazen Little Black Dress), but everything bounces off Andy. When she finally insists on discussing the matter, it turns out that Andy is nervous and slightly unsure of his sexuality, but prepared to be talked rationally into going ahead.
- Mocked mercilessly and then torn apart in Clone High's two-part finale: after a series of embarrassing makeovers from Abe and Toots, Cleo completely tarts up Joan of Arc. She hates the makeover but decides to keep it because it makes Abe say she's "hot" for the first time in the whole series. She stills ends up going to prom with JFK, because Abe is preoccupied with Cleo. Then JFK admits that he's liked her all along "even when she's not being a slutty whore" and they sleep with each other, just in time for Abe to realize he likes her and burst in on them.
- Family Guy:
- Lois took Meg out shopping and pushed shirts that had "Porn Star" and "Sperm Dumpster" written on them. This is a comment on several things, one is the characters of Lois and Meg, but the other is the fact that such shirts really are sold to girls.
- In the same episode, Meg got one of these makeovers. Everybody was nicer to her and she lost her virginity to Jimmy Fallon.
- In South Park, when Stan falls in love with a substitute teacher, Wendy does this to try to win him back. She fails because the teacher does something similar herself.
- Wendy does it again in the episode "Bebe's Boobs Destroy Society," getting a set of massive breast implants. However the guys have just gotten over their infatuation with boobs, so they just laugh at her.
- Interestingly subverted in "Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset," in which the girls dress and act like, well, stupid spoiled whores, but as part of a fad that is an end in and of itself and NOT to attract male attention. In fact, the boys seem to be put off by the girls' new personae, and unlike the episodes where Wendy sluts herself up to attract Stan's attention, in this one she rails against the fad.
- Subverted yet again in "The Hobbit" when Wendy resists the sudden trend she inadvertently started of young girls Photoshopping themselves to attract boys. In the end, she reluctantly Photoshops herself and distributes it then begins to cry.
- Inverted in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, where Mandy dons a similar look (complete with frizzy hair and a lollipop) to reject the new kid, 'Pif', that she's fallen in love with. Soon as he starts slobbering over her new look, he loses his air of coolness, and Mandy's able to "hate again".
- Subverted in My Little Pony Tales when Melody makes over Bright Eyes to be 'cool' rather than a bookworm. Her new look and attitude completely backfire, causing an also-made up Lancer to reject her at the same time she rejects his new persona. The two get together after reverting to their normal selves, much to Melody's complete confusion.
- Attempted by Lisa in an episode of The Simpsons when she finds out that all the other girls in her class have already gotten dates for the upcoming school dance. Lisa dons a cocktail dress and heavy makeup in an attempt to attract a partner for herself, but all the boys she approaches have already been asked by girls sporting similar looks. She then desperately asks Milhouse out, but even he has already asked someone out. As Lisa demands he change his mind, she sees her reflection in his glasses and realizes this is not the way to present herself.
- Bob's Burgers: In "Bad Tina", Tina's new friend Tammy encourages Tina to change her style (complete with the typical middle school/junior high too-much-make up look) to attract Jimmy Pesto. Tina eventually realizes the makeup (and getting "drunk" on her mom's non-alcoholic margarita mix) isn't really her and decides to go back to her old style.