Most of us have gone through an awkward stage (or two) in life. Remember in middle school when you didn’t quite know what to do with your hair, you had braces, and you tried virtually every remedy on the market to clear up your skin? Or maybe your awkward phase was in high school, which you were a self-proclaimed nerd, wore extremely thick glasses and didn’t exactly care enough about fashion to follow trends. Or maybe you did follow fashion trends, and now you regret the error of your ways.
Whether you perpetuated your own “ugly duckling” phase of life or you were just a victim of the cruel reality that is puberty, you know what it means to look less than your best. Fortunately, there are some famous people who inspire us when it comes to getting out of the awkward phase successfully. These celebs used to be pretty nerdy, and made some unattractive fashion and beauty choices in the past. However, they have blossomed significantly, and are now considered pretty sexy. Need some more reminders that the awkward stage doesn’t have to last forever? Here are 14 celebs who went from nerdy to hottie, and gave us all hope during the transition.
14 Alyssa Milano
When the gorgeous Alyssa Milano got her start in acting, she was traveling with the play Annie. She then went on to earn her most popular role—Samantha on the sitcom Who’s The Boss? Milano played the daughter of Tony Danza, and in the first few seasons of the show, she was a tomboy who didn’t care much about her looks. Her thick, curly hair wasn’t overly styled, she was in need of braces, and she could have used an eyebrow wax or two. However, as time progressed, Alyssa grew into the heartthrob we all know and love. She is proof that puberty isn’t the worst thing ever for everyone, since she was still pretty cute during her awkward phase. Alyssa Milano is also known for her role on the hit show Charmed, and has recently spoken out about the benefits of breastfeeding for child health, which has caused a little controversy, but she doesn’t seem to care.
13 Michael Angarano
If Michael Angarano’s face looks familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen the Disney movie Sky High, or the Nickelodeon film Maniac Magee. Angarano hadn’t quite gotten his look together in either of these movies, but that’s okay, because he was a young teenager who was too busy wowing the world with his dimples and acting talent. Michael Angarano even dated Kristen Stewart for a while, which was proof that his awkward phase was definitely not permanent. Their romance ended before Robert Pattinson came on the scene. We’re guessing Anganaro is glad he dodged that whole cheating scandal that involved Stewart. Angarano has been filming movies for the past few years, and lives a pretty quiet life in LA with his girlfriend, actress Juno Temple.
12 Jennifer Love Hewitt
These days, Jennifer Love Hewitt is considered one of the hottest actresses in the business. Even though she gets some criticism for being curvier than many celebs, she is also celebrated for her body (particularly her hips and breasts). Back in the day, Hewitt was a cast member on Kids Incorporated, and was known as “Love Hewitt.” It didn’t seem to matter to Jennifer that she had big hair, over-sized clothing and huge teeth. After all, it was the late 80s/early 90s, and she was just a little kid back then. Her talent and personality helped to move her career forward, and now she’s got a host of impressive movies and TV shows under her belt, including Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit, Ghost Whisperer and The Client List.
11 Paul Butcher
If you remember the popular teen drama Zoey 101, you remember Dustin, the main character’s annoying little brother. Dustin was fun, loving and precocious, and always getting into trouble. Butcher isn’t like that in real life (that we know of), since he’s been out of the spotlight for the most part after Zoey 101 ended. He’s had minor roles on popular TV shows like ER and NYPD Blue, and he may even have the athletic gene, since his dad, Paul Butcher, Sr., is a former NFL linebacker. Paul is also a singer, which further proves that he’s just as talented as he is hot.
10 Josh Peck
You probably remember Josh Peck as one half of the comedic duo on the Nickelodeon show Drake and Josh. Peck played the title role along with his best friend Drake Bell. The two portrayed step-brothers, and Josh was always seen as the chubby, lovable one. However, Peck started losing weight and coming out of the other side of puberty. These days, he would easily be considered a hottie. Peck also stars alongside John Stamos in the Fox show Grandfathered, where he plays Stamos’ son. Yes, you read that right. That’s the level of hotness Josh Peck has achieved. Impressive, right?
9 Eric Lloyd
Eric Lloyd was the character Charlie, in The Santa Claus. Charlie was a loving and innocent character, and we’d like to think Lloyd has some of the same qualities now that he’s super hot. He’s got deep, dreamy eyes and dark hair, so for girls who are into that sort of thing, he’s a perfect 10. Eric is also a comedian and musician, and is known for his role as “Little John” Warner in the NBC TV series Jesse. He’s also a pretty smart guy. He teamed up with his roommate from college to create a production and post-production company located in Glendale. Looks like he’s an all-around catch—at least his wife, actress Lisa Marie Tasker, thinks so.
8 Alex D. Linz
You may remember the adorable Alex D. Linz from Disney movies like Full-Court Miracle and Max Keeble’s Big Move. He also did some voice work for the popular 90s Nickelodeon cartoon Hey Arnold. Linz is also popular for his role in Home Alone 3. He went through a phase where he wasn’t quite sure what to do with his hair, and he was growing into his facial features. But these days, Linz, who is in his mid 20s, is quite handsome. He’s figured out what to do with his facial hair and has perfected the smoldering yet innocent boy-next-door look. Linz has taken a few minor roles over the past few years, but we’re sure his fans would love to see more of him on the big and small screens.
7 Madeline Zima
You may not recognize the name Madeline Zima, but you likely recall her face. This actress was the youngest child in the Sheffield family on the popular sitcom The Nanny. Zima played the character of Grace on the show, and embodied the name by being innocent and open to new life experiences. Madeline was also the face of the Downy commercials before she got her role on The Nanny. She grew from a doe-eyed, adorable child into a tall, beautiful woman. She had a role on Heroes briefly, an also appeared in The Vampire Diaries and Californication. Madeline definitely went through her nerdy phase, and even came across as a little nerdy during her time on Heroes. But there’s no denying that she’s both talented and stunning, and will likely be working for quite some time.
6 Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba has long been thought of as one of Hollywood’s top hotties. However, when she started out as a child actress, she had a bit of a nerdy appearance and demeanor. She wore very little makeup, dressed a bit like a tomboy, and wasn’t very glamorous. In Camp Nowhere, Alba and her friends end up taking charge of the camp they attend, sending the message that geeks rule the world. By the time Alba was cast in The Secret World of Alex Mack, she was seen as a young femme fatale. This was the start of Jessica Alba being the hot girl next door in movies. Sin City and Dark Angel are also movies that made Alba popular, as well as Fantastic Four, where she met her husband, Cash Warren.
5 Dylan and Cole Sprouse
These adorable twins got their start on Grace Under Fire. They played Grace’s youngest child by taking turns (the same way Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen portrayed Michelle on Full House). The twins are also known for their success on the Disney Channel. They portrayed characters Zack and Cody on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and The Suite Life On Deck. The Sprouse twins took some time away from the spotlight to attend college, and are now in their twenties. While they were pretty cute as kids, they hit an awkward/too much hair/nerdy/preppy phase. But these days, they’re eye candy for their adoring fans. Their fashion sense has improved, they’ve got beautiful smiles, and they each have a charm that still has girls a bit obsessed.
4 Anna Paquin
Anna Paquin has the distinction of being the second youngest person to win an Oscar. She was exceptional in the movie The Piano, and showed an understanding of her character that most adult actors would have struggled with. Paquin was also a bit of a nerd growing up, and didn’t really become especially hot until around the time she started appearing in the X-Men movies. When Paquin played Rogue in the X-Men film franchise, she came across as nerdy on screen as well, in that she was shy and had a crush on someone, but doesn’t know what to do about it. These days, Anna Paquin certainly knows what to do on the red carpet, and is known for her eye-catching features and creative sense of style.
3 Danielle Fishel
Danielle Fishel will always be known as Topanga, Cory’s love interest and eventual wife on the sitcom Boy Meets World. She now reprises her role in the Disney show Girl Meets World, which follows Riley, the daughter of Cory and Topanga, and her adventures as she learns about life and love. When Fishel was first introduced on the show, she was bohemian before it was actually chic. Her hair was especially large, she wore clothes that didn’t necessarily match, and she came across as both grounded and a little spacey. As the show progressed, Topanga’s image changed. She got a blow-out, starting wearing tight jeans, and looked stunning in the episodes where the cast had to dress up for one reason or another. Fishel pretty much grew up on TV, and went from being an awkward middle scholar, to a sexy and confident law student and wife.
2 Justin Timberlake
Sure, Justin Timberlake is one of the first people you think of when it comes to hot male singers. However, this wasn’t always the case. Timberlake was the shy, nerdy member of the group N’Sync. He was the youngest member of the group, and was known for his blonde curls. He also worked with Disney, and came across as pretty awkward with his bleach blonde hair and denim jacket. Then, something magical happened. Justin grew out of puberty, and started wearing his hair in more polished styles. In the words of his popular song, he actually got a “suit and tie” or two, and started working out. The rest, as they say, is history. Timberlake is now married to actress Jessica Biel, and the two have a son together.
1 Joseph Gordon Levitt
Remember when Joseph Gordon Levitt, or JGL as he is known by his fans, was the lanky little boy on the hit show Third Rock From The Sun? Levitt was definitely going through his awkward phase during his time on the show, and has the questionable fashion choices and hairstyles to prove it. Joseph also came across as pretty nerdy, and his fans seemed to appreciate that. He took some time away from Hollywood to go to college, but returned to the spotlight in movies like The Dark Knight Rises and Inception. These days, JGL is pretty hot, and has developed his own sense of hipster style. His fans also love seeing Levitt in a suit, and we can certainly see why. He’s gone from awkward teen to sophisticated gentleman pretty seamlessly.