ABC news did a recent report on the model factory in Brazil.
In it, Victoria’s Secret superstar Alessandra Ambrosio says that around the turn of the millennium, people became bored with the portrait of the typical model. Brazilians, exceptionally curvaceous and seductive, offered welcomed respite, allowing the ascension of women like Gisele Bundchen, Adriana Lima, and Isabeli Fontana.
Since then, Brazil has been an exporter of top models, specifically a region 1,000 miles south of Rio. There, model scouts go and stand outside grade schools, accosting the ones whose faces and bodies show potential and enticing them out of the farmlands with promises of fame and wealth. Parents, preferring that their daughters be quasi-exploited rather than remain farmers, encourage their daughters to proceed.
Although this sounds ugly and unfair (one comment on the video, with 31 upvotes, says: “I didn’t realize it was this bad. This is disgusting.”), it’s hardly different from what is going on in our own backyard.
The star industry in Hollywood grooms adorable children, many much younger than these girls, for international fame. It’s no happy coincidence that Britney Spears, Fergie, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling, and Christina Aguilera were all in the Mickey Mouse Club before “I’m A Slave 4 U”, “London Bridge”, “SexyBack”, Drive, and “Dirty”, respectively. Let’s not forget that Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez were both on Barney and Friends.
When the scouts’ intuition proves sharp, the girls they met when they were 12 or 13 become international fashion icons. When it doesn’t, and the girls develop unexpectedly or fail to follow draconian diet and exercise regimens, they are sent back to Rio Grande do Sul with nothing but the raggedy clothes they brought with them.
But how about when they glow incandescent for a few years, before wilting like a flower out of soil? In a sick way, that’s the most interesting. That’s also, for the purpose of this list, what happened to the following twelve celebrities, who were at one point the most attractive faces in the galaxy of stars before suddenly going bad.
10 Britney Spears (2001 vs 2007)
Coincidentally, the first person on this list is Britney Spears. For a few years, which could accurately be termed “The Pepsi Years”, Britney Spears was the hottest girl in the world. Remember her on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, lying in clingy white panties with a blanket drawn loosely over her bust? That was in 2003, mere years before she shaved her head and waddled around lip-syncing “Gimme More” at the VMAs. In 2001 she could, like Chiyo from Memoirs of a Geisha, distract a man into causing catastrophe and by 2007 she herself was the trainwreck. Thankfully, Britney has pulled through, but has never recovered from all the damage early on.
9 Lindsay Lohan (2004 vs 2009)
8 Brad Pitt
With looks as legendary as Brad Pitt’s, one would presumably remain handsome until he was in the ground. And even then, he’d probably look better than Lindsay Lohan. Yet Brad Pitt’s looks, subjected to hundreds of hungry adopted children, have left him. He was handsome up until very recently, impressively defying the onward march of time like a majestic oak. But after he turned 50, it seems as though time caught up with him. It’s still tempting to use his name as shorthand for classic Hollywood handsomeness, but doing so would be cheating and would be an insult to the likes of Jamie Dornan and Henry Cavill.
7 Heidi Montag (2009 vs. 2010)
Another teen queen on the scale of Mischa Barton is Heidi Montag from MTV’s The Hills. There, she competed with undeniably more charismatic personalities Lauren Conrad and Kristin Cavallari. She was pretty enough, but she needed something to make her more interesting, or at least more noticeable. That might explain why she got ten surgeries on the very same day in 2010. As told by People Magazine, Montag had a mini brow lift, a chin reduction, Botox in her forehead and frown lines, fat injected into her cheeks, a breast augmentation, a back scoop, and liposuction, all in one afternoon. Overnight she turned cartoonish, trading in corn-fed cuteness for MILFish over-dramatics.
6 Meg Ryan (1998 vs. 2004)
An effortless and natural beauty, Meg Ryan was the queen of romantic comedies. Her movies When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail set the tone of the genre for years after they came out. Her pout, in particular, got her a lot of attention. Had she left her face alone, Meg Ryan would have aged wonderfully. But she got plastic surgery (despite denying that she ever would: ““I don’t want to have some hideous surgery that is not even going to guarantee me any work and could make me unemployable”), drawing attention to and even precipitating the waning of her beauty.
5 Kylie Jenner (2010 vs. 2015)
This is an interesting example because so far on this list we’ve followed a very strict attractive to unattractive trajectory in terms of aging quickly. It sort of skips over this entry, because Kylie Jenner is still very pretty, despite looking much older than she actually is. In reality, she and pseudo-boyfriend Tyga were not allowed to acknowledge their relationship publicly until recently because she was still a legal minor. But, in appearance, she looks as though she’s the same age as her older sister Kim, who’s in her mid thirties with two children. Excessive makeup, costume-y clothes, and lip-filling injections have aged her prematurely, not necessarily in a bad way as much as in a purely striking way.
4 Mischa Barton (2006 vs. 2012)
3 Teri Hatcher (1994 vs. 2004)
2 Prince William (1998 vs. 2006)
Once upon a time, Prince William was considered the hotter royal brother. When he was younger, he looked like his beautiful mother Diana. But his famously unattractive father, Charles Prince of Wales, seemingly regressive genes are showing themselves to be increasingly dominant. Many wondered, when he married Kate Middleton in 2011, how he was able to seduce such a fox. At the same time, his dad was able to seduce Diana, so it isn’t such an impossible enigma. Either way, he has now been eclipsed in looks by his redheaded brother, Prince Harry, who pulled a reverse switcheroo on us (I believe they call it Longbottoming?) turning from a ruddy and sullen teen to a handsome young man.
1 Portia De Rossi (2008 vs. 2014)
On the first three seasons of Arrested Development, ‘til 2006, Portia De Rossi played beautiful Bluth sister Lindsay. When she came back for the fourth season, rebooted by Netflix in 2013, she was playing the near-botched sister Lindsay. Apparently very resistant to transitioning into her forties during the show’s hiatus, De Rossi had completely altered her face with plastic surgery. Once again, instead of having the revitalizing effect that she expected to have, the surgery actually aged De Rossi terribly. Still cute up until the procedure, she now always looks as though she’s the tiniest bit crazed (perhaps because of the astronomical lift done to her eyebrows).