Pretty or Not, Here They Come: 10 Stars Who Defied Hollywood’s Beauty Standards!

By Krystal Brown

The film, TV and music industry is actually quite shallow, and you wouldn’t believe how many celebrities have been told that they won’t go very far because their looks didn’t fit within the conventional ideas. 

Meryl Streep

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We can’t even imagine anyone criticizing Meryl Streep, let alone telling her that her looks weren’t good enough. In the 70’s, she was looking at moving away from theater and into film. Meryl had an audition for the 1976 remake of “King Kong.” However, during this audition, the producer spoke to his son and asked him why he brought in an ugly woman. It was at this point that Meryl replied, “I’m sorry I’m not as beautiful as I should be”. Despite this minor setback, Meryl is now one of the most admired actresses of all time. 

Kate Winslet 

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Kate admitted during a talk on We Day UK that she was bullied as a child and teenager for her weight. She was often called Blubber by the people in her class. Awful! There was also a time where Kate states that she wasn’t attractive enough to make it as an actress and someone said, “As long as she was happy to settle for the fat girl parts.” Despite this, at the age of 15, she appeared in BBC’s “Dark Season” and won her first BAFTA at the age of 20. 

Barbra Streisand

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We know that Barbra’s prominent nose has been one of her defining characteristics, but she has been criticised for this for years. In fact, when she was first starting out, she was called “too Jewish-looking” and bullied for the size of her nose. Barbra was even told that she wouldn’t make it into showbiz because of this, but has relentlessly refused plastic surgery. Her incredible voice and ability to shut down the critics has proven that talent takes you further than looks. 


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When watching the way that P!nk speaks and her performances on the stage, she comes across as a confident person. However, she has apparently never felt conventionally attractive and whilst having a chat with Redbook, P!nk said that she has always been criticized for the way she looks and told that she would never be on the covers of magazines because she isn’t pretty enough. P!nk hit back to the magazine and said that she was “perfectly comfortable with not being conventionally beautiful and that she has always put more focus into other aspects of her life, such as her happiness, family, and health.” 

Lady Gaga

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Gaga has been told many times that she wasn’t pretty enough to make it big, and an old friend of her’s said that Gaga has faced an incredible uphill battle whilst trying to make it into the music industry. Firstly, she wasn’t taken seriously, but she was also told that she wasn’t pretty enough for mainstream pop. Thankfully, the pent up frustration Gaga had bagged her the role as Ally in “A Star Is Born” and she has earned a lot of praise from it. 

Kat Dennings

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Even though she has starred in a hit CBS series, Dennings doesn’t consider herself a conventional “Hollywood” star. New York Times reported that she calls herself “socially weird” and doesn’t like attending any of the Hollywood parties. Michael Patrick King, who was the co-creator of “2 Broke Girls” stated that Kat would prefer to stay in her apartment on the weekends. Kat said that she has previously been told to fix her teeth, dye her hair and lose weight by previous casting agents. She has refused to do any of this, and now she’s a millionaire. 

Winona Ryder 

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Winona is known to take on the more non-conventional characters, and in an interview Winona said that for the first five or six movie roles, they were specifically written for non-attractive people. Winona called herself “unusual looking” and the roles that she took led her to bigger and better things. Winona also touched on a time when she was mid-interview when she was 16 and the casting director stopped her to let her know that she wasn’t pretty enough for Hollywood and that she should go back to school. 

Nia Vardalos 

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Nia has created a prominent role of Toula Portokalos in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and takes great pride in her Greek heritage. When she was first starting out in Hollywood, the acting agent told her that she wasn’t pretty enough to be a leading role and that no one wants to write Greek roles. Her frustration was then channeled and she wrote a one woman play about a Greek wedding. This was then seen by Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson who helped her produce the movie. 

Viola Davis 

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There was an article in 2014 called “Wrought in Rhimes’s Image” that was written by Alessandra Stanley who said, “Davis doesn’t look at all like the typical star of a network drama. She is less classically beautiful than Kerry Washington.” Viola responded by saying that “being a dark-skinned black woman, you hear it from the time you get out of the womb.” Her response was praised by many and was poignant and empowering. 

Mindy Kaling 

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Mindy left college and moved to New York where she co-wrote a play about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck called “Matt & Ben”. She then decided to move to Los Angeles and gained a writing gig on “The Office”. She was then offered a sketch show but after being personally offered the show, she was forced to audition. However, she didn’t get it because she wasn’t attractive enough… for playing herself. Figure that one out! Despite this, Mindy has flourished in spite of the experience.

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