35+ Celebs Who Were Told They’re “Not Pretty Enough” for Hollywood Prove Just How Unrealistic Beauty Standards Really Are

This article appeared in Thefashionball and has been published here with permission.

Celebs Who Were Told They’re “Not Pretty Enough” for Hollywood

We’ve all compared ourselves to Hollywood celebrities, but these beauty standards are unrealistic and can cause some pretty big self-confidence issues. It might shock us all to know that some very well-known and crushed-on celebrities feel the same way. In fact, some of them were even told they weren’t pretty enough for Hollywood. From Gwyneth Paltrow to Kate Upton, we’ve compiled a list of bombshell celebrities who were actually told some pretty harsh things about their overall look and yet still were able to make a name for themselves! Take that, Hollywood!

Chrissy Teigen

When people think of Chrissy Teigen, most think of eye-popping Sports Illustrated covers and hilarious Instagram posts. But, Chrissy Teigen fought her way up through the modeling universe despite some pretty harsh criticism.

Chrissy Teigen

Before she captured that Sports Illustrated cover, Teigen actually worked as a model and got a job with fashion retailer Forever 21. Still, during her time there, she never really got to do any modeling for them. Why? She was told she was not needed because of her weight, and now she’s one of the biggest names in Hollywood.

Barbara Streisand

Barbra Streisand has one of the best voices in the world. On top of that, she’s a talented actress, writer, director, and producer. Though those aren’t her only accolades, it might shock you to find out that some people tried to dissuade her from heading to Hollywood.

Barbara Streisand

It’s one thing when the industry criticizes you, but when it’s your own parents, that’s another thing. Telling Barbara that she was too ugly to be a star only seemed to motivate her more!

Gwyneth Paltrow

Many look at Gwyneth Paltrow — daughter of actress Blythe Danner and film producer-director Bruce Paltrow — as one of the most beautiful Hollywood stars. But, before she hit it big, she got denied a role for not being glamorous enough.

Gwyneth Paltrow

When she was told she was “too plain” for a particular part she auditioned for, she ignored the criticism and kept moving. Eventually, she found her way to a pretty sweet spot in the Hollywood elite.

Benedict Cumberbatch

Beauty is really in the eye of the beholder. There are some people that drool over Benedict Cumberbatch and others that think he’s just a tad weird looking. But, though his looks may be controversial — and he may have gotten some pretty harsh criticism — he still found his way into the spotlight.

Benedict Cumberbatch

In fact, one person was even quoted as saying he was the “ginger weird one.” That was, of course, before he got his big break on the hit BBC show Sherlock.

Jennifer Lawrence

It’s hard to imagine a world without Jennifer Lawrence. Not only is she beautiful and talented, but she has an incredible sense of humor too. Before she could leverage her stardom, though, there were many that continually told her she needed to diet. Now, of course, no Hollywood producer or director would dare call her fat. Still, there were times that Lawrence was called out for her weight.

Jennifer Lawrence

The brunt of criticism came after The Hunger Games was released, in which the media labeled Lawrence many things — including “well-fed” and “womanly” and even too “big-boned” to make the role seem believable. Luckily, the star stood her ground, saying that she’d never hurt her body for a part.

Jessica Chastain

Jessica Chastain has a unique look, mostly because she rocks her flaming red locks. People with red hair have always been criticized no matter who they are, but it seems to be even more challenging in Hollywood.

Jessica Chastain

That hasn’t stopped Jessica from hitting it big, though. Before she began landing role after role, however, she was told countless times that she wasn’t pretty enough — even if the role had nothing to do with her looks.

Kat Dennings

Many young actresses are given tons of advice as they try to break into the business. For Kat Dennings, this meant people told her she needed to change everything, from losing weight to getting a tan.

Kat Dennings

It’s good for us that she didn’t listen to the haters and critics, because we now have this stunning beauty to look at. Not only is she beautiful and curvy, but she’s hilarious to boot.

Kate Upton

For a couple of decades, when people thought of fashion models and bikini-clad Sports Illustrated covers, they’d imagine ladies like Naomi Campbell and Heidi Klum. So it’s not surprising that Kate Upton, who has a little bit of a more curvaceous figure, was told that she needed to lose some weight if she wanted to make it in the business.

Kate Upton

In fact, according to the model herself, “When I first started modeling, it was a different time. Some people thought I was too curvy […] In a lot of ways, I think the industry really built me up and tore me down—and then I built myself back up.”

Keira Knightley

Several actresses have been told they need to lose weight in order to make it big. So much so that many of us assume that the skinnier, the better. But apparently, that’s not the case.

Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley was told she was too skinny even though that’s just her natural build. According to the British bombshell, she now says the comments affected her to a point that she would not encourage any of her future children to take up acting.

Ke$ha

Sometimes, criticism can be constructive, but it tends to be more harmful than helpful when it’s about someone’s appearance. For Ke$ha, a talented singer-songwriter, this is exactly what happened.

Ke$ha

After making her way to the spotlight, she was continually told that she was too heavy and so, the California native developed an eating disorder. She worked her way through it, but it wasn’t an easy road, and the critics definitely didn’t help.

Khloé Kardashian

It’s hard enough dealing with criticism when you’re building a career on your own, but it can be even more challenging when you’re doing it alongside your family. For Khloé Kardashian, who rose to fame with her sisters, this really put her under the microscope.

Khloé Kardashian

For years, she was told that she was fat and ugly and so, eventually, Khloé decided she wanted to do something about it. She has since transformed her body and leads an extremely healthy lifestyle. Though we think she was beautiful before, we can understand how all of the criticism over the years helped fuel some self-confidence issues.

Kate Winslet

Many actors and actresses find it hard to ignore the criticism and eventually end up giving in, making cosmetic changes to their faces and/or bodies. But, for the super talented Kate Winslet, that was never part of her plan.

Kate Winslet

Even though she’s been criticized over the years about her weight and other physical attributes, Kate banks on her talent. These skills are part of the reason she’s gotten so far, aside from her undeniably stunning looks.

Lady Gaga

Sometimes, no matter how much talent you have, people just find your flaws and expose them to the world. For Lady Gaga, it was her prominent features, specifically her nose.

Lady Gaga

There was so much focus on this that she agreed to have a nose job at one point, but she ultimately hit it big before that occurred. After all, her nose has nothing to do with her talent!

Lea Michele

It seems that Hollywood can sometimes get hung up on one specific attribute, and for many of the actresses, that’s their nose. For Lea Michele, several told her that she would never make it because of her nose.

Lea Michele

During an interview with Allure, Michele revealed that “when I was 15, my mother and I went to meet a manager who said, ‘You have to get a nose job in order for me to work with you.’ My mother would say to me, ‘Barbra Streisand never got a nose job. You’re not getting a nose job.’

Lizzy Caplan

The idealized version of what beauty is in Hollywood is tragic. And sometimes, some of those sessions and auditions must feel a little like a scene from Mean Girls. For Lizzy Caplan, this was definitely the case!

Lizzy Caplan

On one occasion, during an audition, she was told that she wasn’t pretty enough to be on the WB at an audition. Sticking with her patented brand of humor, she retorted by talking about creating a T-shirt featuring the phrase “I’m WB Pretty”.

Meryl Streep

When you think of top-tier actresses, most people place Meryl Streep in their top five. This is because she has become an icon throughout the years, thanks to her inarguable talent. But, even she had to handle some pretty tough criticism.

Meryl Streep

When she auditioned for King Kong, the director spoke in his native language, criticizing her beauty. Luckily, she spoke Italian and shot back with a pretty nice comeback. She eventually got the role, too!

Mindy Kaling

Sometimes, the criticism has nothing to do with your overall looks — just basically who you are. For Kaling, this was the case when it came to trying to break into comedy as a woman.

Mindy Kaling

Along with having to combat chauvinism, she also had to deal with comments about her looks. Luckily, she has thick skin and is now one of Hollywood’s funniest women.

Reese Witherspoon

It’s hard to imagine anybody telling Reese Witherspoon anything negative about her looks. But, when she first broke into the industry, there was a lot of talk about her height and weight.

Reese Witherspoon

This caused her to have a lot of anxiety. Eventually, though, she worked her way out and silenced her critics. Now, she’s among the world’s highest-paid actresses. Aside from that, though, she’s also a producer and writer — among many other titles.

Minka Kelly

Many young actresses are given the advice to get some work done. Though these criticisms and advice may be well-meaning, it’s also very damaging and not necessary, especially if you’re Minka Kelly.

Minka Kelly

This stunning actress, who has made quite the name for herself, was actually told that she needed to have some enhancements done so that she could be what Hollywood was looking for. She didn’t listen, yet she still managed to make it to the top of her field.

Sarah Jessica Parker

While her looks are unconventional according to Hollywood beauty standards, Sarah Jessica Parker is the epitome of stylish and chic. While her looks have been the subject of ridicule over the years, it hasn’t stopped SJP from becoming one of the entertainment industry’s biggest stars.

Sarah Jessica Parker

Not only has she been praised for her performances as an actress, but for her appearance as well. Recently, her skin and natural glow have been in focus on social media. In several interviews, the 56-year-old actress has shared her best tips for getting the same glow.

Selena Gomez

Criticism can sometimes stem from someone that’s trying to be mean, perhaps out of jealousy. When famous designer Stefano Gabbana let the world of Instagram know his opinion of Selena Gomez, it turned into an opportunity for her to rise above.

Selena Gomez

Commenting on a collage of Gomez, the fashion designer called the actress ugly. Rather than letting this faze her, though, Gomez snapped back by wearing a sparkling “ugly” hair clip during New York Fashion Week.

Taylor Lautner

Much of the criticism when it comes to looks is undoubtedly geared towards women — or at least that’s what most people think. But, the guys get just as much criticism when dealing with appearance.

Taylor Lautner

Many find Taylor Lautner very attractive, but he was told that he was too small and needed to bulk up for his role in Twilight. While he’s naturally smaller in stature, Lautner stuck to a strict — and healthy — routine to reach his goals and gains.

Viola Davis

Viola Davis is not only a talented stage actor but she has also starred in a hit TV show — not to mention that she’s been in several top-notch movies. Unfortunately, like others on this list, the actress has been criticized her entire career for not being “classically beautiful.”

Viola Davis

Though she’s heard this criticism repeatedly, the actress learned to ignore it and has (unsurprisingly) been able to find her place in the Hollywood ecosystem.

Winona Ryder

In the ’80s and ’90s, tons of people fell in love with Winona Ryder. But, if she had let the critics convince her that she wasn’t pretty enough for Hollywood, many of those young men and women would not have had this childhood crush plastered on their walls. It was impressive that, even from a young age, Ryder understood her self-worth and was able to stand up to these critics.

Winona Ryder

During an audition, Winona was told, “Listen, kid. You should not be an actress. You are not pretty enough. You should go back to where you came from and you should go to school. You don’t have it.” Fortunately, this didn’t crush then-teenage Winona, as her parents “had always instilled in me that it was way cooler to be an individual and to be unique and that you don’t want to blend in.”

Adele

Adele opens her mouth, and everyone else goes silent. Her songwriting capabilities and vocal chops make her one of the most talented vocalists of all time really. But, you’re bound to receive some pretty harsh criticism if you’re as iconic as she is.

Adele

Of course, though she’s been on a weight loss journey in recent years, Adele was a little curvier than many would have liked when she first started. So, of course, she got constant backlash about that.

Ronda Rousey

Let’s be real — most of us would assume that anyone who’s willing to criticize Ronda Rousey is pretty courageous. Not only is she an actress, but she’s also a decorated athlete when it comes to wrestling and MMA fighting.

Ronda Rousey

Though many would do anything to have her body, she was told at one point that she looked too masculine to move her career from the ring to the screen. Clearly, she didn’t pay attention and proved them wrong.

Whitney Cummings

Most people might not think that looks really matter when you’re thinking about comedy. But, unfortunately for women in the industry, their looks are still criticized and scrutinized. Whitney Cummings, a very talented comedian, was once told she wasn’t pretty enough and that all she’d ever be is the sidekick.

Whitney Cummings

Like many others on this list, she didn’t let this harsh backlash deter her from reaching new heights. In fact, she eventually wound up landing her own television show. So apparently, she wasn’t destined just to be the sidekick!

Gisele Bündchen

It definitely will shock some when they hear that supermodel Gisele Bündchen was once told she wasn’t pretty enough to be a model. Of course, the critics didn’t stop there — they went on to tell her exactly what was wrong, including the fact that her eyes were too small and her nose was a little too large.

Gisele Bündchen

Of course, this was when she was just a teenager, so clearly, she grew into her beauty. But even still, Gisele didn’t let this stop her, and she continued on to become one of the most well-known supermodels in the world.

Pink

When people think of ’90s pop-rock, one of the first musicians that come to mind is — you guessed it — Pink! Noted for her distinctive raspy voice and acrobatic stage presence, this talented vocalist has been dominating the charts for years now. She’s even been credited for breaking boundaries and pushing the envelope throughout her career.

Pink

Maybe she took this road because, at one point, she was told she wasn’t pretty enough to make it. So, with her rebellious heart and attitude, she decided that she wanted to be the voice for those who had been told the same thing.

Gigi Hadid

Gigi Hadid has walked the runways of fashion weeks across the globe, proving some of her earlier critics wrong. Before she made it big, Hadid had been rejected more than once because of her looks, and from the one show she wanted to be part of most — Victoria’s Secret.

Gigi Hadid

After auditioning for the gig twice and getting turned down, Hadid finally landed a spot during her third audition. In those early days, Hadid was told by various agencies in New York City that she was too big to be a mainstream model and that she needed to lose a lot of weight.

Maggie Gyllenhaal

The Gyllenhaal family is a Hollywood family that many people don’t know has been in the business for decades. Though we’re all pretty familiar with Jake and Maggie, their family has been in the business for quite a few years being that their mom is film producer and writer Naomi Foner, and their father is film director Stephen Gyllenhaal.

Maggie Gyllenhaal

So it might be shocking when one hears that Maggie got rejected several times for auditions for not being pretty enough. Instead of breaking down, she used that as motivation to make it to the top.

America Ferrera

It’s hard when you feel confident in yourself and decide to enter into a career that wants to break that confidence down. When she first made her way to Hollywood, America Ferrera didn’t realize that there was anything wrong with her — and there wasn’t.

America Ferrera

So, when the casting director started telling her she was overweight, she had to come up with a new plan of attack. She did that by staying true to herself and choosing roles that were right for her.

Jonah Hill

When Jonah Hill started to break into the Hollywood upper echelon, he was typecast as the funny sidekick in many different movies. But, that often let him down when it came to his more dramatic portrayals.

Jonah Hill

He didn’t let that stop him, though, and he continued on. Eventually, he was nominated for an Oscar not once but twice. It just goes to show you that beauty standards for men and women don’t dictate success.

Priyanka Chopra

Priyanka Chopra is not only a talented actress but former Miss India — which is why when she came to Hollywood, it was shocking that someone suggested she needed some work done. We guess this shows that beauty standards differ depending on where you’re from.

Priyanka Chopra

However, Priyanka clearly has a lot of self-confidence and decided not to take the advice, which seemed to work out pretty well for her.

Jennifer Lopez

Today, women all over the globe strive to have a beautiful body like Jennifer Lopez. But, when she first started to break into the field, her curvy body wasn’t necessarily what Hollywood was looking for.

Jennifer Lopez

In fact, she was often told that she needed to lose weight, and in response, she simply said that “I don’t have to make anybody happy but myself.” It seems to have worked out for her because now she’s not only a top-grossing musical performer but also a well-known actress.

Kate Beckinsale

Not often does a criticism about one’s looks lead to you getting the role in Hollywood, we would imagine. But for Kate Beckinsale, when she was auditioning for Pearl Harbor, this is exactly what landed her the role.

Kate Beckinsale

The director said she wasn’t too attractive and that the female audience would be happy to watch her. That being said, Kate didn’t let it bother her, and she went on to turn that role into a lot of great momentum for her career.

Megan Fox

Sometimes, the criticism turns into control, which can be just as bad for a woman’s self-confidence. When she got hired for Transformers, Megan Fox was told she would be fired if she even gained 10 pounds.

Megan Fox

Even still, with the directors wanting their actresses to fit the role in their mind, this is wrong. Megan has become pretty successful — despite all of this pressure and criticism.

Amy Schumer

Hollywood has a definite idea of what body type is considered voluptuous and beautiful. Sometimes, the critics and other forces inside the entertainment field can be pretty harsh when you don’t fit in… like they were with Amy Schumer.

Amy Schumer

And it doesn’t matter if you’ve authored a bestselling book or have had a successful movie — they will still criticize you. But, if you’re Amy Schumer, you laugh it off and keep moving on because you know where your next paycheck is coming from.

Misty Copeland

The truth is, even if you’re an entertainer that’s breaking down barriers, there will always be someone out there that’s ready to criticize you. This is especially the case if you’re in a field where you’re not what everybody is used to seeing, like Misty Copeland is in the ballet arena.

Misty Copeland

Criticized for her fuller figure when it comes to ballerinas, Misty simply shrugs it off and just keeps going. She wants to show other little girls that it doesn’t matter what you look like — if this is your passion, you can do it!

Margot Robbie

It seems silly to even think about someone telling Margot Robbie she isn’t pretty enough to be in anything. But, even this stunning star has had her fair share of criticism in the past.

Margot Robbie

Of course, her laid-back attitude and high levels of self-confidence have allowed her to overcome any negative criticisms when it comes to her looks and carve out a spectacular career for herself.

Andrew Garfield

There’s a lot of pressure put on the female celebrities of Hollywood, so much so that we often forget that the guys are objectified too. Andrew Garfield, who played Spiderman, was actually told one time that he just wasn’t attractive enough.

Andrew Garfield

But, that’s okay because had he not gotten rejected from one role, Garfield would have missed out on Spiderman.

Ashley Greene

It takes a lot of courage to look at someone when you’re trying to audition for a role and tell them that you’re not going to do what they’re asking you to do. So, we had to give Ashley Greene a big standing ovation when someone told her she needed to lose weight, and she simply said “No, thank you.”

Ashley Greene

Her attitude is perfect, which could be something that young actresses should emulate. After all, she says, “Someone will always think you’re too thin or too fat, so you just have to be OK with who you are and use your talent to get where you want to go.”

Gina Rodriguez

It’s one thing to criticize someone for their weight or height (which is still not right), but this becomes a much bigger problem when you start bringing in their ethnicity. Unfortunately, actress Gina Rodriguez has had to deal with that.

Gina Rodriguez

Not only was she told she needed to lose weight and that she wasn’t tall enough, but also that she just wasn’t ethnic enough. Still, she took all those criticisms and threw them in the garbage and landed herself a hit television show.

Henry Cavill

Henry Cavill is not only one of the biggest names right now because of his hit Netflix show The Witcher but has also played Superman. Even he has been told that he needed to meet these unrealistic standards of Hollywood more than a few times.

Henry Cavill

When auditioning to be the next Bond, the casting director actually told him he was too heavy for the role. We don’t know about you, but he doesn’t look too bulky to us!

Jameela Jamil

It must be hard when you take a successful career from one country and come to another. But, then to get told that you’re just not right for the beauty standards in this new country?! Well, Jameela Jamil experienced justs that.

Jameela Jamil

When she arrived in Hollywood, she was told that she was a little too curvy and definitely too ethnic to succeed. This funny woman ignored those insults and wound up finding herself on a hit television show.