This is a definitive ranking of celebrity glow-ups, and you aren’t allowed to disagree with me
Some of these ‘before’ photos had me gagging, but then I remembered even ugly celebrities are way richer than me
by Una Dabiero
We all love a good glow-up. A strong underdog story. A tale of an ugly, ugly girl with severe issues blossoming into a beautiful goddess because of love or determined self-worth or a really great plastic surgeon. Think about it. Clueless, The Princess Diaries, Legally Blonde, Cinderella. The best tales of our time are stories of the glow-up.
But celebrity glow-ups are the best of them all. They're real people whose experiences prove we don't need a fairy godmother or a crazy work ethic to transform. We just need fuck tons of money. But maybe more importantly, celebrity glow-ups also remind us the most holy people we look up to were once ugly commoners like us.
But what is the best celeb glow-up of all? Here's my definitive ranking. And don't you dare question me. I basically got a degree in pop culture.
18. Taylor glowed up…but then she glowed down
Taylor started out an awkward teen, grew up to be a beautiful Grammy-clenching queen, then decided she didn't give a fuck what anyone thought of her, got thicc, and started wearing velvet basketball shorts on stage.
17. Kim Kardashian
Kim was basically always hot because of her good Kris genes, so I don't give her tons of credit for a glow-up. I WILL say Kim definitely went through some tough years, but that's what gives her a sparkling personality, OK? Kim would be there for you if you cried. Just saying.
16. Ariana Grande
Ariana has come a long way since she was an unnatural-shade-of-red redhead singing back-up for Victoria Justice. But she's always been adorable and really, all she did was some minor reconstructive surgery. Yeah, skinny bitch, I see you! Much love, though. "Into You" is my anthem.
Rihanna was a rough-ass looking teenager, but weren't we all? She has also definitely stepped up her aesthetic since coming into to stardom in the early 2000s. But her style has really rolled with the times — everyone looked ugly then — so I know deep-down this glow-up isn't the most impressive thing ever. Rihanna was always going to be hot. It took no effort. Still, she's society's sexy queen, and she gets props for that.
14. Blake Lively
Blake has always been pretty. But her nose job(s) took her from cute girl on the red carpet to Twitter's professed #goals. Blake is now a beauty icon because of her snatched bridge, and most people don't even realize it's fake. You can actually know exactly which season of Gossip Girl a freeze-frame is from based on which edition of nose Blake Lively is sporting at the time. The ubiquitousness of her post-glow-up beauty earns her a tip-top spot on our list.
13. Dove Cameron
Dove got some major work done that took her from "cute girl I babysat in 10th grade" to "holy shit I would take a bullet for you." The end product is soooo fucking good, she deserves a top 15 spot.
12. Kendall Jenner
In 10 years of KUWTK, Kendall went from gangly-ass 12-year-old to legit supermodel. She used to over-pluck her eyebrows, wear pants that were way too long for her, and rock braces on NATIONAL TV. But look at her now. Honestly, she was always destined to be gorg, but the fact that we all watched her glow-up makes it special in some way. Her sacrifice of her self-image in the name of good reality TV puts her at the top of my list.
11. Dylan and Cole Sprouse
Dylan and Cole went through an entire series of glow-ups. First, they went from literal babies to tween icons as the stars of Suite Life.
Then, they went from tweens to teens on Suite Life on Deck.
But the real miracle occurred post-Disney to Riverdale, when they got tan and dark-haired and gorgeous.
They are true masters of the repeat glow-up, and for that they have earned my respect… and the #11 spot.
10. Khloe Kardashian
Khloe's glow-up was the talk of basically every tabloid ever, and for good reason. Homegirl lost a ton of weight — and definitely had a plastic surgeon pull some stuff tighter — but the end product is amazing. Khloe says she feels healthier in body and mind, and that's definitely the best kind of glow-up: one that starts inside :')
9. Nick Jonas
Nick Jonas is now the most fuckable of the Jonas Brothers, but he definitely didn't start off that way. He used to be the nerdy, curly-haired cute boy that every girl with puppy posters all over her room had a massive crush on. If you were into hot bad boys, you were into Joe. If you were into girls, you pretended to like Kevin. But Nick has become a bad boy in his own right. Now he has muscles and short hair and a newly-constructed nose. And it looks gooood. Nick could knock me up any day, no questions asked.
8. Gucci Mane
I had 0 idea about this one until I did a hearty amount of research for this article, but Gucci Mane has changed a lot. He used to be a lil pudgy and he really didn't know how to dress. But now, Gucci is a cultural icon who can somehow pull off the intellectual, fake glasses look. Plus, his Twitter is more inspirational than a televised mega-church sermon. Kanye Whomst??
7. Cardi B
Before Bodak Yellow, Cardi B looked pretty rough. She's the first to say her glow-up included a full set of teeth and some surgery, and it's honestly inspiring that she's so open about being previously bugly. But really, Cardi B's most inspiring glow-up might be her career. She went from a stripper to a Vine star to Love & Hip Hop to Billboard's #1, but more importantly, she got to dance around with a cheetah in a music video. Rich people goal #1, right there.
6. Zac Efron
Zac Efron, who, against our best judgement, every single one of us has had a crush on, wasn't always hot. He had a massive gap and a bad haircut and really over-plucked eyebrows. But guess what? Middle school you still loved him. And now, he has grown into a man older you can love too. And that's the best glow-up of all: One that is meticulously timed with the glow-up of your biggest crush. Not that, you know, I have any experience with anyone liking me. But I'd imagine it'd be nice.
5. Bella Hadid
Being a supermodel, Bella Hadid is literally paid to look pretty. But that probably wouldn't have been possible without her major glow-up. Her transformation from California farm girl to the face of multi-billion beauty dollar brands is truly iconic. That's why she deserves #5. Also, because I want her nose. And her lips. Well really, just give me all of it.
4. Josh Peck
Josh Peck's mysterious transformation into a total snack was the center of the news cycle for at least a few days. He is a glow-up icon, made even more important by the hope he instilled in those of us who were fat as teens. And with the way he puts Drake Bell in his place, how could I not give Josh #4? I even wish I looked like him and I'm a whole-ass woman.
3. Matthew Lewis
Matthew Lewis, who played Neville Longbottom in that annoying wizard franchise your local Facebook friends are still talking about, is literally only famous for his glow-up. And no wonder. He went from looking like the scary boy at school who Naruto-ran from the cafeteria to looking like any other hot, white actor. Living the dream, truly.
2. Kylie Jenner
Everyone knows Kylie Jenner, usually because of her thicc lips or her perfectly-sculpted hourglass figure. Behind only her sister Kim, she is arguably the sex icon of our generation. But we all know she definitely didn't start out like this. She claims her body's real, but her trademark lips definitely aren't. She had one of the most successful glow-ups of our time, if not the most drastic, and she deserves major credit for that. Or the doctors who created her like Frankenstein's hot monster deserve credit. Actually, Kris deserves all the credit for that. Lord knows she was the mastermind behind the Kylie brand, right down to every lip injection pin-prick. Kris is the mind of the century. No, the millennia. Albert Einstein found dead in ditch!
1. Nicki Minaj
Nicki is the queen of rap, but she's also the queen of the glow-up. I think these photos serve as all the evidence I need. She went from looking like a spoon with two google-y eyes glued to it to a full-blown sex icon. She knows the real definition of struggle. No wonder she's always telling kids to stay in school. Her dreams weren't even possible until she had a full facial lift. Just saying.