Better known as the "Daria-gets-a-makeover" story. One of the most enduring tropes of Daria fanfiction has been the subject of Daria Morgendorffer disposing of her antisocial, anti-romantic ways by getting a makeover to become more attractive to guys. Sometimes she does this willingly, if hesitantly, and sometimes she is dragged into it kicking and screaming. This trope is most commonly seen in shippers and comedies. It has become a cliche known to almost everyone and is often parodied (see "The Revised Daria Fanfic Cliché Drinking Game" by Aaron Solomon (ben Saul Joseph) Adelman and David Hines).
Daria and the Makeover Issue in Canon
The idea that Daria 'needs work' to meet conventional beauty standards is brought up by characters in several episodes. It appears most explicitly in "Too Cute" (Dr. Shar offering to make her look like Quinn and a guy considering her an "emergency" for plastic surgey), "I Don't" (the bridesmaid's dress fitting), and "I Loathe a Parade" (attempted makeover by the Fashion Club). Quinn takes the view: in "Through a Lens Darkly", she offers to "help" and asks "when did you first begin to suspect that your outfit sucked?" In all cases, these characters are antagonists to be disliked and laughed at.
In "Lens Darkly", Helen pushes for Daria to have contacts instead of glasses out of the belief this will improve her social life ("instead of seeing your glasses and jumping to some moronic conclusion based on ridiculous stereotypes and their own ignorance"). When Daria does wear contacts, everal other characters respond positively but see it as a sign of Daria conforming rather than her looks.
Daria's own ideas of what constitutes a makeover are simple in comparison (pink lipstick in "Road Worrier" and a belly-button piercing in "Pierce Me"). Her bathroom cabinet at home contains no cosmetics, only her toothbrush, per The Daria Database, and her closet is sometimes shown in MTV artwork as having only extra boots, green jackets, black skirts, etc. Daria did give herself a brief Quinn-ish makeover at the end of "Quinn the Brain", showing that she could dress this way if she tried, but it's only as a means to an end; the makeover was swiftly dumped afterward. Her greatest act of wardrobe change was to simply wear contacts in "Lens Darkly".
Daria's canon attitude about her looks has only come up once or twice. She puts on minor lipstick in "Road Worrier" to get Trent to notice her, implying she felt she had to, but she didn't want Jane to realise. In "Lens Darkly", we get a full episode on the subject. Here, Daria does briefly think (after a comment from Trent) that she might look better with contact lenses than glasses, but spends most of the episode worried that by wearing contacts, she's showing "sheer vanity" and a concern about how other people see her: both things she doesn't want to believe she's interested in, and indeed rejects the idea of how other people see her by the end of it. Basically, she could dress differently and have makeovers, but "to hell with them and what they think of you and your glasses."
Makeovers and Other Characters
Other Daria characters get makeovers in canon (especially Quinn and the Fashion Club), but it is hardly notable as it happens so often ("Pinch Sitter," "Pierce Me," "Just Add Water," etc.). One expects the foursome to get makeovers; their looks change frequently to encompass any situation (see "Road Worrier," "The Daria Hunter," "Fair Enough," and "I Loathe a Parade"). Helen gets a less-than-successful Fashion Club makeover in "Of Human Bonding" and a better one (with Quinn) in "Pierce Me." Jane Lane gives herself a rather successful makeover in "The F Word" (successful in the sense that it makes her more popular), but she ultimately rejects it.
Makeovers and Fanfiction
As noted earlier, a makeover is often seen as necessary in order for Daria to become popular, specifically to attract a boyfriend, which she generally attempts to avoid. In older fanfiction, Trent Lane is usually the person for whom she is being made over, and the makeover is nearly always successful. The basic idea is that Daria is more beautiful than she thinks (see the overused trope "Daria is a supermodel"). This mass-media trope is often called "Hollywood ugly." In Daria's case, a makeover often requires she complete the aborted transformation begun in "Through a Lens Darkly" with the removal of her manstopper glasses and a few other changes.
Notable Daria-Gets-a-Makeover Fanfics
It will be noted that the makeover theme has been tweaked a number of times to add original (if bizarre) circumstances, as noted below in parentheses.
- "An Angel Named Mary Sue," by Angelinhel (Daria gets supernatural encouragement for a makeover)
- "And When Your Heart Begins to Bleed," by TAG (Daria's makeover makes her less attractive)
- "Bed and Breakfast Man: Giant Saturday" (Chapter 24), by Ruthless Bunny (the most thorough Quinn-managed makeover of Daria ever, including bra choices)
- "Brainwashed," by Wouter (Daria is forced to get cosmetic surgery at a "beauty farm")
- "Daria Strikes Back," by WWMyra
- "Daria's Cheap Makeover," by KewlDaria
- "Daria's New Look," by Stevenie Ellis
- "The DF Continuum: Visitation," Chapter 8, by Steven Galloway (Daria and Jane get made over in their sleep)
- "Hostile Makeover," by Courtney Wells
- "Makeover," by Lawndale Stalker (Daria gets a makeover after... nah, won't ruin it, it's too evil)
- "The Other Side of Time: Been Here Before," by The Sidhe (Daria gets a makeover for a guy from an alternate universe)
- "The Prom," by Jeff Cuscutis
- "Rebooting," by Wyvern337 (perhaps the most in-character Daria makeover out there)
- "Retrograde Girl," by Nemo Blank (Daria gets a makeover while she has amnesia)