"I don't look like a lot of other people, you know what I mean?" Lea Michele told Harper's Bazaar in 2011.
Thanks to her role on the hit show Glee, the New York-born actress had become one of the biggest stars in America—despite her so-called "unconventional beauty."
"How many managers told me, 'Get a nose job. You're not pretty enough'? But I proved them wrong."
"I was one of the only girls in my high school that didn't get one," she revealed in a GQ interview. "And if anybody needed it, I probably did. But my mom always told me, growing up, 'Barbra Streisand didn't get a nose job. You're not getting a nose job.' And I didn't. Fuck those people."
Well, well, well. We haven't heard such an unequivocal denouncement of plastic surgery in the entire history of Before & Afters!
But the thing is, it doesn't add up. If we examine Lea's beauty evolution over the years, the photo evidence tells a different and contradictory story.
Take a look:
Lea in 2006
Before Glee thrust her into fame, Lea was making a name for herself on Broadway as a fresh-faced 20-year-old. This, we can safely assume, is her real nose. We can also see her naturally curly hair, which she always straightens now, and her very even, white teeth.
Lea in 2007
The following year, Lea looked very much the same. Well, except for the aggressively thinned-out eyebrows (as was the style back then!). Looking at her lips, I think we can safely take injections off the table, as they were always quite full.
Lea in 2009
As soon as Glee debuted, the glam team arrived! It's not the most sophisticated look, but it's a lot more polished, thanks to the eye makeup, big waves and fuller brows. This photo is at the same angle as the 2006 shot, and Lea's nose seems to match (although it's possible she had her first surgery done pre-Glee). It's interesting how simply strengthening the brows seems to balance her features!
Lea in 2010
And here's a front-on view of Lea's face; she was 24 here. I think we're still looking at her original nose (and everything else). The styling is really basic—this was before she started taking more risks with her hair and makeup!
Lea in 2011
This is when we start to see her becoming more of a beauty icon. These bangs are so perfect and adorable; if ever there was a "Life Cut" for Lea, it's this! And that brings me back to my point about balance. With the heavy fringe and black liquid liner, her nose doesn't seem "big" at all. (I still say it's her own, but it sure is hard to tell!)
Lea in 2012
By 2012, Lea had grown out the bangs (as well as her brows), and was experimenting with side-swept hair and orchid lipstick. Honestly, she looks great! Normally, I'm anti-false lashes, but I think they work in this case to draw the eye up.
Lea in 2013
Sometimes, the beauty experiments don't quite work out, and that's what I'm seeing here. Remember, these were the Cara Delevingne years, but not every face is meant for statement eyebrows... not to mention gelled roots!
From The Skincare Edit Archives
Lea in 2014
In 2014, Lea showed off a brand new look. The bangs came back, along with lots of waves (not seen since 2009) and sun-kissed highlights. I can recall saying at the time that she looked more gorgeous than ever, and I still stand by that! I'm just wondering, now, if there was more to it. If you're not sure what I'm getting at, it's definitely apparent in the next photo...
Lea in 2015
Are you seeing what I'm seeing? It sure does seem like Lea got herself a new nose, perhaps sometime after Glee finished filming and before her debut in Scream Queens. Her cheeks also look really sculpted, but that could be normal fat loss—she was 29 at this time. Hair-wise, we've still got the bangs but she's letting the highlights grow out.
It's funny, this barely looks like the same Lea Michele from just a few years ago! Either way, I love the playfulness of fuchsia lipstick and textured waves (with bangs pushed to one side).
Lea in 2016
Then, Lea really started favouring this type of hairstyle: super-straight and off the face, with a strong part. I don't know if cosmetic surgery had anything to do with her new beauty confidence, but I'm guessing it played a part! Her look here is very luxe and glamorous... I'm just wondering why her lower lip has suddenly lost volume. Usually, the opposite happens! Is she sucking it in?
By this time, Lea was 30. Shame about the colour mismatch between her white face and tanned body (a.k.a. "the Eagle") because I like this otherwise! The blue eyeshadow is fun with defined lashes and a sleek hairstyle (although I think her brow tails are over-tweezed). We can see her nose from the other side, and while she retained its original shape, it's less prominent overall.
Lea in 2017
Same beauty vibe, different event! Lea demonstrates a phenomenon I've noticed time and time again. The more famous you get, the better your beauty team—and the more bare the makeup! But with fresh details like this pink shadow (and no mascara at all!). From this angle, her new nose looks super-straight.
And one more for this hairstyle! (Told you she's loving it right now.) Everything is coming together beautifully here, from the perfectly shaped brows to the subtle makeup to the stylish choice of earrings. We can see a little bit of nose contouring, but that doesn't account for the newly petite tip.
Lea Michele Before and After
"I'm proud to be on a positive show and to be a voice for girls and say, 'You don't need to look like everybody else. Love who you are.'"
That was Lea's narrative back in 2010—and you know what? I'll buy that she was being truthful about not having plastic surgery. At the time.
However, since Glee wrapped in 2015, it appears she has changed her tune. This is one Before & After where the evidence of rhinoplasty surgery couldn't be more clear.
And there's no way it's Photoshop, as she suggested to People in 2016. "When people change my nose it's very clear to me. I'm like 'That's not my nose!' But they don't do it that often with me—I mean, I've seen situations with other celebrities where it's aggressive how much things get retouched or photoshopped. What I think fans love to see about me is what I really look like and so magazines sometimes give people what they want with me. They're like, 'Ehh we'll just leave her as she is.'"
I, for one, am not buying this—it's like Ellie Goulding all over again!
Not that there's anything wrong with changing your mind about plastic surgery, of course. It's just hard to swallow these "be who you are" messages when celebs turn around and alter their appearance the first chance they get! No wonder there's been a sharp rise in young people seeking cosmetic surgery.
How do you feel about Lea's beauty evolution?
Which of these looks is your favourite?
What "beauty work" do you think she's had done?