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Don't go changing, to try and please meI'll take you just the way you are
You never let me down before
Don't imagine you're too familiar
And I don't see you anymore
I wouldn't leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I'll take the bad times
When I see your face, there's not a thing that I would change'Cause girl, you're amazing, just the way you are
'Cause you're amazing, just the way you are
And when you smile, the whole world stops and stares for a while
—Bruno Mars, "Just The Way You Are"
If a TV character wants cosmetic surgery, they will be inevitably convinced by the end of the episode that they're beautiful Just The Way They Are and the audience gets An Aesop about loving yourself.
- Cruelly applied in the Detective Conan manga. A murder case sees a woman murdering her ex boyfriend over suspected jealousy. After the investigation, it is revealed that the boyfriend ignored the woman after her plastic surgery, but is actually in no way cheating. A post-murder confession from his best (female) friend reveals he's just waiting for the woman to realize that she's beautiful Just the Way You Are by herself, which promptly breaks her down.
- In a similar case, an Idol Singer is murdered by a scorned ex-girlfriend, who dumped her because he turned psychologically abusive to her after she had a nose job. It turns out that not only he liked her better when she was just a sweet Girl Next Door, but the woman had specifically gotten plastic surgery to please him, which he could never forgive her and himself for.
Victim (in a flashback, talking to an old friend of both him and the killer): Can you imagine it? She altered her face for me! I never asked her for anything like that! Why did she change herself just to please me...?
- You would think the girl would get a hint when he made her sing Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.
- As far as manga goes, the popularity of Kimi ni Todoke can be attributed to its mastery of this trope. Whereas lesser stories would make the protagonist get a Beautiful All Along makeover or some such thing, Todoke has Sawako Kuronuma, whose unique appearance actually catches the eye of the school's most desirable guy. Bonus points for him being made of "100% niceness," too.
- Plastic surgeon Bill Pullman convinces Bridget Fonda she doesn't need a boob job in Singles. Just to give your Willing Suspension of Disbelief a good workout. (To be clear, the snark here was directed at plastic surgeons, not Fonda.)
- Subverted in 2012. Both the recipient of and the plastic surgeon who performed a boob job chat about and completely agree that she would've been better off without the surgery.
- Rather touchingly played straight in Bridget Jones's Diary, when Mark Darcy tells her he likes her "Just as she is".
- Played straight the very first Arthur book, Arthur's Nose.
- Harry on Empty Nest spends an episode talking a young female patient (played by Mayim Bialik of Blossom, who was well-known in Real Life for her large nose) out of having rhinoplasty. She finally decides against in after speaking with a woman who has had tons of plastic surgery and is not any happier with herself.
- Brian on Wings becomes obsessed with a bump on his nose after a plastic surgeon points it out. He eventually plans to have his face overhauled until his brother Joe points out how much his various feature resemble those of several deceased relatives.
- In a refreshing change, Hawkeye and Trapper in an early episode of MASH actually give a soldier who wants it a nose-job (after a token attempt to talk him out of it), but in a later episode BJ refuses to perform blepharoplasty (eyelid lift) on an Asian boy because he's fine Just The Way He Is.
- This might have been (in part) because the Korean boy wants the eye lift to "look more American." BJ, quite disillusioned with the state of the world by this point, wants the boy to see that Americans aren't better than Koreans.
- This is, of course, exactly the opposite of how it works on Nip Tuck.
- Rather cynically played with (perhaps an outright deconstruction) in a second-season episode of Veronica Mars, where in an attempt to investigate a plastic surgeon's possible gang connections, Veronica (played by Kristen Bell, people) starts listing "flaws" that she wants fixed for her eighteenth birthday. (She doesn't have a large chest--which she of course starts with as "the obvious"--but it wouldn't work with her body type anyway.) The surgeon hands her a pamphlet that deals with body issues, saying he'd refuse to operate on her, and leaves his obvious. She immediately gets suspicious of him...and turns out to be right.
- Averted on Daves World, where Dave's friend Shel is an unrepentant plastic surgeon. During one episode, Shel's brother shows up unexpectedly at his office and convinces a potential patient of his with a Jimmy Durante nose that she's fine Just The Way She Is. Shel is, understandably, not pleased.
- Subverted in Malcolm in the Middle. Lois is told by her boss she needs to look more feminine and starts wearing heavy makeup. Everybody likes her more. She quits when someone mistakes her for a hooker. But played straight with her husband. The episode at first seems to play out that Hal is seemingly more attractive to Lois due to the make-up, but when she returned to normal, Hal is still turned on (if not because she briefly donned a plain ol' baseball cap).
- The entire "Born This Way" episode of Glee. Rachel breaks her nose, and decides to get a nose job. (Somehow, without parental consent?) The entire club takes sides, with nearly everyone on the "don't change how you look" side, and Quinn, interestingly, on Rachel's. Rachel, after 40 minutes of angsty singing, decides against a nose job, to the delight of her peers. Quinn, it is revealed, used to be overweight and had glasses, but now changed. However, this somehow works out for her, as people admire her for both being beatiful now and for being "herself" then. It's unclear what the message is for Quinn, as she still remains beautiful. One could argue that the message was for her to accept her old self, but that must be much easier looking the way she does now.
- In Community episodes Physical Education Abed's comfortable with himself as he is, and he's okay if others want to try to change that to discover this trope.
- Sarah in Raising Dad became insecure about her nose (it didn't help that her father and sister were constantly making fun of it) and opted to get a nose job, which her friends were all against. A popular girl (whom Sarah secretly wanted to be more like) supports her and says she's planning to get a lot more surgery done on herself. Sarah is shocked at this since she considers the girl to look fine and then decides against the nose job.
- Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are", the trope namer.
- As well as the Bruno Mars song with the same name.
- The song "Do Your Own Thing" from Raven of That's So Raven and Cheetah Girls fame.
- William Shatner's "I Want You to Be You" subverts this trope, describing a man talking about how he loves a woman just the way she is, right up until the point he doesn't.
- Kat from Gunnerkrigg Court once attempted to put on makeup to impress Aly, only to botch it horribly. When Annie offers to make her look better, she simply takes off her makeup and tells her that Aly likes her for who she was before she started putting it on.
- A subtle subversion in that Antimony is almost always wearing makeup and manages to avoid carrying on a conversation directly after this Cosmetic Catastrophe with Kat as to why Annie needs to wear it.
- The Cyclopean Leela on Futurama gets another eye, but after seeing a three-eared girl get teased, decides she was wonderful Just The Way She Was and reverts to normal.
- One Animaniacs short featuring Slappy Squirrel has her going to have plastic surgery, but after her old nemesis, Walter Wolf, tries to ruin things she sends him in for some instead and walks out saying she earned her wrinkles. Walter Wolf, however, is traumatized at the results of his surgery, claiming that no villain will take him seriously again.
- On Rudolph and the Island of Misfit Toys (2001), the cheesy CGI sequel to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Rudolph has the opportunity of getting a normal nose, but he learns...eh, you know by now.
- This happened twice on The Simpsons, to both Marge (breasts) and Moe (face) although both cases were sufficiently surreal and self-consciously bizarre to sort-of-avoid such direct moralizing as this trope implies.
- Moe never actually learns the Aesop, and indeed everyone around him treats him better due to his plastic surgery. The only reason he changes back at the end is because of a freak accident that hideously deforms his face, coincidentally changing it back to the way it once was.
- Marge's case is kind of strange too. She went in for liposuction, but due to a mix-up she ends up with the breast implants intended for the Mayor's latest arm candy. The doctor convinces her to try them out for a while, and she ends up becoming a model. After she saves Bart from an elephant by flashing a crowd of people, she decides to go back to normal.
- This is the moral of Tanya Mousekewitz's subplot in An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. She gets a makeover so she can sing at Waul's saloon, but after discovering Waul is actually evil and tried to kill every mouse in Green River, she remembers what her friend Miss Kitty told her, that the real woman is what's underneath the mask, and she washes her make-up off.
- Subverted on Family Guy in "He's Too Sexy For His Fat": Peter gets repeated rounds of plastic surgery, becoming so, uh...handsome?, that his reflection in the rearview mirror distracts him from driving a la Narcissus, causing him to run off the road and fall into a vat of lard which he
slowlyquickly drains accompanied by disgusting swallowing noises. Like the Simpsons example above, his face is returned to normal by the end of the episode.
Lois: Well, I guess you learned a valuable lesson.
- In an episode of Daria, Quinn opted to get plastic surgery to look as good as a fellow classmate. The titular character ends up stepping in and telling her sister she's perfect just the way she is. Of course, since this is Daria we're talking about, she told Quinn she'd deny saying it if anyone asked. She also managed to help her dodge a bullet since aforementioned classmate's plastic surgery was almost immediately revealed to have backfired and made her look even worse than before.