Reality TV Stars You Wouldn't Recognize Today

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No matter how addicted you may be to reality TV, sometimes it's hard to recognize a reality star after they've spent time away from the spotlight. It's easy to forget that these famous faces were normal people before their small-screen debuts — like Kelly Clarkson, an aspiring backup singer who only tried out for American Idol because she thought it would pay her electric bill, or Carly Waddell, who was just another all-American girl hoping to find love on The Bachelor.

Everyone looks a little different after their Hollywood makeovers, but the following reality stars look like completely different people — and it's not always for the best. Whether they ramped up their style for the red carpet, found true happiness with their authentic selves, or became a little too familiar with the inside of the plastic surgeon's office, you won't recognize these reality TV stars today.

Mama June is half the reality star she used to be

Most of us remember Mama June (aka June Shannon) a little bit differently from her days on TLC's Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Starring this quirky mother and her Mountain Dew-guzzling beauty pageant daughter from Toddlers and Tiaras, the series was abruptly cancelled in 2014 amid major controversy. 

According to TMZ, the network nixed the show after reports surfaced that Mama June was secretly dating registered sex offender Mark McDaniel, who served prison time for molesting Anna Cardwell, one of Shannon's daughters. Cardwell was allegedly just 8 years old at the time of the "horrific abuse," reported Radar Online. This clearly wasn't a good look for Mama June, who denied dating McDaniel and claimed she only met with him on two occasions because she felt sorry for him.

Fast forward to 2017 and Mama June was back in the reality TV spotlight — but she looked a whole lot different. The mother of four lost a whopping 300 pounds and slimmed down to a teeny-tiny size four for her new reality show Mama June: From Not to Hot. Since her comeback, the reality star has managed to keep off the weight, which she initially lost through a series of surgeries. Her secret? The not exactly doctor-approved method of skipping breakfast, sleeping until 1 p.m., and indulging in plenty of Little Debbie jelly cakes as a cheat snack.

Snooki steps from the Jersey Shore to the red carpet

Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi has come a long way since her humble (and pretty drunken) beginnings on MTV's Jersey Shore. The pint-sized reality star spent the better part of the series pounding shots, tearing up the dance floor, and fielding fist fights with her castmates. Her style consisted primarily of bedazzled tank tops and skirts so short that her nether regions were centimeters away from Jersey Turnpike-ing out of her underwear and declaring their independence. In fact, this was the crux of an explosive argument she had with then-boyfriend Jionni LaValle in Season 5. Her beloved gorilla juicehead wasn't thrilled with his girlfriend exposing herself in an Italian nightclub.

Since the cast left the shore house in 2012 (and was permanently banned from Seaside Heights, N.J.), Snooks has come a long way. According to CBS News, she's become a New York Times best-selling author, the wife of LaValle, and the mother of two adorable children. Against all odds, the busy mom has also adopted a clean-eating lifestyle and rigorous fitness regimen that helped her lose 42 pounds after her first pregnancy.

"I knew I couldn't party anymore, because now I'm a parent; I have to take care of someone else," she said on the Today show (via E! News). "So the partying's done, basically ... But it was more about getting in shape and being a fit mom."

Needless to say, the self-proclaimed meatball is looking like nothing of the sort these days.

Jwoww goes full glam

During her tenure on MTV's Jersey Shore, JWoww (Jenni Farley) became Snooki's lifelong BFF. It's hard to tell member of this dynamic duo should snag the superlative of "Most Changed Since Season 1," but JWoww certainly gives Snooki a run for her money.

Much like her bestie and Snooki & JWoww co-star, Jenni has chilled out since leaving the hard-partying summer home. She was pregnant at the same time as Snooks and has since had two children with her husband, Roger Mathews. She even launched a web series with Snooki called Moms with Attitude.

It's not just her new lifestyle that makes the thirty-something reality star almost unrecognizable. Her face is undeniably different — something she claims has nothing to do with plastic surgery. JWoww did admit to getting a second boob job in 2015, and many have speculated the star has had Botox, particularly because she has said she's all for the procedure. 

Though JWoww already looks like a new woman, we can expect even more changes in the future because she's been open about plans to potentially go under the knife as she continues to age. "I'm not getting any younger," she told Entertainment Tonight in 2016. " I'm going to do the non-invasive surgeries and things like that to stay youthful so I don't, when I'm like 50, 60, 70, have to do the more dramatic ones." 

Kelly Clarkson doesn't care what you think about her weight

Most of us don't even remember that the pop singing powerhouse Kelly Clarkson was once a humble reality TV show contestant. In 2002, the singer was catapulted into fame when she won the very first season of American Idol. Her first album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and Clarkson went on to garner more Grammy wins and nominations in the best pop vocal album category than any other artist.

However, her professional success has been plagued by a massive struggle with weight. The Kelly Clarkson that had her TV debut in 2002 and starred in the iconic rom-com flop From Justin to Kelly was a fraction of her current size, but that didn't mean she was happy. "When I was really skinny, I wanted to kill myself," she British magazine Attitude (via the Los Angeles Times).

Though pop stars are notoriously pressured to stay thin, Clarkson has undeniably transformed from a reality star to a full-fledged pop icon, and singer isn't really sweating what the tabloids say anymore. "It's when I'm fat that I'm happy. People think, 'Oh, there's something wrong with her. She's putting on weight.' I'm like, 'Oh, no! I'm sorry, but that represents happiness in my emotional world,'" she told Redbook (via E! News). "For me, when I'm skinny is usually when I'm not doing well."

Kelly Osbourne: goth teen to lavender bombshell

Kelly Osbourne got her reality TV start alongside her rock-n-roll parents when she was 17 years old and starring on the hit MTV show The Osbournes. The series, which aired for three years, smashed TV records in 2002 when it became the most-watched program on the cable network. Though it lost its title years later to Jersey Shore, Kelly's career flourished — but she was drowning.

According to People, the teen had been struggling with drug addiction since she first encountered liquid vicodin after getting her tonsils removed at age 13. Kelly admitted that her drug use was the worst during her mother's battle with cancer and her father's 2003 ATV accident. It was only when she was committed to a mental health facility that she experienced a major wake-up call. 

"Mum once locked me in a mental institution for three days, and it scared the hell out of me... " she wrote in her memoir There is No F*cking Secret: Letters From a Badass B*tch (via People) "I wasn't suicidal by medical standards, but I heard Mum's message loud and clear: stop using drugs before I was gone for good."

Since then, Osbourne has turned her life around and looks like a completely new person. She traded her goth wardrobe and harsh black hair for high fashion and soft lavender locks. During her busy career as a TV host on shows such as Fashion Police and The Real, she dropped 50 pounds and says she looks and feels more fabulous than ever.

Heidi Montag spends a lot of time under the knife

During her days on The HillsHeidi Montag was a fresh-faced, natural California beauty. The sun-kissed reality star rose to infamy after her TV boyfriend, Spencer Pratt, cast himself as the villain of the MTV series and wedged a divide between Montag and her BFF Lauren Conrad. This led to the iconic episode where Conrad utters the cold phrase that rocked the mid-aughts: "I want to forgive you and I want to forget you."

Since then, the world has not forgotten Montag but fans may not recognize this California girl thanks to a litany of plastic surgery. According to Extra, Heidi underwent a shocking 10 cosmetic procedures in a single day in 2009, including a chin reduction that now causes her chronic pain. That same year, she also married Pratt and they embarked on a lavish lifestyle together that led to financial ruin.

"I was in way over my head with the surgeries," she told People. "I had no idea what I was getting into or that it was a lifelong commitment. It was very challenging, both physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, on my husband and on our lives." 

Heidi has since removed her size F implants, worked to regain financial stability, and tried to learn from her past. "I don't want to say I regret it 100 percent because I've tried to grow from it," she told People. In 2017, she and Spencer welcomed their first child, a son named Gunner Stone.

Teen Mom Farrah Abraham catches the plastic surgery bug

Farrah Abraham had one of the most tragic backstories in the original 16 & Pregnant. Her ex-partner, Derek Underwood, died in a car accident two months before she gave birth to daughter Sophia. Abraham has come a long way since that difficult first season. She's transitioned from a reality TV star with a brief stint in rehab to an adult entertainer with an adult toy line. And thanks to her newfound obsession with plastic surgery, the starlet looks almost nothing like her teenage self.

Abraham was known for her temper and natural beauty on both 16 & Pregnant and the Teen Mom spin-off series. She even got an adorably dorky set of braces in 2011. This was all before Abraham caught the cosmetic surgery bug. According to The Huffington Post, she kicked it off with breast implants, then moved to chin implants and a rhinoplasty in 2012. The surgeries cost her about $16,000 — a small price to pay when you're about to star in your first adult film: Farrah Superstar: Backdoor Teen Mom. Since then, the reality star has reportedly had three breast augmentations, vaginal rejuvenation surgeries, and some near-fatal botched lip fillers

Abraham hasn't stopped there — at least according to the rumor mill. After her supposed second vaginal rejuvenation procedure, the starlet allegedly expressed interest in a fourth boob job, butt implants, and lipo-sculpting.

Bruce Jenner transforms into Caitlyn

Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner was a world-renowned sports icon before stepping foot in the reality TV world as a husband and father in E!'s s mega-hit Keeping up with the Kardashians. The TV series also wound up documenting his brave transition into Caitlyn Jenner — an identity debuted in a high-profile Vanity Fair cover story and photo spread in July 2015.

In her memoir, Jenner fondly described her former self as "a well–meaning but slightly doddering patriarch who has no life of his own and is subsumed by the women who surround him." Post-transition, Caitlyn had the opportunity to finally be the star of her own narrative. For two seasons, she led the reality show I Am Cait, which documented her life as a transgender woman in the spotlight, and she's no longer a regular part of KUWTK.

Though Jenner is overjoyed at the opportunity to live life as her true self, she still holds her former identity close. "I had a life for 65 years. OK?" she told The Guardian. "I liked Bruce. He was a good person. He did a lot in his life. Oh, 'he didn't even exist'. Yes he did exist! He worked his butt off. He won the [Olympic] Games. He raised amazing kids. He did a lot of very, very good things and it's not like I just want to throw that away."

Kylie Jenner shifts from awkward teen to sexy mama

Kylie Jenner made her TV debut when she was just 10 years old, appearing alongside her parents and siblings on Keeping up with the Kardashians. The starlet has spent more than a decade in the spotlight with cameras filming her every move — though she somehow managed to hide an entire pregnancy from the press, so props to her.

Today, Jenner looks a whole lot different than she did in the show's first season — and it's due to a lot more than just puberty. In 2014, she emerged on the red carpet with an entirely different look. Her long locks were chopped into a blue ombre bob and her lips were noticeably plump. Though the starlet denied having lip fillers and claimed she was merely overlining her lips with makeup, she eventually admitted the rumors were true. She even acknowledged that she went a little bit overboard when she was new to the procedure.

"I still do Juvéderm for my lips. I go to Dr. Ourian in Beverly Hills. He's the best, and he's super natural about it," she told The New York Times. "I was going to somebody before, and it was just looking crazy."

Jenner has been subject to numerous plastic surgery rumors because of her changing looks — everything from boob jobs to cheek and jaw reconstruction. She has denied them all and managed to launch a booming cosmetics company that flourished, in large part, due to her plumped-up pout. 

Chip Gaines shaves his head for charity, looks like a different dude

HGTV fans were gutted to find out that Fixer Upper was ending after Season 5. For nearly six years, the adorably rugged Chip Gaines and his sassy wife, Joanna, worked their way into our perfectly renovated, DIY hearts. The couple had been charitable on the show in the past, renovating homes for military veterans and teaming up with Tim Tebow's organization for a special episode. Just because the cameras aren't rolling anymore doesn't mean the couple has been any less generous, and that good will has changed more than just a few lives in need — it's also (temporarily) changed Chip's looks.

Known for his shaggy hair and beard, Chip looked nothing like his former self when he shaved his head and face for charity a month after the couple announced its show was coming to a close. In November 2017, Chip and Joanna visited the Target House with St. Jude's Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., where they raised more than $230,000 for Operation Haircut. Chip posted an Instagram video of his spirited cut.

"We are leaving Memphis changed," Joanna wrote in a separate Instagram post. Of course, one half of the Waco, Texas-based pair left a bit more changed than the other.

Love looks good on The Bachelor's Carly Waddell

Carly Waddell has come a long way since she was rejected by Chris Soules on the 19th season of The Bachelor. She was undeniably adorable in her TV debut — but in a very Bachelor contestant sort of way. Waddell had long bleach blonde hair which was always tousled at the ends, her eyebrows were pencil thin, and her style was an amalgamation of casual t-shirts and slinky dresses. Though her BFF-ship with Jade Roper made her one of the more likable characters on the show, she was almost indistinguishable from the rest of the cast.

Since then, Waddell has given herself a major style (and life!) upgrade. The star competed on the second and third seasons of Bachelor in Paradise, where she finally found true love. She married her reality star sweetheart, Evan Bass, in August 2017 amid a controversial production shutdown. Regardless of the filming situation, the couple said their love was the real deal. 

"We were always going to get married," Bass told The Hollywood Reporter. "Obviously if production was shut down, then it wouldn't have aired, but the most important thing for us was to get married in Paradise."

These days, Waddell is a busy mom who's barely recognizable from her former reality star self. She traded in those slinky outfits for comfier clothes, dyed her hair back to a stunning natural brunette, and is positively glowing in her new role as mama.