When celebrities strut down that biggest of all the catwalks this Sunday – the Oscars red carpet – we'll see the dazzling smiles, the gorgeous gowns and the picture-perfect female stars looking taut, toned and flawless.
What we won't see is the blood, sweat and tears – crazy diets, intense exercise regimens, mad beauty treatments, all in the name of red-carpet perfection – it took to get there.
We all know female stars get paid an exorbitant amount of cash not only for their artistic gifts on-screen, but because they look otherworldly. But that doesn't always come naturally - this means resorting to supernatural methods for self-improvement (like vampire face lifts and the Werewolf diet). When it's awards-ceremony night, even the most down-to-earth, laid-back celebrity falls prey to the lunacy, which means from about a week before the big day, food is no longer on the menu.
In 2013, the stunning Julianne Moore panic-dieted her way through awards season, confessing to The Sunday Times Style magazine: "It's so unfair. They (the Golden Globes) fall just 13 days after the end of the Christmas holidays. Realistically, you only stop eating and drinking too much on January 1, and I was certainly no exception... I did... this juice thing. I've never done one before, but I was desperate." And she's one of the normal ones...
"It's brutal. You can see a hair follicle. You can see a pimple before it's a pimple," celebrity facialist Nichola Joss told The New York Times last year about the high-def cameras that hone in on every imperfection come Oscar night. So it's no wonder making sure skin is flawless (don't forget about your décolletage and back!) is an arduous process that starts weeks before the main event.
Pre-Oscars, celebs have been known to take rather extreme measures - the kind that make starvation and manic exercising look tame. The kind with needles. Eek. Back in 2010, Oscar nominee Sandra Bullock joked to TV host Matt Lauer: "I do believe some liposuction is in order, a very strict diet regime..." a mantra some celebs actually adhere to, according to Dr. Aaron Rollins, who told New York magazine in 2013 of his Elite Body Sculpting lipo service: "...for the red carpet, right now it's basically a necessity, like tooth-whitening."
Common areas for lipo action are the arms or shoulder blades, with some celebs shuddering at the thought of bulging skin hanging over the top of their strapless dresses. As Dr. Patricia Wexler told the Daily Mail in 2008, regarding a star who panicked about not looking picture-perfect in her dress: "It was easier to do a little liposuction than to fix the dress."
Every celeb wants to end up on the Oscars best-dressed lists, not only because it's lovely to hear Joan Rivers compliment you, but also because having a red-carpet hit can mean lucrative advertising gigs in the future and can secure a long-term relationship with a fashion house, beauty brand or jewellery company.
Superstar stylist and designer Rachel Zoe told USA Today in 2012 the gown-choosing process involves "a lot of back and forth about sketches, swatches, fabrics, fittings... Sometimes (an actress) has 15 fittings for one dress." As well as trying to avoid certain red-carpet faux-pas (white can look bridal, VPL is a disaster, sequins can pile on the pounds), choosing a gown from a sea of jaw-dropping designer options can be a tough call. Stylist Nicole Chavez, who dressed Catherine Zeta-Jones in glittering gold Zuhair Murad at last year's Oscars, told Bloomberg Business Week: "It's hard to choose from all those options, so we end up going with what we feel. This business is about going with your gut and sticking with it."
Once you've found the perfect gown, don't expect to be able to achieve even the most basic human functions in it (like breathing). As Amanda Seyfried, in custom Alexander McQueen, admitted to ABC News on the red carpet in 2013: "I can't sit down. I feel like my organs are being pushed out of my body slowly."
Just think about how toned Angelina Jolie's right leg had to look when it starred at the Oscars in 2012. Female celebrities are constantly pushing their bodies to look their fittest, but pre-Oscars, they really up the ante, working not only to get their physiques more toned than ever but also doing exercises to improve posture.
This includes working out hours before hitting the red carpet: "I did an intensive cardio workout with Stacey McDermott from the Tracy Anderson Method and tried out my partner, Tracy Anderson's new mini Trampoline workout for the Metamorphosis series," Gwyneth Paltrow wrote on her Goop website of her 2012 day-of Oscar prep.
Unless you're Kate Winslet (yet another reason we love her), of course. She told People magazine in 2009 she hadn't been working out at all in preparation for the Oscars: "N.O. [I] absolutely do not. I'm very sort of relaxed and vocal about these things. I have not done a stitch of exercise since October. I literally have not had the time. And I'm just going to eat normally, I'm not going to make cuts. If I'm keeping it together it's by a wing and a prayer. I just want to enjoy this." Enjoy she did - she left with an Oscar in hand.
Everyone knows an Oscars hairstyle can make or break a red-carpet outfit, so A-listers invest a lot in getting their hair to look picture-perfect, deep conditioning their locks for a lustrous finish in advance of the big day and relying on everything from extensions to wigs to get the job done.
And lots of people are faking it with their manes - celeb stylist Matt Fugate of New York's Sally Hershberger salon told Us Weekly: "Extensions always thicken up every style and can aid braided styles because they make the look polished," while Alterna Haircare's Michael Shaun Corby revealed to the AP that a lace-front wig helps give stars an eye lift for the event, smoothing wrinkles and lifting brows: "Then we top it with a $7,000 wig and no one knows our little secret!" We do now. Bonus points if you can spot who's rocking a hair wig this Sunday.
Once you've been sprayed, pulled, prodded, starved and pinned into submission, don't think it's all fun and games once you get onto the red carpet. Jennifer Lawrence, one of our favourite, refreshingly candid celebs, told Vanity Fair in 2013: "I know that's a cliché, but it's uncomfortable having to pose when people are shouting at you and the next day you just get slaughtered. You walk out there and go: 'Hate me!'"
She went on to describe her experience at the 2012 Oscars with this succinct phrase: "I felt like a walking rag doll." But, like (mostly) everyone else come Oscar night, she looked like a ravishing beauty. Bring on the Oscars 2014!
LOVE THIS WRITER? Follow her on Twitter @JenBNYC.
MORE! See all the latest on the Oscars 2014 here.