Celebrities Who Have Unusual Physical Traits

For the most part, celebrities are just people, very much like you and me — except, as it happens in many cases, they may be somewhat shorter than you'd think (via NPR), tinier than you might expect (via Docshop), and in possession of a noticeably larger noggin than the average human (via Screenwriting from Iowa). Although lots of people in the world possess considerable artistic, athletic, and other talents, only a tiny percentage get to be celebrities. So, perhaps you've found yourself wondering with regard to some celebrity or other, "Why them?" or even "What do they have that I don't?" Some have suggested it's not just about physical appearance but also about the type of personality that is drawn to the sort of vocations that are more likely to give rise to celebrity — acting, orating, leading (via Psychology Junkie and Personality Club). 

Well, we have another theory, which is that achieving celebrity status could be somehow correlated with identifying as "special" in some way. And by "special," we're referring to something subtle, something they've been carrying with them that maybe only they know about — such as being in possession of some unusual physical trait. This is not science, of course, although we think it would certainly make for an interesting study. Take, for example, all these celebrities that have unusual physical traits — traits you probably didn't even know about.

Joaquin Phoenix: a distinct vertical scar on his upper lip

Ruggedly handsome Joacquin Phoenix can often be seen sporting a full beard and mustache. But the facial hair above Phoenix's upper lip often appears in photos to be "interrupted" by a slight vertical hair-free gap to the immediate left of his philtrum (the medial groove via Merriam-Webster). This vertical gap of skin where hair does not appear to grow bears a strong resemblance to the scarring associated with the repair of a congenital cleft lip, palate, or both. Cleft lip and/or palate, which is believed to be an anomaly that develops during the first three months of gestation (via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is one of the most common "birth defects," according to Mayo Clinic

Many people have assumed that this space above Phoenix's upper lip is evidence that Phoenix underwent surgical repair of a congenital cleft lip and/or palate as a child. Phoenix has never stated that this is the case, nor has he ever said that he was born with a cleft lip and/or palate. Whatever this unusual physical trait of Phoenix's might actually be, all that can be said for certain is that it has appeared in countless photos of Phoenix for as long as he has been in the public eye. Other celebrities known for having a similar trait include the late Oscar-winning actor Jose Ferrer, as well as the politician, minister, and activist, Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Kate Bosworth: eyes of two different colors

Since at least as far back as the Italian Renaissance, which is when Leonardo da Vinci first proposed that there is an inherent beauty in physical symmetry, it has been hypothesized and demonstrated time and again that facial symmetry is a subconscious signifier of attractiveness (via Psychology Today). And while we can't argue with science, we nevertheless suspect that this does not tell the whole story. How else to explain that there are so manty celebrities whose eyes are noticeably different colors (via Maxi Optical)? According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, when the color of one's eyes do not match, it is known as "heterochromia." Most people with heterochromia are born that way, but it can also be acquired; heterochromia can also be partial or complete.

The actress Kate Bosworth is an example of someone with "partial" heterochromia. Both of her eyes are blue, but her right eye appears to have a "splotch" of amber or brown in its lower half (via Maxi Optical). In contrast, Mila Kunis — who has complete heterochromia, with one green eye and one brown eye — is believed to have acquired the condition in the course of dealing with a number of other eye problems which appear to have been since corrected, although the heterochromia remains apparent. Other celebrities with heterochromia include Benedict Cumberbatch, Demi Moore, Jane Seymour, Olivia Wilde, and the late rock star, David Bowie. 

Karolina Kurkova: no discernable navel

Born in 1984, Karolina Kurkova became a model at age 15 after a friend sent her photo to a modeling agency (via The Famous People). Between 2000 and 2010, Kurkova appeared in nine Victoria's Secret Fashion shows, has been a cover model many times over, and has appeared in a variety of movies and television shows. Yet it wasn't until 2008 that anyone seemed to notice that Kurkova does not have a typical belly button

According to HuffPost Entertainment, it was during a November 2008 fashion show in Miami, Florida, that Kurkova first "surprised onlookers with her almost invisible belly button." As the New York Daily News put it, "there was simply an indentation where the center 'button' should have been" (via HuffPost Entertainment). According to Kurkova's rep, the model "had an operation when she was an infant" that gave her belly button this appearance (via New York Daily News). As plastic surgeon Dr. Matthew Schulman told the New York Daily News, it appears that the operation may have been to correct an umbilical hernia – a common condition in infants, in which an opening in the abdominal muscles near the navel permit a section of the intestines to bulge through (via Mayo Clinic). It's easily correctible, and while it's not clear whether Kurkova's surgery was a success, it does appear that this unusual physical trait may have helped cement Kurkova's celebrity status.

Winnie Harlow: unusual skin pigmentation

Canadian-born supermodel Winnie Harlow has a unique look that owes to the fact that Harlow has been dealing with the rare skin condition vitiligo since she was four years old, according to CNN Style (vitiligo is a condition that causes the skin to lose pigment in patches, according to Mayo Clinic). Other celebrities with vitiligo include late pop star, Michael Jackson, the comedians John Henson and Joe Rogan, and the actors Jon Hamm, Steve Martin, Holly Marie Combs, and the late Dudley Moore, according to Unite For Vitiligo.

Harlow's career as a model began when she was featured on "America's Next Top Model," according to CNN Style. Although her vitiligo has been a challenge that Harlow has had to live with, it also helped raise her profile, contributing to her celebrity — though celebrity brings its own challenges. As Harlow told Fashion Week Daily, "I happen to have vitiligo and I'm proud of it, but I'm also not a spokesperson for it just because you want me to be, or just because I have a skin condition. That's not how life works. That makes it difficult." She added, "It's not about me being private about my skin condition. I love talking about it. But it's not the only thing about me."

Marla Hanson: facial scarring from a slasher attack

Marla Hanson was one of many beautiful young women trying to make it as a model in New York City when, in 1986, she was the victim of a slasher, according to The New York Times. The vicious, premeditated assault required over 100 stitches and left Hanson with visible facial scarring, including a "long S-shaped gash from her right cheek to the corner of her mouth." The assailants had apparently been hired by Steven Roth, Hanson's former boyfriend and former landlord, according to the New York Daily News. Although Hanson was a working model at the time, it was only after the assault and the subsequent scarring that Hanson became a celebrity. That route of fame, however, was apparently not one Hanson had ever wanted to take — not long after, she left modeling and the public eye altogether, save for giving the occasional inspirational speech (via Screenrant) and comforting the occasional victims of slashings over the years (via Inside Edition). 

In 2020, however, Hanson changed her mind about fame, calling upon Dr. Sheila Nazarian and Nurse Jamie of Netflix's "Skin Decision" to help her reclaim what she believed to be the beauty she lost as a result of the attack and of aging (per Screenrant). The treatment plan that the three agreed upon was an apparent success, leading Hanson — a celebrity phoenix rising from the ashes of a traumatic long-ago attack — to reconsider modeling.

Shannon Doherty: beautifully asymmetrical

We know from scads of scientific evidence that facial symmetry is corelated with human attractiveness, with studies demonstrating that more symmetrical faces tend to be rated as more attractive than less symmetrical faces (via Psychology Today). Symmetry, however, is far from the sole determinant of physical beauty – and one notable exception to the symmetry = attractiveness hypothesis is the actress Shannen Doherty. Doherty, who began her career as a child actress and rose to mega-fame playing Brenda on "Beverly Hills 9021," possesses noticeably asymmetrical features, including that her left eye appears larger than her right, and that the left eye seems to be set significantly higher on her face than the right; these are traits that can be seen in virtually any photo of Doherty which you might see. 

In addition, according to e-Verse Radio, "the angles of Doherty's jawbone are also pretty different on one side compared to the other, making her cheekbones pretty different too." Although in photos Doherty's jaw structure may be less overtly noticeable than the size and placement of her eyes, Doherty's overall look reads as asymmetrical — but gorgeous.

Evan Handler: hairless heartthrob

If you're a guy, if you haven't already started losing your hair, there's a roughly 85% chance that you will in the future, according to The Bald Company. Celebrities are no exception. Indeed, actor Evan Handler, who played Charlotte York Goldenblatt's adorable husband, Harry, on "Sex and the City" — and who will reprise that role for the upcoming "And Just Like That" — didn't even begin to approach celebrity status until long after he'd already lost all his hair, according to WebMD, which interviewed the actor in 2008 about his experience as a leukemia patient and survivor.

As noted in the interview, Handler lost all of his hair while going through treatment for acute myeloid leukemia when he was 24 years old, but most of it never grew back. Sometimes Handler used to wear a wig, and he actually told WebMD he would be "eager to work with them more." However, that may not happen too often because, as he puts it, "I am now known for the way that I look." In other words, Handler's starkly hairless appearance is, at this point, critical to his celebrity, just as it may have been for the actors Corey Stall, Patrick Stewart, Stanley Tucci, Vin Diesel, Ed Harris, and the late Yul Brynner, all of whom sport a completely bald dome.

Seal: prominent facial scarring

Born Seal Henry Olusegun Adelo Samuel in 1963, the composer, singer, and actor who goes by the name Seal has visible scarring on his cheeks, the result of a rare form of the autoimmune condition lupus, according to Biography, which notes that those scars have been there since Seal was just 23 years old. And that was before he even made his first album, his eponymous 1991 award-winner that featured the songs "Crazy," "Killer," and "Future Love Paradise," and which rocketed Seal to fame as it rode to the top of the charts, including the Billboard Top 10.

"The scars on [Seal's] face are the result of discoid lupus erythematosus," according to Find a Top Doc, which says this particular type of lupus is known for affecting the skin and resulting in a distinct butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and nose, which can eventually lead to scarring and hair loss. For anyone who worries that a scar — even a prominent one — might hold them back from achieving their dreams, Seal's success and fame is evidence to the contrary. Other celebrities with noticeable facial scars include Tiny Fey, Mary J. Blige, Joaquin Phoenix, and Harrison Ford, according to Everyday Health.

Harry Styles: not two, nor three, but FOUR nipples

Fans of television's iconic series "Friends" may remember that the character Chandler Bing was rejected by a woman after she discovered that he was in possession of a third nipple. Or, as Chandler referred to it, a "nubbin." The upshot was that the character subsequently had the extraneous nipple medically removed. It's not clear what inspired that story, but the fact is that, as unusual as it is to have been born with more than two nipples, more than a few celebrities have that very thing in common, according to Allure. These include the actress and musician Lilly Allen, model and actor Mark Wahlberg, country music's Carrie Underwood, and actors Zach Efron, Tilda Swinton, Rebel Wilson, and the late Bill Paxton, all of whom have publicly confirmed that they were born with three nipples (via BBC Future). Then there's the musician, actor, and heartthrob Harry Styles. 

Styles has been rumored to possess not two, not three, but four nipples altogether, and in 2017, he confirmed the same in an interview with Chelsea Handler (via YouTube). Although Handler made a good show of acting surprised, she also let it slip that she had once dated a man with an extra, or "supernumerary," nipple. In fact, although it's certainly unusual to have more than two nipples, the condition — known as polythelia — is believed to occur in one in 500 births, or approximately 0.2% of the time, according to BBC Future.

Matthew Perry: missing part of a digit

Chandler Bing, the character that Matthew Perry played on the television series "Friends," was born with a third nipple, which he had removed during the course of the show's run (via IMDb). But that wasn't the only unusual physical trait that Perry's character possessed. In a later episode, it was revealed that at some time in the past Chandler had lost part of his pinkie toe in an accident for which, as it turns out, Monica was responsible (via IMDb). It's a pivotal moment because the upshot is that present-day Chandler reveals, for the first time, that he is in love with Monica. 

What's interesting about that is that while the late actor did not have a third nipple in real life, he was missing a portion of a digit. Specifically, Perry was missing part of his right hand's middle finger. According to Life & Style, this had been Perry's lot since long before he became a celebrity, having lost the tip of the finger at three as a result of a crush injury (a door was shut on his hand). And as it turns out, Perry was one of a number of celebrities who have had the loss of a digit in common. Others include Daryl Hannah, Walter Emanuel Jones, Vince Vaughan, and Jake Owen. 

Megan Fox: her toe thumbs have only endeared her to her fans

Actress Megan Fox may be best known for her role in the "Transformers" film franchise, as well as her marriage to "Beverly Hills 90210" actor Brian Austin Green, which lasted from 2007 until 2021 (via E! Online). And as it turns out, Fox has been living all her life with what some might consider a physical deformity, which is that her thumbs are markedly short and wide and are capped off with unusually stubby fingernails that point upward — kind of like what is more commonly seen in toes (hence the non-medical shorthand, "toe thumbs").  

In 2012, while a guest of Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show," Megan Fox addressed the unusual appearance of her thumbs, suggesting that she has wondered, at times, whether her thumbs developed as such because her mother had a habit of eating tuna during her pregnancy with Fox, and tuna is known to contain the heavy metal toxin mercury (via She Knows). "They didn't know [about the mercury in tuna] in the 80s ..., and I was wondering that maybe that's what happened to my thumbs why they're so short ... look at my thumbs they're weird and they're really fat and there's like a weird knuckle." According to orthopedic surgeon Alejandro Badia, Fox's shortened thumb has a clinical name: "brachydactyly — type D" (via Women's Health Magazine).

Ashton Kutcher: born with webbed toes

Being well over six feet tall, Ashton Kutcher is above average height, according to Healthline (which puts the male average at 5 feet 9 inches). Kutcher possesses another unusual physical trait, however, one that's far more unusual than simply being tall. As Kutcher has shared at various times over the years, including this 2008 interview with Jonathan Ross, he was born with tissue connecting two of his toes. In Kutcher's case, the second and third toes are connected through the first toe knuckle by what appears to be soft tissue. Syndactyly, which is the clinical name for webbed digits, occurs in approximately 1 in every two to three thousand births, according to Healthline. It's much more commonly in men than women, and in men it is more commonly found on the hands rather than the feet. In other words, Kutcher's condition is not just rare in and of itself, but it's also rare in the context of all syndactyly. In even rarer cases, the "webbing" is not soft tissue, but bone. 

Surgery is an option for those born with webbed fingers and toes. However, it appears that Kutcher has never felt the need to have his webbed toes repaired. That being said, Kutcher did appear to have a grand old time pretending that he was going to allow Ross to snip the webbing with a cuticle scissors (spoiler alert: Kutcher pulled his foot away in the "nick" of time).

Marty Feldman: his bulging eyes helped make him a comic icon

Marty Feldman was an award-winning comic, actor, and writer who died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 1982 at age 48 (via The New York Times). Although Feldman has been gone nearly forty years now, he's still remembered by many for his iconic and hilarious portrayal of the hunchbacked assistant to Dr. Frankenstein in 1974's comedic masterpiece "Young Frankenstein." That role was just one of many to which Feldman lent his unique brand of comic genius, but perhaps more than any other, it stands as empirical evidence that sometimes an unusual physical trait can be a gift, particularly when one is or wishes to become a celebrity. Feldman's unusual physical trait was his eyes, which bulged prominently from his eye sockets. 

Feldman's unusual look was the result of a condition known as Graves' Eye Disease (via Medchrome), which can develop as a side effect of the thyroid disorder known as Graves' Disease, according to the American Thyroid Association. Graves' Disease is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack cells of the thyroid as if they were a dangerous foreign body, with the result usually being an overactive thyroid. In up to around half of Graves' Disease patients, the eyes are affected as well, with apparent bulging like Feldman's, albeit typically in a less pronounced way. Other celebrities who have had Graves' Disease include the late Barbara Bush and the Olympic athlete Gail Devers, according to VeryWell Health

Amy Purdy: rose to fame after losing both of her legs below the knee

Amy Purdy was an aspiring actress with a fallback career as a massage therapist all mapped out when at age 19 she contracted meningococcal meningitis, a bacterial infection of the brain, according to the National Meningitis Association. As a result of the infection and various complications, both of Purdy's legs were amputated below the knee (among other consequences including the loss of her spleen and both of her kidneys; she received a donor kidney from her father two years later), her website recounts. It was only after going through this "life-altering experience" that Purdy rose to fame — and not just because people were touched by her story. Rather, Purdy became a celebrity in spite of her having become a double amputee.

According to her website, Purdy — who had a love for snowboarding before her double amputation — trained hard to become a Paralympic-level competitive adaptive snowboarder, winning a bronze medal in the 2014 Sochi Paralympics in the process. Purdy has attracted lots of positive attention, leading to an ongoing panoply of opportunities. Among other things, she has become a busy model and actress. In 2020 Purdy was a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars," ultimately coming in second place with her dance partner, Derek Hough (via E! Online).

Taye Diggs: born with 12 fingers -- six on each hand

You might not know it from looking at him, but American actor Taye Diggs, an arguably perfect looking human specimen, was born with 12 fingers, as he told the women of "The Talk" in 2012 (via Entertainment Weekly). Apparently, Diggs was born with one extra digit on each of his hands, which his mother elected to have surgically removed. Too bad, it seems because "I could have been really handy," Diggs joked with his hosts.

Another celebrity who was born with extra digits is British actress and Bond girl Gemma Arterton. Like Taye Diggs, Arterton was also born with two extra fingers, according to MSN – a trait that apparently runs in her family. Also like Diggs, Arterton seems not at all reluctant to talk about having been born with such an unusual physical trait. In fact, although Atrterton's extra digits were removed surgically when she was just a newborn, she has maintained that she is "proud" of her uniqueness. 

Padma Lakshmi: a keloid scar from a childhood car accident

"Can a terrible scar suddenly become a thing of beauty?" begins a 2001 essay for Vogue written by model, actress, "Top Chef" judge, and host of "Taste the Nation," Padma Lakshmi. The multi-hyphenate former wife of Salman Rushdie has had a prominent scar on her right arm since surviving a horrific car accident when she was just 14 years old. For a long time, Lakshmi had negative feelings about the scar, including confusion, shame, resentment, and anger. She even suffered through painful dermabrasion to try to remove the scar, but ultimately, the procedure was unsuccessful, leaving much of the scar still visible. Lakshmi can admit now that there was a time when she let the scar hold her back, such as an occasion when she was too anxious about it to turn up for a modeling job with the fashion designer Helmut Lang. Luckily, however, Lang gave Lakshmi another chance.

It was during that job that Lakshmi noticed Lang noticing her scar. Aghast, Lakshmi was shocked to learn that Lang adored her scar and wondered why she would ever have tried to have it "erased." It was a pivotal moment for Lakshmi, who in a recent interview with Self noted that she is now proud of her scar(s) because they mean that she's "had a life, and an interesting one." In fact, as she pointed out in her Vogue essay, "the scar has singled me out and made me who I am." 

Kesha: born with a vestigial tail

"I had a tail when I was born," the pop star, Kesha told a U.K. media outlet (according to Heat magazine, via E! Online). "It was a tiny tail, about a quarter of an inch, then they chopped it off and stole my tail. That was when I was little. I'm really sad about that story." Though it might seem surprising, the fact that Kesha was at one time in possession of an actual tail isn't really all that remarkable. In fact, all human embryos are equipped with a tail just like all mammals, not to mention all reptiles and birds, according to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Anatomy. In fact, the study notes that despite the "human tail" being "completely absent at birth" in most cases, the embryonic tail forms in the same way as it does in other animals. What differentiates humans is that a "tail reduction process" should begin and be completed before the end of the first trimester. 

Daniela Ruah: a birthmark on her eyeball

We usually think of birthmarks being on the skin, but actress Daniela Ruah can tell you firsthand that's not always the case. She told Entertainment Weekly that she has "a birthmark called nevus of Ota," which "covers the whole white of [her] eye and darkens it."

According to WebMD, nevus of Ota can occur on areas of the face like the nose and the forehead, but also on the eyeballs. In fact, around 50 percent of those with this condition experience it in the eyes, as well as on the skin. And while hyperpigmentation (which is what occurs with nevus of Ota) tends to be on just one side of the face the majority of the time, it's possible for someone with nevus of Ota to have it on both the right and left sides of the face. At this time, the scientific community is still exploring what causes nevus of Ota; however, certain patterns have emerged. For example, it's more likely that a woman will have it than a man.

Ruah, who is known for her role on "NCIS: Los Angeles" as Kensi Blye (via IMDb), has said that sometimes photographers will use Photoshop to change the appearance of the sclera of her eye, per Entertainment Weekly. This, she told Entertainment Weekly, "drives [her] crazy."

Jane Seymour: eyes that are of different colors

On her Facebook page, actress Jane Seymour has an image of herself and the late David Bowie. Crediting photographer Brian Aris, Seymour posted, "I wanted to share this image [Aris] created because out of everyone he's ever worked with, David Bowie and I are the only two people he's photographed with different coloured eyes!"

As Good Housekeeping notes, Seymour has heterochromia. The Cleveland Clinic explains that while some people with heterochromia have two different-colored eyes, others can have different colors within the same iris. Sometimes a section of the iris might be a different color; in other cases, the different color might scatter from the center of the iris. There can be many reasons why a person has heterochromia, including certain medical conditions that exist from birth. Eye injuries, as well as acquired conditions like glaucoma, can also cause heterochromia. And yet, a treatment for glaucoma, latanoprost eye drops, can also be the cause behind heterochromia.

Although heterochromia isn't common, celebrities Kate Bosworth, Mila Kunis, Bill Pullman, and Kiefer Sutherland also have heterochromia. In fact, Sutherland's heterochromia was a part of Julia Roberts' acceptance speech at the 1990 Golden Globes when she called him her "beautiful blue-eyed, green-eyed friend," per Good Housekeeping.