OK I’m going to try to make this quick because the world needs another “Renee Zellweger’s Face” think piece like it needs a brow tuck, which is to say, it doesn’t need a brow tuck, but it certainly is free to choose to have a brow tuck, so you’re free to read this or age gracefully.
(And not that it should matter, but for the record, Bridget Jones’s Diary is the only chick flick I can or will watch, I adore it and I adore Renee Zellwegger and have tweeted something that may be a joke about that not looking like her face. Part of the problem? Part of the solution? Unfunny hypocrite? That’s your call to make. I’m just off for the week and have thoughts to share.)
Renee Zellweger showed up this week looking different and everyone assumed she had plastic surgery and maybe she did. And because we all hate our jobs and are looking for anything to distract us from them, the internet responded, sometimes with jokes and sometimes with mean comments. And then because we hate our spouses and children and are looking for anything to distract us from them, the internet responded again, this time defending Renee Zellwegger’s alleged plastic surgery, saying that Hollywood and society are mean to actresses and women, that we the public are mean to actresses and women, and that for years we criticized Zellwegger for having a puffy face and squinty eyes and so that we are somehow culpable if, in fact, she tried to change it.
For the record:
Yes, Hollywood and society are mean to actresses and women.
Yes, we the public are mean to actresses and women.
However, Renee Zellweger is a grown woman, a successful woman, capable of making her own choices in this world. To claim that anyone “made her” do what we don’t even know if she did or not, implies that she is some easily lead, weak, shallow woman incapable of any kind of cognitive thought, which is also insulting, also perpetuates a stereotype, and is just as destructive to women and our perception of ourselves and each other.
Because we have a choice.
I’m going to say it again. We have a choice.
Yes, there are very real pressures on all women to look a certain way. And every day we make choices to succumb to that pressure or not. Do I order a salad? Do I go for a run? Do I wear heels? Do I put on makeup? Do I rub some expensive fruit acid on my face? Would it be nice to just go about one’s business without all of this taking up bandwidth? Yes. But this problem is a luxury. There are places in the world where people would be stunned to hear that we have the choice to starve ourselves or not and that not everyone chooses the “or not.” And again it is a choice.
By defending someone’s plastic surgery, not by saying that we have the choice to do what we want to our bodies, but by saying societal pressures forced someone to do it, overlooks the power we have over our own lives. We can decide how we want to look, not society. We decide what we love about ourselves, what we find beautiful. We decide what we want to change, why we want to change it and how we will go about it. As much as I find it tiresome when Lena Dunham makes a get out the vote video all about her dancing in a onesie, I have to appreciate that it’s a woman making a positive choice about how she wants to be seen and what makes her feel good regardless of whatever pressure is out there.
The power is ours to lose. Let’s choose to keep it.