Give Renee Zellweger a break!
It’s a fast-paced world where things keep changing by the minute. Thus, it naturally creates a more competitive environment that we thrive in. Everywhere you go, everyone is trying to keep up with others and trying to be something that is better than what they were moments ago. It’s the era of technology outpacing itself. And it has translated into our life in ways we pay no heed to, and even if we do, we try our best to ignore it and be oblivious.
As predicted, when Renee Zellweger stepped out onto the red carpet of Elle magazine’s 2014 Women in Hollywood awards, she was suddenly the recipient of everyone’s stares, and the subject of everyone’s tweets, for being a completely different version of herself. She had apparently undergone some sort of procedure that made her unrecognisable and made her look anything but herself. She has since been trending on Twitter, and the media cannot get enough of her. They are criticising her for what she has done to her face, and why anyone in their right mind would do such a thing.
No Renee! What have you done
— Patricia Johnson (@johnspatricc) October 24, 2014
You had me at "Hello, what the hell did you do to your face?" #ReneeZellweger
— BD WONG (@BD_WONG) October 21, 2014
For Halloween, I'm going to dress up like myself and tell everyone I'm #ReneeZellweger
— Jaydon Ono (@JaydonOno) October 21, 2014
But let’s leave her alone for a moment, and look at the bigger picture here.
Hollywood is a glamorous industry and it reinforces the image of its glamour through the dreams and looks of pretty young girls looking for some fame and a platform for their talent. It’s an industry where a young face will always be preferred over an ageing or old face. Pretty are only young and young can only be pretty. This mentality has led to the concept of ageing gracefully; which involves a tuck here and a nip there, showing that women will do whatever it takes to stay relevant and sell-able. This is the mind-set that Hollywood enforces in their minds – if they’re old and as soon as they reach a certain age, it is the end for them and they just can’t progress anymore.
So when an actress is indirectly forced by you to stay relevant and goes under the knife, why would you criticise her considering you were the one who led her to do it in the first place? Why would you laugh at and judge them when you were the ones who made them do this to their face and body in the first place. This dire need to be relevant as an actress, to get roles and be able to “trend” is what drives women into giving in to the standards the industry has set for them to follow.
Regardless of Hollywood, our media feeds us the idea that beauty is only associated with youth. For example, the million and one ads advertising anti-ageing creams, eradicating wrinkles and frowns. Thus, we are inclined to think that youth is beauty. Anyone who does not meet these terms and standards will eventually go on to feeling inferior, even if they were once the centre of all the attention and the subject of everyone’s discussing, in a good and desirable way.
If only we, as a society, learned to accept ageing as a natural phenomenon and sought beauty in the natural process of it all, our women would not feel the constant need to be at the receiving end of the needle. It has, therefore, come to a point where we have turned this phenomenon into an insecurity that haunts women. Throughout their youth, women are forced to be seen as poster images of perfection, and when it is time to leave it all behind, they feel the need to stay that way forever. So when we see their before and after faces, it should not come as a shock to us that these women decided to do it.
Zellweger, after this debacle, released a statement where she said that she feels healthier and happier in her own skin as she is at the moment. Maybe she never got the procedure, and this is the so-called ugliness of her ageing. Maybe she did get the procedure which went horribly wrong.
We need to realise that we are in no position to question how a woman looks as she grows old. Ageing isn’t some optional process, it is a natural phenomenon and we need to accept the things that come along with it. Everyone goes through it, everyone around you and even you. So let nature take its course, and learn to appreciate beauty in whatever form it comes in. If we keep reinforcing unrealistic ideals into the minds of our girls and our women, we will be the ones responsible for them damaging their self-esteem and their physical appearance.
What matters is that it is their life and their physical appearance. We have no right to dictate what they do with it, and how they do it. We need to accept this fact and move on with our lives and leave them alone.
Zellweger couldn’t have worded it better when she said,
“I’m glad folks think I look different! I’m living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I’m thrilled that perhaps it shows… For a long time I wasn’t doing such a good job with that. I took on a schedule that is not realistically sustainable and didn’t allow for taking care of myself. Rather than stopping to recalibrate, I kept running until I was depleted and made bad choices about how to conceal the exhaustion.
People don’t know me in my 40s. People don’t know me [as] healthy for a while. Perhaps I look different. Who doesn’t as they get older?! Ha. But I am different. I’m happy.”
And that’s how it should be.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.