Once again the Internet was ablaze this week, because a female celebrity decided to update their look (and by update, I mean a little nip and tuck). However, the update seemed to have changed the person’s appearance to borderline being unrecognizable, and that seemed to have everyone up in arms about it, especially women.
Yes, I’m talking about Renee Zellweger. She attended Elle’s Women in Hollywood event in Beverly Hills Monday night and since then, the media and mostly women, took to the airwaves online, on TV, on radio, etc and ripped her apart. Some of the comments I found were:
“I don’t care why she did it. I’m just saying that unless you’re in the witness protection program, having plastic surgery on a perfectly attractive face, to the point where you literally appear to be a different person, is asinine.”
“She looks as though she could be Renee’s mother! Talk about aging! She needs to change her name to go with that face. If you look closely, it appears she has raised her hairline to make her forehead higher and somehow widened her mouth, too!”
“I’ve always thought she looked wonderful, but I can see that she may not have liked that her eyes were so small. I think that’s what finished off her unique look! But I could see where she may have thought she wanted to be less ‘cute’ and more ‘demure.’ It looks like she’s had surgery to open them up. That’s a shame. Fortunately, it looks to me like she hasn’t done anything else at least nothing major. She still has wrinkles in her forehead and such. The pouty mouth and full cheeks are there, just not as nice because she’s wearing less makeup in the newest pic.”
When I saw the pictures from the event, I noticed Renee was looking a little different and that was it. However, as you scan through all the different comments online, if you were the one being criticized publicly, you would just go and bury yourself under a rock and never come out.
The question I would like answered is, why? I am not even directing this question to the media, because quite frankly, they can’t help themselves. My question is directed to women. Why are we so quick to judge women? Where does it come from? What triggers it? Are men as critical amongst themselves as we are amongst other women? Are men just as critical of women as we are of women? And when I say ‘we’, I am including myself, as I am a woman. Although, I hope I am not that critical, but I’m sure I’ve had my moments.
A couple of months ago, I wrote a piece called, “The Media, Its Message and Its Effects on Women.” It was based on an article in The Telegraph titled, “The ugly, unfair truth about looking beautiful,” talking about why we demand women in the public eye to be extraordinarily beautiful, but their male counterparts can get away with being ordinary. I related it to the recent statistics coming out where 50% of all nine-year-old girls have body image issues. This all links to the ridiculous beauty standards that have been put into place in the last couple of decades, which can be seen on TV, in magazines, in movies, and online. That standard is: white, tall, slender, young women that all wear a size zero.
However, it’s more than that. If you ever pay attention to media in general and especially tabloid magazines, it is an incessant obsession with female celebrities (or any woman in the public eye for that matter) with regards to whether they are caught without makeup on, or upon giving birth to a child and how they look post-baby, or which designer they’re wearing, or what their diet secrets are (because of course they’re always on a diet), and it just goes on and on.
Two years ago, I wrote a piece called, “There’s More to Women Than…” talking about the same issue. What got me fired up were two different pieces in The Huffington Post. One was on Faith Hill not wearing any makeup and the other was on Hillary Clinton wearing the same Chanel jacket during her travels as Secretary of State. I was upset, because I could not understand why The Huffpost, that is on one hand talking about women’s rights, equal pay for equal work, rape, promoting women in business or tech, and other women-focused news and information, is on the other hand bashing and criticizing women.
We have been talking, writing, fighting, and protesting about women’s rights, women’s issues, equality, respect, and a whole slew of issues for decades. We have definitely come a long way, but we most certainly have a long way to go…still. So why is it, that some of the same women who are passionate about this fight are also so quick to judge? Now I am making a general statement, although I believe if the headline was something about Renee Zellweger starting a cause for equal pay for equal work for female actors in Hollywood, we would be behind her 100%. Why then are we not supportive when she decides to update her look? Is it because she looks a little different? I don’t think she looks that different and I think she looks great.
I also want to point out that again, those women that are passionate about women’s issues are also the same ones that consume all that trash media, particularly tabloid magazines. I was getting groceries the other day and as we all know, that’s where all the tabloids are placed. I think the last time I even looked at, or purchased a tabloid, was in 2009. I finally thought, enough is enough, it’s all so negative, critical and down right obnoxious. I can’t be supoorting women and consuming this trash at the same time, it’s counter-productive.
However, I feel women enjoy it. Maybe it’s mindless entertainment for them. They can’t possibly believe any of the crap that is written. Is it because it makes them feel better, that someone who is so famous, successful and wealthy, is struggling in their life? We have all had our own struggles in life, would we want them broadcast around the world? I don’t think so. Then of course, people like to say that’s the price you pay for being in the public eye. For Princess Diana, the price she had to pay was death, I can’t imagine that’s what we want as the price for being a celebrity.
I am all for writing and discussing these types of topics, but I prefer actually doing something about it. As I mentioned earlier in this post, the media can’t help themselves. They will continue to glorify the negative and superficial for all it’s worth. However, there are some organizations we can support and things that we can do to make some form of a change.
Miss Representation is an organization I follow and support. It all began with a documentary by the same name, written, produced and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of the Governor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom. The documentary explores how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in influential positions by circulating limited and often disparaging portrayals of women. I have only watched several snippets of the movie and have yet to watch it in its entirety, but I highly recommend it. You can learn more about the film, the organization and their project (The Representation Project) by going to their site, MissRepresentation.org or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
Let’s stop buying tabloid magazines. I don’t care whether the headlines are talking about men or women, it’s just all bad. The good news is, according to the Alliance for Audited Media as of June 2013, magazines such as People, US Weekly, In Touch, and the like are losing readership. This might be associated to more people consuming this media digitally, but I’m hoping it’s because we are starting to lose interest in these magazines.
For all the award pre-shows, post-shows and fashion-focused programs, I would like to suggest that we all email or write to them and demand they change the shows questions and commentary. I love fashion as much as the next person, but is it necessary to only ask questions about what the celebs are wearing? First, whatever they ask the woman, the need to ask the man. I know they have been doing this more recently, but they need to make a point of it. As well, they need to make a point to ask the women what roles they are working on currently and possibly any projects or organizations they are associated with. As millions of people are watching these shows, this would be the ideal platform for this, because it will bring light to the cause and help more people get involved. Personally, and I’m looking at you E Online, let’s do away with the mani-cam and the 360 degree view, it’s ridiculous.
As for the post-shows and fashion-focused programs, which are usually hypercritical, instead of outrightly bashing these women for possibly poor choices in what they are or were wearing, let’s be more constructive with our criticism. Let’s face it, fashion is a personal and individual thing. What one person thinks is beautiful, someone else might not think so. Even the most fashion-forward or fashion-savvy person has had a fashion flop.
Finally, the next time the media blasts about whatever female celeb or woman-in-the-public-eye in a negative and critical way, ignore it. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t bother commenting. These women have enough pressure as it is, because one, they are women and two, they are in the public eye. None of us can even begin to imagine what their life must be like on a daily basis, to have people swarming around them to catch the first mishap to broadcast it.
The change that we want for women starts with ourselves. The media is not going to change or evolve that fast, but they will start to take notice with regards to the action we take. Renee Zellweger deserves better, women deserve better, let’s make it happen.