Renée Zellweger’s Face: We’re Missing the Point

Elisabeth Kramer on 24 Oct 2014 at 3:00pm

Renee Zellweger

Face it: America is obsessed with Renée Zellweger’s face.

Maybe it’s because of our deep, abiding passion for all things Bridget Jones, or perhaps it speaks to our culture’s ridiculous standards when it comes to beauty and aging. Whatever has us fixated on photos of old Renée and new Renée, it’s clear we’re not alone in our curiosity. Unfortunately, much of that curiosity has come with finger-pointing and tongue-wagging that has cast the Oscar-winning actress as some kind of Bride of Frankenstein.

“What HAS Renée Zellweger Done to Her Face?” reads one headline in the Daily Mail. “Docs Decode Renée Zellweger’s New Face,” says another, leaching the humanity out of what’s actually a very personal conversation. In what we can only imagine is a very strange experience for the actress, she’s quickly become the poster woman for everything that’s wrong with our beauty-obsessed world.

Of course, not all of the news is negative. For nearly every sneering headline about Zellweger, there’s another attempting to clear her name. But there’s an inherent problem with stories like “Why Renée Zellweger’s Face Matters”: If Zellweger did have plastic surgery, why should she have to hide it? Why is it seen as a stain on her career, something to remove or, better yet, to never acknowledge in the first place?

Spend five seconds on that question, and you’ll come up with the answer: She’ll be mocked. Fans will hate her. Her career will end à la Jennifer Grey because she’s gone against the positive persona we thought she stood for. All these outcomes, many of which are finding a home in daily news coverage, owe their existence to the stigma that surrounds plastic surgery. Talk about it openly and you’ll be perceived as fake or weak. Never mind the investments — both monetary and personal — that getting work done requires; if you’ve got it or want to get it, you can’t sit with us.

Spend another five seconds on RealSelf and you’ll realize how upsetting this perception is. So stop talking just about Zellweger. This isn't only about her. It’s about the millions of men and women who see blaring headlines like “What HAS She Done?!” and reflect that negativity back onto themselves. They begin to wonder what’s wrong with them that they're considering plastic surgery as a means to feel more like themselves, and that line of thought ultimately takes healthy, safe dialogue off the table. Now there’s something to talk about it.

Here’s what RealSelfers had to say about Zellweger:

“You have to love (to hate) an industry that expects female celebrities to be beautiful and timeless, but then criticises them for doing exactly what we’ve asked of them. Has her acting ability changed, or just her appearance? Someone should tell the Daily Mail that real people do age......” — Sharon, RealSelf community moderator

“I wish all women would be comfortable enough with themselves to age like Meryl Streep, but if not, then let’s leave them the heck alone.” — Angie, RealSelf Community Manager

“If having some work done makes a person feel more comfortable in their own skin, then who are we to question that? She’s an adult, who made a personal decision about her own body and who seems happy with that decision and outcome.” — Kirsty, RealSelf Community Manager

"She looks fantastic so they should simply leave her alone. No crime in wanting to make a few changes in your appearance." — Kimmers25, RealSelf Community Manager

"She definitely looks different than she did during the Bridget Jones years but personally I don't care and think the media should leave her alone and stop sensationalizing how a woman chooses to age." — Jill81, RealSelf Community Manager

Join the conversation.