I too am guilty of judging Renee Zellweger when I first saw those shots of her ‘new’ face splashed across my Facebook homepage. Shocked at first, I admit to then experiencing a secret, guilty pleasure that the sweet and natural face of Bridget Jones has aged like the rest of us.
It’s unfortunate for celebrities that when they make the choice to disappear from the public eye for a while, they are expected to look exactly the same way when they return. Which is why many of them resort to plastic surgery – to keep the Peter Pan dream alive.
For females celebrities, that expectation is even greater. And therein lies the problem.
My reaction to Renee’s face was not to question WHY she chose to have plastic surgery – if the press are to be believed, she’s been doing that for a while now (and I personally believe that every woman has a choice about what they do to their own body) – but I did question why she needs to cover up the life story on her face?
The argument for plastic surgery from such celebrities in the movie industry, is that women are left out in the cold, professionally, once they begin to age; whereas men become more bankable, more distinguished and sexy.
But the reaction to Renee’s facial metamorphosis hasn’t helped the cause of those women who continue to fight against the discrimination that women are judged more by their looks than men. What it has proved, though, is that although we resent a society that judges women on their looks, many of us are guilty of doing the same thing.
While many middle-aged women condemn society for treating them as ‘invisible’, they are often the first to point the finger at other woman for how they look and live their lives.
Plastic surgery is a choice, just as abortion is a choice and just as Amal Amaluddin made a choice by changing her surname to Clooney. ‘Choice’ is what we women have always fought for.
Which is why we don’t have the right to challenge other women about the choices they make.
Surprisingly, Renee has responded to the press in justification of her new look. She hasn’t admitted to any ‘work’, but she has conceded that she looks different, with the explanation that her new face is the result of a new and happier lifestyle, away from the limelight.
There’s no doubt that past experience and your personal life story begin to etch your face once you hit your forties. Those tell-tale lines, whether they emanate from alcohol, sleepless nights, illness or stress, carve visual memories as the rest of the body adapts to the next phase of life.
Like stretch marks, some women choose to wear those lines with pride, others will try to hide them.
It’s funny how you don’t really notice yourself ageing as you get older, though. When I look in the mirror these days, I’m not horrified by my reflection. I see the same face I’ve had all my life, and it’s only when I see photos of myself that I think WTF.
But am I bothered enough to conceal the story my face tells and pretend to be something I’m not? I have nothing against plastic surgery, but for me, at this stage of my life, it’s strangely liberating not to be judged by my looks, to be invisible or visible if I choose to be.
To have a choice.
As long as I never become invisible to the people that I care about.