Zellweger’s face – a stretch too far?

By William Pryer

pryerwi@mnstate.edu

If you simply Google “Renee Zellweger’s face,” over 60,000 articles will come up, with over 8 million results overall. Over the past couple of weeks, the Internet has exploded over Zellweger’s new look with the speculation that the 45-year-old actor has had facial surgery to some degree. 

Zellweger first revealed her new look at the Elle’s 21st Annual Women in Hollywood Awards on Oct. 20 and has received a strong, shocked reaction. Various magazine and newspaper articles have slammed Zellweger for her surgery, which she has not yet even confirmed.

“Bridget, Bridget, where have you gone?” demanded Lambert, a writer for the U.K. Telegraph. The NY Daily News even ran an article in which plastic surgeons tell the reader what surgery they think she has had, which again, she has not confirmed. These ‘surgeons’ are just playing a guessing game of course – they have no insight into Zellweger’s personal life and are just making assumptions.

Although Zellweger’s look is different, it is perplexing to read articles questioning whether or not it is actually her. Photographs of her face ten years ago are being compared to her latest image, which is completely redundant. Of course Zellweger is going to look different; the photographs were taken ten years ago. I can safely say I look different from my 10-year-old self. I think it’s fair to say Zellweger doesn’t look unrecognizable, but simply older.

Zellweger is having her face picked apart by the vulture that is the media. Just imagine having your face scrutinized by over 60,000 ‘journalists’ who do not have insight into the situation.

Annabel Fenwick Elliot of the Daily Mail, a U.K. publication, even suggested that Renee had surgery ‘to disguise her ethnic roots’. And the evidence for this is… where, Annabel?

It seems that the media is so quick to make assumptions and judge a situation they know nothing about. In fact, if I were in Zellweger’s situation, I would feel insulted the media is even suggesting I am shrugging off my heritage.

What is worrying is this type of ‘journalism,’ if I can call it that, is becoming normalized. The media is becoming increasingly cruel, hurtful and sexist towards women. Society condemns women for growing old and then denounces them for trying to appear youthful – it’s a catch-22. Zellweger is bound to feel pressure to look young, especially in an industry that is predominantly concerned with appearance.

If Zellweger did have surgery, it would not be surprising if it was done out of insecurity. Society seems to have correlated beauty with youth, which is both unrealistic and nonsensical.

People age, and what may come as a shock to both the media and society is women age. There is nothing shameful about this, and it is upsetting to see so many women in society who cannot come to terms with this simple fact of nature and are made to feel ashamed.

In response to the scrutiny, Zellweger released a statement to PEOPLE, reading: “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.”

Isn’t this enough for people? Is it not enough that she is happy with her new look, whether she has had surgery or not? Oh, but the media is never satisfied with a content celebrity; that’s not interesting or entertaining. Instead, the media would rather tear people down for a good story.

I agree with Zellweger that the rumors about her face are ‘silly.’ It seems as though her identifier as an actress has been replaced with something as trivial as her face and age. As long as society correlates beauty with youth, attitudes toward aging will not change. And for the sake of women’s self-esteem, I sincerely hope it does change.

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