Over the past few weeks, you can hardly scroll down your Facebook wall, listen to the radio, watch morning TV or page through the grocery store checkout line magazines without reading about the horrible crime that Renee Zellweger has committed: aging. Ok, sorry–aging and doing something to her face. Because she’s apparently the first woman in Hollywood to ever inject anything into her face or get some kind of plastic surgery.
As a woman of a certain age (46, in case you’re wondering) who would buy all the plastic surgery in the world if I had the money, I don’t get the hostility most people seem to have about plastic surgery. The same people who decry slut shaming or disparaging women seem to be the first to slam anyone who does anything beyond comb her hair or maybe apply some tinted lipgloss for special occasions. Shame on you for not aging gracefully! What the hell is wrong with you that you’re so crazy that you can’t just look in the mirror and be happy with what you see and go about your life? How mentally broken are you that you willingly make yourself look like a monster–because looking different at 45 than you looked at 35 apparently equals monster?
The concept of vanity is something I think about a lot as a woman who is raising kids and trying to be a positive role model. Am I setting my daughter up for a lifetime of failure if I get Botox? Does it make me a horrible, stupid person if I don’t like what I see in the mirror and make the choice to enhance some aspect of my appearance? To hear it from the Peanut gallery of most people, yes, it does. Only stupid people who hate themselves and aren’t smart enough to just love themselves the way they are choose to inject poison into their faces or pay money to have their boobs or eyes or noses or bodies altered. Obviously you’re a worthless person and a head case if you don’t like how you look and decide to do something about it beyond drugstore creams. You’re pathetic and a disgrace and a bad role model for girls and just an idiot if you get plastic surgery. These are the sentiments that I regularly hear or read from women, from friends, from people who pride themselves on being non-judgemental and feminist and supportive of people’s life choices and/or religious leanings and/or nationality and/or just about any other thing there is to be tolerant of. Respect every choice and every person….except the woman dumb enough to inject shit into her face. Except me.
What I don’t get is this? If women are supposed to be supportive of one another and sisters and all that stuff, why is that contract negated if a woman for whatever reason decides to alter her appearance? If she just is not able to love herself the way she is and feels more comfortable if she does something to make herself look different? If she didn’t grow up filled with great self esteem and the secure knowledge that she was smart and great and perfect just the way she is? Or, in Renee Zellweger’s case, if she has chosen to go into a profession where women can either look continually young and beautiful and thin or go without work?
I get how if you have impeccable self-esteem, you can’t fathom how other people don’t also just have it. I get how you think, if I feel this way, anyone can and should feel this way. But that’s now how life or self esteem works. But how about this–how about extending the same open-mindedness and humanity you show every other person who looks different than you do or makes different choices than you do to women who, for whatever reason, decide they’re not ok with how they look and choose to alter that? Instead of looking at someone like Renee Zellweger or, well, me, and thinking “that’s just sad” or worse, just think…I don’t even know what to suggest you think. Maybe just think the same thing you think about anyone else who makes different choices than you but who you would never dream of just flat-out demeaning. Isn’t accepting differences about not spewing hate or passing judgement, calling people freaks or idiots or whatever other nasty descriptors people are using when they talk about Renee Zellweger’s current appearance? Or does acceptance not go as far as not hating other women because they don’t know how to love themselves the way they are?
I’m not saying I want a pat on the back because I choose to spend money getting poison injected into my face or anything, but I also don’t think it negates my other qualities or renders me just a disappointing head-shake of a person like what Renee Zellweger seems to have become to many.