Is Renee Zellweger forbidden to age?

Zellweger's appearance has led to widespread speculation in various media outlets in the past year. (Reuters)

What’s the worst thing that an actress can do these days? According to celebrity magazines and other platforms of public opinion, it would be to age. And it’s clearly a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario where for all women, it’s lose lose.

For older women, this evisceration of aging celebrities can lead to lowered confidence and a desire to ‘fix’ one’s body so that it’s closer to a radicalized ideal. Lip fillers, face cream for wrinkles, laser skin resurfacing for under the eyes, Botox, fat transfer, breast augmentation; the list goes on and on for the many different treatments that women seek as the perceived beauty of their youth fades away.

It is clear that although the adage “You age like a fine wine,” is well known, it seem to apply only to men. So how does Hollywood react to an actress as she ages? The answer: not good.

Renee Zellweger

The most recent controversy has been in regards to the famous Bridget Jones actress Renee Zellweger. After a hiatus from acting, Zellweger returned to the red carpet and the fact that she had aged and no longer looked like “herself,” was the impetus for extremely negative reactions from critics and publications alike.

With his now infamous column in Variety Magazine in Variety Magazine titled, “Renee Zellweger: If she no longer looks like herself, has she become a different actress,” film critic Owen Gleiberman, states, “She doesn’t look like Renée Zellweger. I thought: She doesn’t look like Bridget Jones! Oddly, that made it matter more. Celebrities, like anyone else, have the right to look however they want, but the characters they play become part of us. I suddenly felt like something had been taken away.”

So the fact that Renee Zellweger was older and therefore didn’t look like “herself,” meant that she was also taking something away from the audience too, by participating in the human phenomenon known as aging.

There has never been such an article for any actor that has aged or has gotten work done, think Tom Cruise, Rupert Everett, Mickey Rourke, Sylvester Stallone, and so on, as many were quick to note.

Actress Rose McGowan penned a guest piece for the Hollywood Reporter in which she laid out the incredible and contradictory pressure on actresses to never age yet never show the effects of aging yet never get any type of obvious work done to combat aging, “How dare you bully a woman who has done nothing but try to entertain people like you. Her crime, according to you, is growing older in a way you don’t approve of. Who are you to approve of anything? What you are doing is vile, damaging, stupid and cruel.”

The Everyday Woman

So how does the witch hunt on aging affect the everyday woman? When they see famous women such as Zellweger, Madonna, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston and the like torn down for either looking too old or looking too ‘done,’ what is the effect of this?

As noted by BBC Health, according to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, there has been a measurable increase in the amount of elective plastic surgery procedures by 13 percent. Specifically, the top three procedures requested are breast augmentation, eyelid surgery, and face and neck lifts. These are all procedures meant to combat the effects of aging and make the female body more nubile and attractive, based on Hollywood standards.

Furthermore, there has been a 700 percent increase in Botox since 2000, noted in the Guardian among other publications, taken from the American Academy of Facial and Plastic Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS). As noted by Edwin Williams III, President of the AAFPRS in their literature, “The teen and young adult years are a highly impressionable time and the more consumers are inundated with celebrity images via social media, the more they want to replicate the enhanced, re-touched images that are passed off as reality. We are seeing a younger demographic than ever before seeking consultations and treatments with facial plastic surgeons all over the country.”

Annah Jacob, TV and Radio Personality in Dubai says, "I find myself thinking twice and thrice about what I wear when I'm out. Even when it's a casual trip to the pub. I even style my hair when I go to the gym just so I can take a great selfie to post across my social media. It's a pity but I do concern myself with the impression I leave on complete strangers!"

So what can women do to combat this incessant pressure? The most important thing to do is find success and happiness that is not measured by physical beauty standards. Explains Hayat Faysal, holistic healer and life coach, “As your success grows, you will be faced with greater challenges of opposed opinions that may work against you; the truth is they fear your power and strength. Remember to stay focused, let it go and continue to respond by realizing it is the universe confirming your constant success.”

As Zellweger herself penned in her recent opinion piece titled, “We Can Do Better,” for Huffington Post, “It’s no secret a woman’s worth has historically been measured by her appearance. Although we have evolved to acknowledge the importance of female participation in determining the success of society, and take for granted that women are standard bearers in all realms of high profile position and influence, the double standard used to diminish our contributions remains, and is perpetuated by the negative conversation which enters our consciousness every day as snark entertainment.”

It’s a responsible we all have as consumers of popular culture. Sums up Zellweger, “Maybe we could talk more about why we seem to collectively share an appetite for witnessing people diminished and humiliated with attacks on appearance and character and how it impacts younger generations and struggles for equality... Maybe we could talk more about our many true societal challenges and how we can do better.”

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Last Update: Thursday, 12 November 2020 KSA 09:10 - GMT 06:10
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