In an essay possibly more powerful than Jennifer Aniston‘s, Renee Zellweger says she has had it with the way the media not only portrays her, but women everywhere. She has always been a private person, so much so, that she took a self-imposed break from the public eye to simply just be. When she came back, literally years later, people had stuff to say about her. Not-so-nice stuff. So she took action.
OK, not physical action, but she sure as heck didn’t just lie down and take it. There were the magazines who questioned her appearance and debated whether she had work done, specifically something to her eyes. And there was the critic who commented that Zellweger no longer looks like herself. Until that one she was able to ignore it all, but came to realize, sadly, that her “silence perpetuates a bigger problem.” Not saying anything implied that she had something to hide.
Her essay also comes after Variety‘s film critic Owen Gliebermann posed the question: “If She No Longer Looks Like Herself, Has She Become a Different Actress?” Ugh. Has Zellweger, and, thus, Bridget Jones, gotten worse as she’s gotten older? That’s what he wants us to think he’s asking but it seems to be more of a not-so-subtle way to talk about the speculation surrounding Renee’s appearance since she returned to the public eye. The real question should be: Does it really matter?
The Oscar winner stresses that she didn’t take to writing her lengthy op-ed in The Huffington Post because she “felt publicly bullied” or because the value of her work was “questioned by a critic whose ideal physical representation of a fictional character originated 16 years ago, over which he feels ownership, I no longer meet.” Zing! Rather, because the “eye surgery” story (which she straight up denied, saying, “Not that it’s anyone’s business, but I did not make a decision to alter my face and have surgery on my eyes.”) becoming actual mainstream news reporting instead of just tabloid speculations was cause for concern.
While Zellweger admits, “It’s no secret a woman’s worth has been historically measured by her appearance,” our society has “taken for granted that women are standard bearers in all realms of high profile position and influence.”
She concludes that perhaps the focus should be on more important things, like “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.” And how “legitimate news media have become vulnerable to news/entertainment ambiguity, which dangerously paves the way for worse fictions to flood the public consciousness to much greater consequence.”
She adds: “Maybe we could talk more about our many true societal challenges and how we can do better.” Yes. To all of this.