So I’m sure a lot of you have heard the Renee Zellweger jokes before – that she was puffy, she looked like she was on crack, she resembled a blowfish, etc. These were all mean-spirited, cheap, and lazy jokes told at the expense of a talented actress whose biggest sin was starring in a sequel to Bridget Jones’s Diary (I’m still mad about that, by the way).
Zellweger has disappeared for a bit, popping up occasionally in the gossip rags, but staying MIA for the most part, until a few days ago when the world lost its collective shit because Renee Zellweger peeked her head out in public – surprise! Her head looks somewhat different than what we remember from the Cold Mountain era.
And predictably the sniping began, and predictably my eyes started to roll, over and over and over again. The Renee Zellweger jokes were tired before, and they’re tired now. The collective gasp at her supposed transformation brought to mind when we collectively acted like a major asshat and shat on Kim Novak during her Oscar appearance, because it looked like the movie vet had some major work done.
I really scratched my head over that one, and I’m commencing the scratching of my head over the Renee Zellweger fracas. Firstly, I wonder why we even feel the need to comment on her face (I know, I know, by writing this post, I’m commenting on it as well – I’d argue that I’m commenting on the commentary, but you’re free to disagree with me). Why the interest, nee, the need to immediately tear someone down? And for what? Because she did something that millions of us would do in a split second if we had the money?
Renee Zellweger is a millionaire, and therefore she operates in the world with privilege. That’s clear. But even her money, status, and fame doesn’t make her immune to a culture that is increasingly hostile to older women. Because she understands that to avoid being typcast as mothers and grandmothers (we live in a universe where Marisa Tomei was cast as Jonah Hill’s mother. Let’s let that sink in for a second), she has to look youthful and beautiful (which she does, by the way), because she’s competing for decent roles (which are scarce) with women younger than she. None of this is new, but still even if we’re aware of this sick system, we still prop it up. How? By going to comment threads to crap all over a woman (who’s a stranger, by the way) because she had the temerity to allegedly have plastic surgery (after getting shit unlimted for years). There’s a razor-toothed glee to the way some Internet zealots leaped in line to take a swipe at Miss Zellweger (I won’t give them extra publicity by reprinting some of the less-than-chivalrous comments), a cliched “taking down the rich” which really isn’t directed solely at Zellweger. Because here’s the thing, when you crap on one woman for getting older, then you’re crapping on all women who get older. And I know we’re supposed to say “what about aging gracefully?” or “What about aging naturally?” Well, I say f*ck that noise, because we all will age how we age – some of us will dye our hair, some of use will get our teeth fixed, some of us will get our brows lifted, some of us will get our noses slimmed, some of us will get our breasts enlarged, and some of us will get our butts lifted. No option is invalid if it comes from a place of authenticity. I’m starting to think that the reason we love carping on aging women’s beauty is because it reminds us that we all get old, and we don’t like to have that reminder staring back at us from the cover of US Weekly (and some of it is that we’re pissed that we can’t go off and disappear to some high-end clinic in Sedona, only to emerge fresh-faced and rejuvenated).
Look, my point is, Renee Zellweger has an Oscar on her mantle, so she doesn’t really need to prove anything to any of her detractors. She’s probably not losing a whole lotta sleep over some creepy trolls who think they’re bad ass because they have an avatar, a screen name, and a keyboard. She’s not the only victim in this obsessive desire to cut women down – all women are because we don’t only shit on Renee Zellweger exclusively. Think about: when at the grocery store or market, if you see an older woman wearing something revealing, do you say or think something biting and catty? When at a bar and a girl comes in with ample cleavage on display, do you immediately think something bitchy? If you see a lady with freshly-plumped lips, or a smooth-as-ice forehead, do you want to say something cutting (no pun intended)? Let’s relax on the trashing because we have lots of other things we could be doing with our time.