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No Woman, Including Renée Zellweger, Should Be Treated Like This

Photograph by Getty Images

More than a week ago, actress Renée Zellweger felt the need to speak out. Zellweger, if you haven’t been following along, may or may not have done the most unthinkable, horrible thing a human being could ever do: She may or may not have altered her face by maybe getting extensive plastic surgery. Maybe.

And so, because Zellweger may or may not have done something that is definitely her own private business, the “Bridget Jones” and “Chicago” star felt the need to speak out. The actress has endured relentless social media shaming for the past two years due to the apparent change in her face that some attribute to plastic surgery. (Just today, media outlets are focused on how Hugh Grant failed to recognize his former co-star.)

But that’s not why the actress finally spoke up in an op-ed called “We Can Do Better."

The article comes after a scathing article written by Daily Variety film critic Owen Glieberman, which makes the claim that because Zellweger’s face looks different, she is an entirely different actress. Glieberman wasn’t upset that Zellweger no longer looked like herself. He was upset that the actress no longer looked like her famous on-screen alter ego Bridget Jones, whom if you don’t remember, isn’t a real person.

In his article he wrote, “I suddenly felt like something had been taken away.”

To Glieberman, Zellweger was no longer herself because she, may or may not have, altered her face.

She does not deserve to be treated like a criminal for possibly taking her aging process into her own hands. No woman does.

And so she was put on the defensive. She didn’t defend herself against the plastic surgery rumors, which she’s been subject to for two years now. She asked why the conversation was even happening. Why were legitimate journalists discussing her face as if it were a real news story? Why was a reputable writer taking claim to the way she looked when she was playing a character in a movie 16 years ago? Why, she asked, couldn’t we all do better than to make tabloid stories about women’s appearances seem like real news stories? Because, as she said, they’re not.

As I watched the stories unfold over the past two years, I shuddered—not just for Zellweger, but for all women. The “did she/or didn’t she” attack on an actress for potentially altering her face has her backed into a corner as if she’s a common criminal. Actually, common criminals have been treated better by legitimate journalists than the woman who played Bridget Jones.

Zellweger isn’t a spokeswoman for natural skin. She is an actress, whose body, face and integrity are her own. She is not the public’s property. She does not deserve to be treated like a criminal for possibly taking her aging process into her own hands. No woman does.

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I can’t help but wonder if Glieberman has a daughter and what he might tell her about his takedown of a woman who neither deserves it nor asked for it. And I wonder what he’ll tell his daughter about how she should handle the scrutiny she’ll undoubtedly face, as every woman does throughout her life, of her appearance. Will he tell her that a woman’s physical appearance is not her own? Because that’s the message he, and every male or female journalist who publicly shames a woman based on her appearance, gives.

So did Renée Zellweger get her eyes done? I don’t know nor do I care. What I do know is the conversation needs to stop. And I know we can all do better.

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