Tears for Bridget Jones

Zellweger before

Zellweger before

Everybody’s talking about Renée’s face. Part of me—the self-righteous, PC part—is thinking, here we go again: women scapegoating other women. When will the madness end? Why don’t we live our lives and leave each other alone? But honestly there’s another part of me, clicking on the gossip link along with everyone else, comparing Bridget Jones to modern day Renée, thinking, okay, I can see it, eyes a little wider, forehead a little stiffer, speculating on what exactly she had done, hanging on every word as the Hollywood nip and tuck experts weigh in.*

Why is it so fascinating when one woman—a woman in the public eye—changes her appearance? From Jennifer Lawrence’s hair chop to Jennifer Hudson’s weight loss, we can’t get enough. On one hand, many of us are tempted to do something daring with our hair, our noses or our necks.  Many of us fantasize about dropping a load of weight or adding new boobs. Celebrities have the cash, the time, the clout, the personal chefs and trainers to pull these things off. But there’s more to this woman-on-woman voyeuristic judgment than living vicariously through the stars.

There is also a subconscious—or in many cases conscious—identification with these famous women, perpetually on display thanks to their publicists and the paparazzi. Recent studies suggest that women who spend time on line, bombarded with images of Hollywood stars, feel worse about their appearances than those who spend limited time on fan sites. It may be natural for women to compare themselves to other women, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be destructive. That automatic impulse, honed since adolescence, makes us look at a female peer, then check ourselves. Am I ok? Do I measure up? It that peer is a celebrity, chances are you don’t measure up. Why should you? It’s not your job!

As we age, it should get a little easier. Self-acceptance should come into play as we learn to value ourselves for the things we accomplish, the women we are inside as opposed to our outward presentations. But the checking still happens.  Women in their seventies have Jane Fonda to contend with; women in my age range have Jennifer Aniston and Halle Berry as guides to “what’s still possible.” Demi Moore looks pretty fabulous too, as does Helen Hunt. How are the rest of us holding up? Unfair question.

“Well, she must have had work done.” It’s a comforting way to explain another woman’s physical age defiance. It’s helps us feel okay about aging appropriately and, in many cases, it’s true. Plenty of women, famous and otherwise, go under the knife. For every woman out there who swears she would never consider such a thing, there is another secretly contemplating it, checking out celebrity “before-and-after” pictures, holding them up to the mirror, wondering what if?

It’s my guess that Renée Zellweger had her reasons for doing whatever she either did or did not do. Whatever those reasons were, it was her business. Some critics say, yes, but as a celebrity, she’s a role model like it or not. If she was dissatisfied with her naturally adorable face—how are the rest of us supposed to feel about our own?  I say, if Renée thought she had crows’ feet starting and sought to nip them in the bud, so be it.  To say that she abandoned me and other women with burgeoning wrinkles is like saying that Jennifer Hudson abandoned plus-sized women when she dropped her weight. We are talking about Renée’s eyes, not mine.

Other critics say, By removing her imperfections, Renée has lost her charm! Now she looks like everyone else in Hollywood. Again, they’re her eyes, to make as commonplace as she sees fit. Maybe Renée did have surgery because she couldn’t love the imperfections that gave her so much character. Or maybe she thought surgery would help her maintain what everyone loves about her. She can’t win. Her face and body—like those of all stars—are part of the public domain.

So, mourn if you will for hapless Bridget Jones, but leave Renee in her round-eyed peace. And swear off toxic comparisons to anyone you see online–Facebook friends included. Take comfort in the knowledge that the image you see in your mirror is beautiful because it is belongs to no one but you.


*No post that touches on the topic of plastic surgery would be complete without homage to the late, great Joan Rivers, the brilliant, ground-breaking comedienne and tireless plastic surgery enthusiast. I am sure I am not alone in wishing Rivers were still alive—if only to weigh in on the burning topic of Renee’s new face.

14 responses to “Tears for Bridget Jones

  1. It’s hard not to notice Renee’s new look and feel bad that she wasn’t happy enough with her natural look that she felt she had to change it. For there’s no denying she did. It reminds me when Jennifer Grey got a nose job. We all knew and loved her in her Dirty Dancing role of Baby or Frances as was her name in that film. She was grand playing opposite Patrick Swayze. But the nose job forever changed her looks and her career was never the same after it. Imagine if Barbra Streisand or Jimmy Durante had done the same. It’s what gives their faces character and distinction, much as Renee’s eyes once did for her. I for one miss those eyes, which I thought were very beautiful. She looks pretty now, but in a bland, cookie-cutter sort of way. All of these celebrities make their mark on two things: their particular looks and their talent. Some grow gracefully old, like Meryl Streep and Billy Crystal. Others, have things done to their faces and it seems to alter their career track, not for the better. Meg Ryan is another. Plastic surgery works for some, a few, but not for all. Perhaps the trick is knowing when to stop and when to say, no.

  2. I am just going to say it, put it right out there. I have done it and would do it again, in a heartbeat. I didn’t do anything dramatic, but I was never sorry I did. Nothing to my face, I put boobs back up north where they belonged when I was 45, it was my birthday present. No one told us back in the days of burning our bras, if you wear more than a ‘b’ cup, don’t do it and I paid the price, twice.

    Now that I am losing weight, there is lots of loose skin, believe me when I am done with weight loss and prove I can keep it off I will do another nip and tuck if I can afford it. I see no issue with these things, I see no issue with women who can afford it doing what makes them feel good.

    We are terrible creatures. Nicely done Lisa and nice to see you also.

  3. Great post, Lisa. Thank you.

  4. Lorraine Williamson

    Great post! I know you don’t have the time but I miss your commentary. I think you have a gift. Mom

  5. Well a long bout from not blogging, Lisa.

    I actually consider facial cosmetic surgery the most drastic thing anyone could do to their body. Because we look at a person’s face daily, it is the mirror of their visual uniqueness compared to ….boobs which get hidden most of the time anyway. Or thighs/stomach.

    Yes, it’s Renee’s business but I actually feel sorry for her that she was unhappy with her previous face. She was lovely even then!

    I guess I was actually… horrified when I saw Renee’s new face. Understand my criticism is the same for Asian women who have eye surgery to open up their eyes, make them “rounder”, etc.

    More than ever: be happy that you are not a burn victim in need of cosmetic surgery. That’s an area I 110% support cosmetic surgery.

  6. Ah thank you so much for referencing my post! I love this article. Leave Renee in peace but don’t feel sorry for her, fell sorry for the rest of us who are destined to grow saggier and wrinklier!

    This blog made me feel so much better about myself. If we can be happy that is the most important thing. If all else fails there is always wine.

    Soph x

    I’d love it if you could please vote for Sophie, She Wrote in the UK Blog Awards 2015. For details see wp.me/p4yGPk-9g

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