Renée Zellweger has been subjected to criticism and scrutiny over her looks throughout her career, as have most actresses. Most recently, speculation abounded over whether she had undergone cosmetic eye surgery. In a new essay for the Huffington Post, Zellweger dismisses the rumors and declares she has had enough.
“It’s no secret a woman’s worth has historically been measured by her appearance,” she writes. And despite the progress society has made in recognizing women’s achievements and abilities, “the double standard used to diminish our contributions remains.”
What most concerned her were the stories generated by the tabloid rumors. “That the possibility alone [of cosmetic surgery] was discussed among respected journalists and became a public conversation is a disconcerting illustration of news/entertainment confusion and society’s fixation on physicality.”
This kind of speculation is “not harmless,” she writes, but rather perpetuates harmful standards of self-worth:
Too skinny, too fat, showing age, better as a brunette, cellulite thighs, facelift scandal, going bald, fat belly or bump? Ugly shoes, ugly feet, ugly smile, ugly hands, ugly dress, ugly laugh; headline material which emphasizes the implied variables meant to determine a person’s worth, and serve as parameters around a very narrow suggested margin within which every one of us must exist in order to be considered socially acceptable and professionally valuable, and to avoid painful ridicule. The resulting message is problematic for younger generations and impressionable minds, and undoubtably triggers myriad subsequent issues regarding conformity, prejudice, equality, self acceptance, bullying and health.
Her essay echoes themes of Jennifer Aniston‘s essay for the Huffington Post in July, which also touched on media speculation of her personal life. “The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing,” Aniston wrote. “The way I am portrayed by the media is simply a reflection of how we see and portray women in general, measured against some warped standard of beauty.”
Actress Rose McGowan wrote an op-ed in The Hollywood Reporter in defense of Zellweger in July, after an article in Variety said that Zellweger’s “right to look however [she] wants,” hurt the upcoming Bridget Jones movie. “Who are you to approve of anything?” McGowan wrote.
Zellweger urges us all to be more conscious of our choices and conversations. Instead of tearing apart other people’s looks, she writes, “Maybe we could talk more about our many true societal challenges and how we can do better.”
Read the full essay on the Huffington Post.