Thursday, October 23, 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Body Modification, Renee Zelwegger and Judgment

I've been thinking about Renee Zelwegger a lot in the last 24 hours or so. Given the media (and social media) storm that erupted after her appearance at a charity event this past weekend, I know I'm not alone. Based on photos, it appears she spent some time with a plastic surgeon at some point in the recent past. Her characteristic heavy-lidded eyes are no more.

There are those who shout out that she doesn't look like the same person and how, HOW!?, could she do such a thing to herself. Women are supposed to age gracefully. To all of those people I have a question:  

When did we decide that changing our appearance was a bad thing? 

Almost every one of us does at least one thing every day that alters our appearance. Do you wear lipstick (to mimic fuller, more youthful lips)? Or eyeliner (for more defined, open and, yes, youthful eyes)? Is it an acceptable vanity because you can wipe it off at night? What about spanx? Or high heels? Does using these things mean that women hate their bodies? Or that there is some flaw in our society that they feel the need to do this? Come on.

Where is the line on making alterations to our appearance?? Is a chemical peel okay but facelifts are not? Is a tummy tuck okay but breast augmentation is not? What about ear piercings? Or nose piercing? Or any other piercings? What about tattoos? Or hair coloring? Or makeup? Or eyebrow waxing? Or diets? Or exercise? Is reconstructive vs elective a factor? Or is the degree of permanence the deciding factor?

Cultures around the world have had examples of this to one degree or another. The neck stretchers in Africa, the lotus feet in China, the Mayan sloped foreheads are all extremes, but lesser examples abound throughout history.

Are there people in Hollywood that make changes to their appearance for reasons other than personal satisfaction? Of course. Just as there are everywhere. But there are many, many people who make changes to their bodies for reasons completely devoid of outside pressure.

Ultimately, it just doesn't matter what a person's motivation was, whether it was driven by a basic desire to like what they see in the mirror a little more, or by a perceived need to look a certain way. It is their body, and theirs alone, to do with however they please. We all make changes to ourselves. Neither Renee Zelwegger, nor anyone else, owes anyone any explanations for their decisions.