Judging by the amount of venom I’ve seen being spewed at RZ in the past 24 hours, you would think that her face was the cause of death for 1,000 children. I think I also heard about 1,000 iterations of “SHE RUINED HER FAAAAAAACE.” And this is without even paying attention to much besides social media, where the subject of Renee’s face is literally a trending topic (note, address my social media addiction). Not that it matters, but I like her face a lot before and after. I honestly think her face is just fine, but it is quite clear that the entire world is extremely angry about a small adjustment to a couple of eyelids.
I want to cradle Renee into my arms and sing her some soft Crosby, Stills and Nash (trigger warning: concern trolling).
Let’s be real here for a second though. The cycle of how we treat women in Hollywood is absolutely a direct barometer for how we see and treat women on a day-to-day basis. The cycle is as follows:
Young actress enters Hollywood scene –> Young Actress Doesn’t Necessarily Have The Chiseled Facial Structure of a Model from the Ural Mountains –> Young Actress gets heavily critiqued her whole career about cheeks and eyes –> Young Actress Makes Tons of Great Movies for You Anyway –> Young Actress Ages –> Actress Has Surgery to Maintain Youth and/or Adjust to Standards of Beauty We Actually Don’t Know and it’s None of Your Business –> Surgery Not Up to Par for Rubbernecking Public –> Actress Criticized Heavily For Not Aging Gracefully For You.
We see the same thing happen over and over again. And it’s also the same formula for what regular non-celeb women go through. We are expected to look youthful, but not in a way that looks like we tried too hard because otherwise we are horrible and unnatural. We shouldn’t wear makeup because otherwise we are being untrue to ourselves. We are? But I like makeup! Or, just maybe, is this about you? Remember Jennifer Gray? Her nose job literally ruined her career, but more importantly, ruined her face for you. She personally offended you by altering her facial features. HOW DARE SHE.
The heart of the problem of course is that the patriarchy ensures that we keep striving for beauty ideals at all costs (BUT DON’T MAKE IT OBVIOUS M’KAY?) because it continually points out and proves that when you stop fighting for those ideals, you will suffer consequences. It is a fact that when women age, they do lose jobs, and not just in the entertainment industry. The stakes are not small; this is an issue that is pervasive, deeply entrenched and wildly costly to our own personal peace as women. Between Botox and eating disorders, our culture has driven us virtually insane.
Me included! Tonight in fact, I will apply my extremely expensive wrinkle cream before applying my frownies to the lines in between my eyes. Sometimes I stand there in the mirror feeling like an idiot and wishing I could be one of those girls who is SO CAREFREE. Wheeeee! But I’m not. I feel the same things that most cis women feel: Pressure. Pressure to “age gracefully” whatever the fuck that means. And if by a huge drop in luck I happen to not age gracefully? If those cigarettes I smoked in my 20s catch up to me? Yes, maybe I will think about Botox. Maybe I will think about physically altering my flesh because the pressure to look good as a woman is so psychotic. We criticize women for being “crazy” and paranoid about their looks, even though it is precisely our culture and ourselves that make us very complicit to this quagmire. My answer to people who ask why someone is “so concerned about their appearance” is simple: because you are.
Many celeb bashers claim that it’s their right to shit talk anybody that is famous, since they put themselves on display for us to do that. (I am not immune to ripping apart a celeb, but it’s usually in regards to what they’ve done to harm other people). I hear friends say, “Well at least I’m not doing it in real life! No big deal!” But I can’t help feeling like it is a super shitty deal for everyone. No one really wins in these scenarios except the billion dollar beauty industrial complex and growing plastic surgery industry. But again, it’s not a surprise or a crime for people to have these surgeries given how cruel we are to everyone in regards to their appearance.
I don’t want to judge Renee’s face or her decisions to alter her face because I don’t want to perpetuate this vicious cycle. And it’s not about being some self-righteous, Kumbaya, Zen Buddhist feminist hero. It’s about smashing a system that has gone on for too long: rewarding women for their youth, reveling in their image and then punishing them when they age or fail to comply with the image we’ve created and worshiped in the first place. It’s another form of control over a woman’s body and selfhood that I will not tolerate.
Original by Katrin Higher @KatraHigher