Warning: rant that has nothing to do with social media ahead.
If you’re on Facebook (and who isn’t?–my hat’s off to you if you’re not) you’ve probably seen about a billion women posting “you go girl!” type of comments about this piece written by Ashely Judd in which she “slaps the media in the face” for presuming to think that her dramatically different-looking face of late is the result of plastic surgery. I know I’m probably in the minority, but seriously? My reaction to her diatribe about misogyny is the exact opposite of all the “go girl!” sentiments–I say shame on her for trying to turn this around on the media, and if anyone is to blame for distorting views of women, it’s her and her fellow actresses in Hollywood, on TV and in magazines.
She claims that she usually ignores what people say and write about her, but in this case, she’s chosen to address the current swirl of “has Ashely Judd had work done? Her face sure looks different” comments because “the conversation was pointedly nasty, gendered, and misogynistic and embodies what all girls and women in our culture, to a greater or lesser degree, endure every day.”
Um, let me just say this: you know why we women are under constant scrutiny, by ourselves and others? Why we feel we have to look eternally youthful and impossibly thin? Because of female celebrities just like…you, Ashley Judd! After all, isn’t Hollywood responsible, at least to some extent–a pretty hefty extent, actually– for the unrealistic expectations women place on themselves in terms of looks?
Frankly, I think it’s kind of crappy for her to get all huffy that people’s first assumption upon seeing her “puffy” face is that she’s been pumped full of fillers. After all, take a look at any actress or model or celebrity…a whole lot of them look plenty puffy and line-less,and they’re usually the first to admit it’s because they’ve had work done. We’ve become so accustomed to faces like Madonna’s or Sharon Stone’s or…basically name any actress over the age of, what, 25, being surgically enhanced–of COURSE our first assumption when she shows up onscreen looking “puffy” and line-less is that she’s had work done. So she allegedly was on steroids for a month and/or gained some weight and that’s why, in her ONE case, she looks puffy. Good for her. How about the other hundreds of actresses of her approximate age–or decades older or younger? Have all of them gained weight–only in their faces–or been on steroids? No, they’ve been to visit the plastic surgeon so Hollywood casters (or whatever they’re called) will pick them for roles or tabloids will marvel over how great they look….and the rest of us mere mortal women who hold ourselves up to the standards set by the entertainment industry are made to feel imperfect and faulty because we can’t possibly live up to the perfection these stars maintain either through the magic of plastic surgery, airbrushing, clever camera work, or all of the above.
So to Ashley Judd I say this: cry me a river, and shame on you for trying to turn this conversation around to be our fault rather than Hollywood’s. You want to point a finger and go on about “The assault on our body image, the hypersexualization of girls and women and subsequent degradation of our sexuality as we walk through the decades, and the general incessant objectification [of women]”? Then talk to your employers–Hollywood–and your compadres–women who make millions of dollars and live lives us mere mortals only dream about in exchange for looking impossibly youthful and beautiful. Tell them THEY need to stop perpetuating the myth that women never age or gain weight or look anything other than flawless. The media and the people you’re calling out in your diatribe? We’re merely following the example you have played a part in establishing–so don’t blame us and cry misogyny when we assume the most logical explanation and don’t give you the benefit of the doubt when you’re looking puffy and flawless.