I vowed that I wasn’t going to write about Renee Zellweger’s new face.
After all, hasn’t enough been said about it already?
Haven’t there been enough comments by writers and plastic surgeons about what she may or may not have had done? Isn’t everyone over it by now?
Nearly a week after Zellweger appeared at the Elle Women of Hollywood Awards, the articles continue.
As an FYI, it’s only fair to disclose that I have been a fan of Zellweger’s work for a long time. How she looks has no effect on her talent as an actress. I hope she resumes her acting career—it’s been too long since she last appeared in a film.
Still, I have to be honest: like many, I sincerely didn’t recognize her when those infamous photos first appeared. My first reaction was it must have been some attractive middle-aged model or actress type that I had never heard of or had long forgotten about. When I learned that in fact it was none other than “Bridget Jones” I did a double take.
Yet, those claiming that the shock is merely because we don’t expect actresses to age or delight in picking apart the appearances of others—especially the famous—are missing the point.
It’s shocking to many because she no longer looks like herself.
Few are saying that her new look is bad. Many, myself included, think she is still attractive. It is not the face most people think of when they hear the name “Renee Zellweger.”
More importantly, faces do matter. Not just from an aesthetic point of view but scientifically as well.
It is not controversial to say that we recognize people by their faces. Newborns, usually by the age of two weeks, can recognize different faces. They also tend to prefer those of their parents or primary caregivers.
While it’s true that we all change as we grow older, most of us still retain our core appearance. When I look at photos of myself from a decade ago or even from early childhood, I clearly see myself. My face has changed over the years but the essentials are still there—the basic shape of my eyes, nose and mouth.
Take Brigitte Bardot, one of the few celebrities who decided not to have any plastic surgery and embrace the natural process of aging. Even today when one looks at pictures of her current 80 year old self, it is possible to see she is still the same woman even from her heydays in the 1960s as an international sex symbol.)
Even people who undergo cosmetic surgery usually do not request that they look radically different from themselves. The most common thing I have heard from people who admit that they have had various procedures is, “I wanted to still look like myself, only a better version.” Indeed, even most plastic surgeons claim their intention is not to radically change someone’s appearance to the point that they are unrecognizable.
Even in the case of people who have successfully undergone facial transplants, usually as a result of accidents that left them severely disfigured, there are problems associated with recipients adjusting to the process of having a new face. Indeed, some psychologists argue that the adjustment is more of a problem than “unrealistic hopes, fears that [their] body will reject the transplant, guilty feelings about the death of the donor, difficulty conforming to the treatment regimen and its side effects and a personal responsibility for the success of the procedure.”
In any case, Zellweger, who will neither confirm nor deny she has any procedures, claims she is “happy” and in a better place than she was in the past.
I hope that is the case.
I hope she is happy with her appearance because that is all that truly matters.
However, I confess that I will miss her old look which I found beautiful because it wasn’t “perfect” in the usual sense of the word. She had a very unique face that set her apart from all the other Hollywood types. As an Asian woman, I found her trademark eyes-which some referred to as “squinty”-very cool. While Hollywood still has a way to go to represent all the types of diversity that is out there, I thought the fact that she managed to become a major A-List star without conforming to the norm was the step in the right direction.
I still plan to see any movies that Renee Zellweger stars in, but it is a bit sobering to know that the face I see on screen will not be the one that I am used to.
In any case, I will always believe in freedom of choice when it comes to altering one’s appearance, and I cannot say I will ever rule out a nip and tuck if I live to a ripe old age.
However, one thing I am certain of is that I never want the face looking back at me in the mirror to be one that I do not recognize.
“Korea’s plastic surgery mayhem is finally converging on the same face. Here are the Miss Korea 2013 contestants.” (Photos)
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