When she showed her face at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards on October 20th, Renee Zelwegger caused quite a stir. Not for her dress, for her face. Her crime? Sporting a new look that made her ‘unrecognisable.’ Critics said her ‘makeover’ made her look like a young Glenn Close. Now while Close was undeniably pretty in her youth, most of us associate her with the bunny-boiling psychopath in Fatal Attraction.
Doubtless Zelwegger was saddened by the comparison, but she she’s no stranger to cruel comments and speculation as to whether she did or did not have ‘help’ in acquiring her new look. We were happy when she was pudgy in her iconic role as Bridget Jones - maybe because that look threatened nobody. Now at 45 she’s trying to look her best and she gets slated. The fall out could have been worse. The late great Joan Rivers would have had a field day with her, but the irony wouldn’t have been lost on anybody, as the TV host had no less than 739 procedures in her lifetime. Why did she Zellwegger have cosmetic surgery? Why does any Hollywood woman do it?
For sure because Hollywood and cosmetic surgery are as inextricably linked as Laurel and Hardy, but insecurity comes into it, and that insecurity stems from it simply not being okay to age or sag in Hollywood. Rumoured to have had breast implants (that leaked) Marilyn Monroe sang in Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend about how women view the prospect of aging: ‘men grow cold as girls grow old.’ She also spoke about it: ‘When my looks start to go so will most of my fans.’ Zellweger has been slated as much as she has been praised for her appearance in recent years with verdicts yo-yoing from criticism to praise with monotonous regularity. Following her appearance at the 2011 Met Gala, the verdict was glowing. According to Hollywood Life : ‘The star seriously brought sexy back last night — and her toned figure was her best accessory!’ In January of last year the same publication ran a Renee Zellweger Flaunts Trim & Toned Frame for Berlin Fashion Week, and while this may have delighted the 45 year old star, any satisfaction was short-lived. They later asked four, yes four cosmetic surgeons to opine whether they thought she had had cosmetic treatments. Unsurprisingly the view was that she had.
The impact of endless scrutiny started to show last November when Zellweger told the Daily Express: ‘when you read reports that you are starving yourself or that you are anorexic, it’s very unfair and disappointing.’ It’s unfair to criticise anyone for their weight, for being supposedly too fat or too thin. But still we do.
We were happy to attack Zellweger for losing weight in her private life, then delighted to praise her for gaining 30 pounds for her role in Bridget Jones’ Diary and for the sequel 3 years later. As for whether she went under the knife recently, it looks very much as though she did. She had and has girl-next-door looks. Post surgery, she looks grand but bland. Less quirky, more cookie-cutter. Does it matter? Not much. She never had iconic looks. Her face was never memorable in the way of Marlene Dietrick or Greta Garbo. If she did go under the knife, she’s in good company. There’s hardly an actress in Hollywood who has not been associated with cosmetic surgery.
For sure we can hail Meryl Streep, Judi Dench and Diane Keaton, for looking er, old. But what’s so noble about that? In the scheme of life, what does it matter if someone looks ancient and craggy or if they opt to have their saggy skin removed, fillers injected, or lines erased? Who cares? Cosmetic surgery is normal. For Hollywood women, not only is it normal it’s expected.
Even Jennifer Lawrence had a nose job. That said, let’s hope she fares better in her career than did Jennifer Grey who had a similar procedure which supposedly ended her career. Today, the actress is best remembered for her roles in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Dirty Dancing, and for her comment: “I went into the operating room a celebrity - and came out anonymous’.
Little has changed. Women are still going under the knife, doing what they can to avoid looking decrepit and, then blatantly lying about it. For sure aging is natural and most women age beautifully, naturally and elegantly, but if you can’t stand your saggy jowls, baggy eyes or deeply wrinkled skin, why shouldn’t you do something about that?
As for why it’s so difficult to admit to having had cosmetic surgery, we need to look to Hollywood. If more of them ‘fessed up,, it would be easier for ‘ordinary’ folk to do the same.