Most people know the 47-year-old American actress and producer, Renée Zellweger, from her successful box office films that include Me, Myself, & Irene, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and the 2002 musical, Chicago.
In 2014, the actress created an unexpected stir in the media when several tabloid newspapers reported that Zellweger had surgery to alter her eyes, making them appear less squinted.
Two years later, in response to recent criticism for her newest role in Bridget Jones’s Baby, the 47-year-old actress published a personal essay to The Huffington Post addressing her disappointment with tabloid journalism and the unattainable ideals of female beauty. ‘Choosing a creative life,’ Zellweger begins her essay, ‘and having the opportunity to do satisfying work that is sometimes meaningful is a blessed existence and worth the price paid in the subsequent challenges of public life.’
‘Sometimes it means resigning to humiliation, and other times, understanding when silence perpetuates a bigger problem,’ the actress adds.
In breaking her silence, Zellweger opens up about the ‘exploitative headlines’ of tabloid journalism that thrive on misconceptions for scandalized storytelling, despite the consequences on their subjects career and most importantly, their personhood. ‘I’m writing because to be fair to myself,’ says Zellweger, ‘I must make some claim on the truths of my life, and because witnessing the transmutation of tabloid fodder from speculation to truth is deeply troubling.’
While addressing the assumptions of having ‘eye surgery,’ Zellweger makes a larger argument on the societal pressures of physical beauty, especially for women. ‘The ‘eye surgery’ tabloid story itself did not matter,’ Zellweger writes, ‘ but it became the catalyst for my inclusion in subsequent legitimate news stories about self-acceptance and women succumbing to social pressure to look and age a certain way.’
‘It’s no secret a woman’s worth has historically been measured by her appearance,’ the actress adds. In arguing for a shift in societies obsession with physical appearances and the beliefs that changing ones appearance, especially in relation to women, is an externalization of a lack of self-confidence, Zellweger is also making an argument for reconsidering what is considered as ‘important’ news.
Renée concludes her essay with the suggestion that there are better, and more positive conversations to conduct instead of attacking physical appearances as mainstream reporting. Instead of building a society based on fiction and unattainable ideals of beauty, that will naturally distort the perception of generations to come, ‘Maybe we could talk more about our many true societal challenges’, concludes Zellweger, ‘and how we can do better.’
Zellweger’s powerful essay didn’t fail to go unnoticed as many of her fellow female actresses took to Twitter to support and to share Zellweger’s important message, including Rebel Wilson, Alyssa Milano, and Nikki Reed.