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We make our idols, and then our idols make us. When they no longer appear as we desire, we get uncomfortable as a society. We have created the virus that these two stars are seemingly suffering from. With admittedly no Psychology degree, and without speaking to either of these stars, let me diagnose them with a case of the runs. Wait, let me explain. They are both chasing something outside of themselves, and it is our fault.
In case you’ve been under a rock today, Renee Zellweger has made herself unrecognizable.
Let us remember that the old face of Renee won her an Oscar. It is the face we know and love, the face of Bridget Jones, the quirky spunky girl yes a “Manic Pixie Dream Girl“, to an extent, but with a tad more agency. Bridget loved her curves, and was totally unafraid to be herself. We knew Renee as a great character actress, who transformed into anything. Who can forget her ballsy, country, tough as nails Oscar winning turn in Cold Mountain?
Renee is an incredible “character actress” as they say. Which is a polite way of saying you aren’t Nicole Kidman. She has gained and lost weight for roles, and transformed from country “Ruby” in Cold Mountain, to the glamorous “Roxie Hart” in Chicago.
Breaking her “ugly duckling” mode,. Renee was the glamor girl in Chicago.
Now, here I go playing into the Beauty Myth. Naomi Wolf so rightly points out that we hold women up to an insane standard that doesn’t exist, and is unattainable anyway. It certainly is not something one can keep up without a village of stylists, personal chefs, trainers, and master cleanses. We forever hold them up to a younger version of themselves, and when they try to do something about it, we attack them. The pressures of this business to be whiter, thinner, etc are strong. I am discouraged by her choice only because Renee seemed impervious to the messages in the zeitgeist. She seemed to have escaped the beauty trap.
I suppose my points are several here. Renee was considered a character actress, so I am confused as to why she felt the need to do something to her face, as she was not usually cast as the “pretty one”. Conversely however as I have just shown, the girl cleans up well lol, and knocked ALL of our socks off in Chicago, proving once and for all that she could in fact play “the pretty one”. It seems currently she is running from the Renee we know, maybe the old Renee became an unattainable beauty myth for her. We cant hold back time, and maybe she felt like she had to make a change to stay competitive in this industry that is all about the face. This hurts me. I really enjoy her as an actress and loved her original face. I hate to think we as a culture made her feel like her original face just wouldn’t do anymore. I guess in the end, not even her Oscar could make her happy with what she saw in that mirror, mirror, on the wall…
Raven Symone knows what it is like to constantly try to keep up with beauty standards as she has struggled with weight, and publicly embraced her curves, and blew up the internet recently saying she prefers some labels to others. Preferring to be labeled, “Human” and “American” as opposed to “African American” and “Gay”. Raven Symone.
Running away from your identity to embrace vague labels certainly isn’t new. Raven of course can call herself whatever she wants. I just hate that a little brown girl saw her comments and saw her reject her African roots, and erase her own heritage to be melted down into the “colorless” ( HA) “American”.
In the end we as a society can share blame for both these women feeling inadequate. Renee, has changed her face, partly I think to divorce our image of her from her younger self that is naturally changing. We punish women for aging. SO she is running as fast as she can from age. Raven, is running from the labels that to date, best describe her presentation. She wants no connection to her African roots, and wants no part of what the word Gay means. Understandable as our White Supremacist, Hetero-normative culture makes both of those positions unwanted, dangerous and scary.
I wish these two women the best. I hope we as a society are convicted by these events, and make it safer for women to feel comfortable in their skin, its original shade, and its age.