Celebrity victimization

What do reactions to plastic surgery say about society?

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Contributed Image

A couple of weeks ago, Renée Zellweger made headlines for, according to Us Weekly, a “shocking plastic surgery” performed to win her new roles due to her aging.

The actress, now 45, apparently felt a compelling need to change her natural face, with the most significant change being performed on her eyelids.

Popular media reacted hysterically. Media outlets such as Entertainment Tonight, TMZ and Us Weekly immediately started criticizing her decision and forming theories on the reason, the most popular one having been discussed above. Other comments included how she was “just another Hollywood actress,” and that she has “gone too far.”

My favourite comment, though, was, “If she hadn’t been with her boyfriend, I wouldn’t have recognized who she was.”

It reflects something about our society, doesn’t it? How dare this woman change something about herself? The truth is that the reaction tells more of a story than the act itself. It uncovers the disturbing and dangerous psychology that society at large has toward its celebrities, which is that they exist for our entertainment and approval alone.

The negative reaction shows that people instinctively feel as though they are personal stakeholders in Zellweger’s life, and we are entitled to be outraged at her own conscientious decision, which she likely made after a lot of consideration.

In our ignorance, we forget that the famous are intelligent beings who are capable of thinking for themselves.

Does it not parallel the way in which we allow — or encourage — paparazzi to follow celebrities around, invading their sacred right to privacy and documenting their every move for our mindless consumption?

And then, should they have the nerve to stand up for themselves and express their frustrations, we criticize them for immaturity and not understanding how “it comes with the fame?”

Is this what we have come to? We can remember celebrity birthdays but have forgotten how to be decent human beings.

Let’s re-write the headline: rather than “Renée Zellweger’s New Face Due to Roles Drying Up,” how about “Renée Zellweger Wants to Look a Certain Way”? It seems like there’s always some sort of judgment going on whenever it comes to celebrities.

But let’s stop beating around the bush and get to the base of what’s going on here: this is a tale of envy, of where our intense jealousy for those who are more beautiful, more talented and more fortunate than us makes us believe that we can treat them as sub-humans to be tortured.

Allowing this kind of abuse is the only way that we can reconcile in our hearts that their lives are so much better than ours, as we fool ourselves into believing that these celebrities are depraved, miserable things rather than people to be respected.

The moral from this story is clear: Before reflecting on the choices of others, try reflecting on your own. You might find that Zellweger is not, in fact, the ugly one.

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