Thursday 13 November 2014

Changing Face: Should we opt for surgery as we age?

We live in a funny old world, don't we? From the day we are born we are genetically programmed to age, embracing it as teenagers, desperate to be part of the adult world where we will presumably be respected and enjoy the freedoms that come with being a grown-up.

Some of us abuse our bodies somewhat in our teens and twenties, maybe even beyond those early years, thinking that wrinkles, rotten teeth and weight gain won't happen to us. But of course its happening at that very moment when we're enjoying those carefree drinks, eating that chocolate cake or smoking those 'cheeky' ciggies.

And then we start to see those signs of aging and it's a shock to the system somewhat! So what do we do? We try and fight it of course. We pile on the creams, lotions and potions (which can't work the miracles we're after), we sulk, then we get over it and accept that we are no longer a young, fresh-looking spring chicken!

But some people don't.
Photo credit: 
 Like many people, I did a double-take at the recent photos of Renee Zellweger's transformed appearance. I didn't recognise her at all. I can recall saying it was 'horrible' at first, then reflecting later that it was 'really sad'. At 45, Zellweger appears to have had some dramatic plastic surgery, although she claims it is down to an improved lifestyle.

Most of the reactions have been very negative to the Bridget Jones' Diary star, known for her trademark squinty eyes. Why are we so critical of this woman who has clearly altered her appearance to make herself feel OK with the ageing process, and presumably also to prolong her movie career? Are these people shocked (like I was) because she looks so dramatically different? Or is it more that we find it appalling that someone would go to these extremes? Either way, it tells us a lot about the society we live in.

For one, it tells us that we are hugely critical creatures. The fact that I am writing this now tells me that most of us feel it is our birth-right to openly pass judgement and critique anyone we lay eyes on: be it our own friends and friends, colleagues, or even more so, people we don't, and will never know. We do it as a matter of course, usually without any thought, and rarely any guilt. Is this a bad thing? Many would say not. It's human nature to have opinions and share them, many would say, and I partly agree. But then, it's human nature to do many things, like pass waste on a daily basis, for example; it's just we evolved to learn to do it behind closed doors!

Renee Zellweger, like all of her surgically-enhanced (or 'lifestyle'-enhanced) predecessors, did what made her happy. She did what she felt she had to do to cope with this horrific ageing process (as we're taught to see it). Yes, it is a disturbing sight to see someone change beyond all recognition, but surely she's somewhat a product of our society: a society where it's human nature to pass judgements and opinions on people, especially women. Not just judgements, but often the coldest, cruellest, most venomous and soul-destroying judgements we possibly can. If Zellweger had continued to age 'gracefully', she would still have faced the judgement of the masses one way or another. Even before her new look, the press were always quick to make unnecessary and mean comments about her 'failed' movie, bad haircut or maturing looks. She couldn't win.

Many of us who were so taken aback by Renee's appearance, felt happy to express how disturbing we found it, but some people, both journalists and Tweeters alike, wanted to completely annihilate her with nasty comments. Funnily enough, many of these people probably won't age 'gracefully' themselves, but will do what their budget allows to prolong their own looks. Are we as a society so critical of others because it takes us away from our own battles with the mirror? When we see the results of dramatic surgery, do we cringe and complain because we thank God we haven't sank to such lows of self-loathing yet? Well if we all continue slagging each others' looks off as much as we do, we won't be far behind, one way or another.

Some people believe in respecting the ageing process and don't try to fight it; others reach for the Botox to stave off those inevitable wrinkles. One thing's for sure, if we don't stop excreting our negative critiques of others into the public arena, the next generation will all be injecting and cutting their faces, without a second thought. 

post signature


  1. Love this post, definitely raises some good questions, I couldn't get over it when I seen this photo! X

    1. Thank you. It was shocking wasn't it, but I guess it's the measures some will go to.