Renee Zellweger’s back? Wait … who the heck…

Renee Zellweger, who’s performances in Reality Bites, Empire Records, Cold Mountain, Chicago, and Jerry Maguire I loved, is back in the spot light. But not so much for her upcoming film The Whole Truth.

It’s because she doesn’t look like Renee Zellweger any more. Okay, I know people can change in five years … but they don’t tend to be unrecognizable when they come back.

Have you read my rant about how our culture is obsessed with looking young and denying that the process of aging is incurable? Or the one where I point out that no one can look perfect all the time and expecting our celebrities (our female ones especially) to be red carpet ready all the time is stupid?

This isn’t about that.

If Zellweger wanted to get something lifted, tucked or tightened, okay. That’s a hazard of our appearance obsessed culture that is especially harsh on women in the spotlight, and she probably has the money to afford all the medical hoodoo and personal trainers she could ever want to maintain her looks.

It’s that she looks different enough from the Renee Zellweger that when a coworker showed some of us the article on her smartphone, we thought that the press had used the wrong picture. She has said she’s happy that she looks different, and as my mother has observed, it’s her face she can do whatever she wants with it.

But, I’m going to miss her original face.

That was the face I watched all through high school, college and into my adulthood. I’ve seen that face for the majority of my life. That face was the face of characters that made me squeal with laughter, cheer when they found their confidence, and cry with them.

It was a beautiful face without fitting into conventional standards of Hollywood beauty. So, yeah. I’m going to miss Renee Zellweger’s face.

Aging Resistant Culture

At what point did aging become something we aren’t supposed to do? And something we should be ashamed of when it does happen? When our hair starts going grey we’re supposed to dye it, and having our roots show is a fate worse than wrinkles. Except we’re not supposed to get those either. Our skin isn’t supposed to sag and the gods of media forbid that our butts and busts start heading south. Losing your hair? There’s an app for that! Or at least there are medications, oral and topical, for that as well as surgical options.

But why? Why all the dyes, creams, lotions, pills, lifts and tucks? When did aging become a horrible illness?

Ah, probably always. The myths and legends of things like the Fountain of Youth, ambrosia, and various golden fruits have been around since before recorded human history.

The problem is that it’s now a big business. The cosmetics industry is laughing all the way to the bank because of our obsession with looking younger for longer. And they’re using advertising to make us feel insecure about time’s effect on us. Getting old is not longer proof that we’ve survived, it’s almost a social crime. We spend the first two decades of our lives trying to grow up, then we spend the rest of our lives trying to convince everyone that we’re still young.

Y’know what? My hair is starting to go grey. My waist is thicker than it was ten years ago. I’ve never had a butt, and my bust lost the battle with gravity a long time ago. I’ve got a frown line between my eyebrows, creases in my forehead, and I’m starting to get crow’s feet at the corners of my eyes. But other than generally take care of myself, I’m not planning to do a damn thing about it.

Because I am getting older. And there’s nothing wrong with that.