The Curious Face of Renee Zellweger   Leave a comment

renee zLeft: February 2004, BAFTA Awards | Middle: February 2013, Oscars | Right: October 2014, Elle Women in Hollywood Celebration

The Internet community has taken a new target — and its’s Oscar winner Renee Zellweger. Making her appearance at the Elle Women in Hollywood Celebration yesterday, the 45-year old actress, who rarely comes to showbiz event nowadays, showed up donning a “new face” so to speak. Gone were the squinty eyes look and now present are her puffier lips. The only thing more visible than her new look though are the negative comments judging her about it.

During the early to mid-Aughts, Renee Zellweger was one of Hollywood’s it girls. She basically fits the mold of a Jennifer Lawrence (in terms of being one of the go-to girls in terms of juicy lead female parts) meets Amy Adams (before the latter started to hit big). She wasn’t only an ideal lead for female driven films, but she was a notable actress of her generation, even picking three Oscar nods in a row and winning for her third one, as the outgoing Ruby Theses in the late Anthony Minghella’s “Cold Mountain” ten years ago.

Throughout her career, Renee’s physical looks has always been one of the favorite topics of the media. Remember how people would make big deal of her drastic weight changes when she shot Bridget Jones’ Diary? It was during those years when they scrutinize her because she gets paid to gain weight and how she would lose them again once she’s finished filming. The same criticisms appeared again when she shot the sequel to it.

To be blunt about it, Renee doesn’t really fit the “totally pretty” mold of Hollywood reserved for the likes of Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly during the Golden Era or even those of Charlize Theron and her Chicago co-star Catherine Zeta Jones. Prior to this “transformed look”, she was mostly known for her squinty eyes as if she has chewed some sour lemon candies, and even gave birth to some puns and memes such as this one. But what one might consider as Renee’s totally unique look can be someone else’s definition of not pretty. While there’s really nothing wrong about having different perspective of beauty, the reality is that its impact transcends further than the mere spectators commenting about it.

Even in her heydays as a movie actress, Renee doesn’t seem like your “typical movie star” star. If you watch her past interviews, she’s quite the shy and timid one. I don’t know if that counts as an indication of her confidence, but it won’t take a super scientist to figure out how her career has been doing the past few years. Her last movie was way back in 2010, and it was even a VOD release. When she made her first major appearance at the Oscars last year (being reunited with the cast of Chicago), she looked a bit uncomfortable even passing the announcement to co-presenter Richard Gere. If this has anything to do with her feeling the need to “correct” one’s looks, then isn’t it every inch her right?

The truth of the matter is that Hollywood and actresses have a very strange relationship. Like many other actresses in Hollywood, some even before Renee Zellweger, to lie low for quite some time automatically means that there’s a new Barbie doll in the waiting. After all, not everyone can be a Julia Roberts or a Meryl Streep to stand the test of time. Thus many actresses resort to different means in order to guard their territory. Surgery is a very “Hollywood” thing to do. While the likes of Meg Ryan, Joan Allen, Teri Hatcher, and Nicole Kidman are some of its notorious “customers”, there’s an unspoken truth about how almost everyone subscribes to it. Whether they’re obvious or not, it’s far more “common” knowledge out there to resort to it than one can usually imagine. When it comes to actresses and looks, it seemed like when a person looks great, you commend them, but when an actress looks “weird”, you blame them for doing what a lot of them does. In fact, the only difference they have is the names of their surgeons, and not the act of undergoing surgery. It is actually a lose-lose situation for Renee if we’re being honest about it, it’s either she’d be accused as lemon girl or just a new person. And so she decides for herself.

What’s disappointing about this “fiasco” (if you can even call it as such) isn’t the fact that she changed her face. It’s her friggin face after all; she can do what the hell she wants with it. I personally think she looks happier and more confident, albeit she looks like another person so good for her. It’s more of the harmful notion that we are now quick to dictate (and not judge) on how people should appear or look. Do we really have the same option to lambast them for it? And isn’t it ridiculous how superficial that was? Halle Berry has been sporting the same looks for 20 years now, but no one’s saying a thing because she still passes the society’s notion of “appealing”. I think it’s equally worrisome when you think about it how a person has been looking the same for two decades now, yet everyone gives her a free pass because she still inhabits the people’s definition of beautiful. It is Renee’s right to do something with her face. It is her right just like many out there to do the same. It is hers to deal if she’s happy with the end result, not for us to impose how she should feel about it.

It’s really sad when you think about it — how these Hollywood actresses get criticized for not keeping up with their looks. Apparently, Hollywood isn’t the only one guilty about it —  society can be harsher and more guilty of such. But hey, these are the same types of accusations that Jessica Lange received in the late 90s to early 2000s when she was “obsessed” with surgery, yet she managed to come back big time. Here’s hoping Renee follows suit.  In any case, someone better cast her as Claire Underwood’s sister in “House of Cards.” For the mean time, I’m happy to learn that she herself is happy with her looks. 🙂

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

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Posted October 22, 2014 by Nicol Latayan in Films

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