renee zellweger head shot

Renee Zellweger tackles plastic surgery rumours in powerful open letter

"We can do better."

By Amy Lewis, 08 August 2016
Renee Zellweger tackles plastic surgery rumours in powerful open letter

Renee Zellweger, Oscar-winning actress and star of the Bridget Jones’s Diary film series, has long been accused of having had cosmetic surgery to alter her appearance.

Not that it’s anyone’s business, but I did not make a decision to alter my face.

The rumours kicked up in 2014, after Renee attended a red carpet event for the first time in five years. Several tabloids suggested that she looked a little different (as most people may well do, after five years away from the spotlight), and the rumours surrounding whether or not she’d opted for plastic surgery began.

Several A-listers have previously spoken in Renee’s defence, including Reese Witherspoon and Rose McGowan, accusing the media of very unfair treatment. Renee, however, remained silent through it all. Until now.

Following Jennifer Aniston’s lead, who recently wrote a piece for Huffington Post on why she’s fed up of seeing stories about whether or not she might be pregnant, Renee has written a powerful essay for the same publication.

Addressing the surgery rumours, why she has chosen to stay silent until now, and the reasons behind her decision to finally speak out, the actress tackles the way in which certain media outlets choose to speculate over the appearances of women, and the damage this can cause.

Titled, We Can Do Better, Renee writes: “In October 2014, a tabloid newspaper article reported that I’d likely had surgery to alter my eyes. It didn’t matter; just one more story in the massive smut pile generated every day by the tabloid press and fueled by exploitative headlines and folks who practice cowardly cruelty from their anonymous internet pulpits.

“In the interest of tabloid journalism, which profits from the chaos and scandal it conjures and injects into people’s lives and their subsequent humiliation, the truth is reduced to representing just one side of the fictional argument. I can’t imagine there’s dignity in explaining yourself to those who trade in contrived scandal, or in seeking the approval of those who make fun of others for sport. It’s silly entertainment, it’s of no import, and I don’t see the point in commenting.

“However, in our current culture of unsolicited transparency, televised dirty laundry, and folks bartering their most intimate details in exchange for attention and notoriety, it seems that the choice to value privacy renders one a suspicious character. Disingenuous. A liar with nefarious behavior to conceal. ‘She denies’, implies an attempt to cover up the supposed tabloid ‘exposed truth’.”

The actress goes on to explain that since the original rumour is now being used as a supposed ‘fact’, and that it may influence the way other women feel about themselves and their appearances, she felt the need to clear things up.

“Not that it’s anyone’s business, but I did not make a decision to alter my face and have surgery on my eyes,” she notes.

The essay has been widely applauded by both women and men everywhere, particularly for the way in which Renee highlights the damage speculation over the looks and bodies of women in the spotlight may be affecting younger generations.

“Too skinny, too fat, showing age, better as a brunette, cellulite thighs, facelift scandal, going bald, fat belly or bump? Ugly shoes, ugly feet, ugly smile, ugly hands, ugly dress, ugly laugh; headline material which emphasises the implied variables meant to determine a person’s worth, and serve as parameters around a very narrow suggested margin within which every one of us must exist in order to be considered socially acceptable and professionally valuable, and to avoid painful ridicule.

“The resulting message is problematic for younger generations and impressionable minds, and undoubtedly triggers myriad subsequent issues regarding conformity, prejudice, equality, self acceptance, bullying and health.”

Renee finishes her letter with a call to both the creators and audiences of tabloid media, noting that we all make the decision to do better by women and society as a whole, by choosing more carefully the stories we read and discuss.

Well done, Renee!