This post is a part of our People’s Insights monthly brief for October, called “On Responding.”
A new look
Renee Zellweger made a comeback to the public spotlight with her appearance at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards. Entertainment media and Twitterati gossiped about her new look and speculated that Zellweger must have had some plastic surgery work, because she looked “unrecognizable” as The Daily Mail and Fox News shouted in headlines. Even the New York Times and Time magazine commented on the look or rather, on people’s responses.
Overnight, media sites created slideshows of before and after photos and asked plastic surgeons to explain what Zellweger could have had done. Others debated why her new look was such a hot topic of discussion. Yet others analyzed the impact of show business on aging actresses.
The debate raged on, did she / didn’t she?, looks good / looks awful, yay plastic surgery / nay plastic surgery, and a quick two days later, Zellweger decided to speak up, to get others to calm down.
Response: I’m happy and thrilled that it shows
“It seems the folks who come digging around for some nefarious truth which doesn’t exist won’t get off my porch until I answer the door,” Zellweger said to People magazine, and then shared her view on the matter.
She deflects the attention away from her physical appearance to focus on happiness and health:
“I’m glad folks think I look different! I’m living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I’m thrilled that perhaps it shows.
“My friends say that I look peaceful. I am healthy. For a long time I wasn’t doing such a good job with that. I took on a schedule that is not realistically sustainable and didn’t allow for taking care of myself. Rather than stopping to recalibrate, I kept running until I was depleted and made bad choices about how to conceal the exhaustion. I was aware of the chaos and finally chose different things.”
And, she subtly reminded people that she should look different as she ages, but again, she’s happy.
“People don’t know me in my 40s. People don’t know me [as] healthy for a while. Perhaps I look different. Who doesn’t as they get older?! Ha. But I am different. I’m happy.”
Reactions: Dignified vs. hollow
Several people appreciated the way Zellweger handled the criticism and nastiness, calling it “dignified” and “brilliant.” Many focused on the fact that she was happy, saying that’s all that mattered. Others found it hollow that she chose not to comment on the rumors of plastic surgery.
But her statement did provide some closure and the conversations finally began to simmer down.