Renee Zellweger, Raquel Welch, and an unwinnable game

October 22, 2014

Renee Zellweger showed up in public appearing different than she used to look.

Since she’s a famous person, the Internet lost its mind about it.

The same day this happened, Karina Longworth’s You Must Remember This profiled Raquel Welch and her struggle to maintain control of her image in an industry used to dictating those terms.  The timing was unintentional, but as Karina tweeted, “the insanity inspired by Hollywood’s valuation of youth/sexiness=timeless.”

Women who have the gall to age in Hollywood are faced with losing roles to younger, “sexier” actresses, or having work done and being mocked and ridiculed for doing what they need to do to keep working at their job.  As Anne Helen Petersen notes in Buzzfeed:

The performative surprise, disgust, and shame directed toward aging is super contradictory: It suggests that the ideal woman is young and without wrinkles, but attempts by women to maintain that ideal are subject to derision.

For the record, in a statement to People Magazine, Zellweger credits her new look to “living a different, happy, more fulfilling life.” If that’s the case, good for her.  If she had plastic surgery and just doesn’t want to cop to it, good for her.  If she’s happy, she’s happy.  She hasn’t made a movie since 2010, but does appear to have one with Keanu Reeves and, um, Jim Belushi in post-production.  Again, good for her.

As for Welch?  By objecting to nude/nearly-nude scenes (not on moral grounds, but on stupidity) and being perceived as “difficult,” her status as a major motion picture star was essentially cooked by the age of 40.

So: Stand up for yourself, and don’t work.  Age naturally, and don’t work.  Use medical science to combat age, and you maybe work but are definitely a punchline.  And these rules only apply to women.  BUT OTHER THAN THAT, good work if you can get it.