April 10, 2012

Ashley Judd: Fair Cop?

Ashley Judd has responded angrily in the media to recent accusations of plastic surgery, after she appeared in public with a puffy face. (Read her open letter here.) Without actually answering the question 'has she or hasn't she' - which she is in no way obliged to do - she has condemned media and the public in general of being "nasty, gendered, misogynistic and (embodying a)... degradation of our sexuality".

Now, there is nothing worse than being accused of something you haven't done. If Ms Judd hasn't had surgery, it must be enraging to be accused of having done so. I would be furious if someone accused me of having had plastic surgery. (Actually scrap that. I wouldn't. I'd be thrilled that someone thinks I'm so incredibly good looking it just couldn't be natural.)

I understand Ms Judd's anger, even if I can't exactly understand all of her points. ("The accusations and lies, introduced to the public, now apply to me as a woman across space and time; to me as any woman and to me as every woman.") However, I don't think she's entirely capturing the spirit behind the speculation on her appearance.

Yes, we women are judged on our appearances, no more so than actresses. Yes, we women are scrutinised as to how well we are aging, definitely no more so than actresses. And yes, this serves to diminish our value as human beings, to focus with such intensity on the physical and not on the emotional, intellectual or spiritual. I agree. One hundred percent.

But our public fascination with the 'who has, who hasn't' had plastic surgery is, I feel, a backlash to that. For so long we have been fed images of impossibly beautiful and youthful celebrities, who claim to look twenty-six at the age of forty-two because of nothing more than 'sunscreen', 'good genes', 'drinking lots of water', 'an organic diet', or 'insert name of ridiculously expensive cosmetic here'. And we, as the public, gaze upon these miracles of nature and think, 'WHAT IS WRONG WITH US?' Why can't we look like them? We eat well. We drink lots of water. We use sunscreen. And yet our foreheads still move and our necks are getting crinkly and we keep on looking older and older and they are FROZEN IN TIME.

Ashley Judd in a not-puffy moment
And you know why they are frozen in time? Because they are having PLASTIC SURGERY. They are NOT REAL. And whilst that's fine, that's a legitimate choice if that's what you want to do, lying about it is NOT FAIR to the average human who begins to think something is wrong with them in comparison.

I am NOT saying that Ashley Judd has had surgery. I have absolutely no idea and it is not relevant anyway. But I am saying that the motives fuelling speculation about her puffy face have less to do with pure spite, and a lot to do with us trying to deconstruct the myth of ageless beauty, so that us normal people in the trenches can stop feeling like failures for actually getting old.


  1. Totally agree with you on this. What really annoys me as a 35 year old woman is the 'hush hush' around me as friends get botox and boob jobs, but pretend it's all down to healthy diets and exercise. I just want to grow old naturally, and I wish I had some women to look to who are doing just that, in real life and in the celebrity/model world.

  2. Why is it that if a man goes grey he's distinguished, if a woman goes grey she's letting herself go? I'm co
    For table in my own body. Wrinkles grey hairs stretch marks scars acne and liver spots. They're all signs of the endurance of my life. I don't care what others think. That's the problem with society. We keep paying the media to tell us what THEY think.

  3. I am thrilled you posted this about Ashley Judd! I, for one, have been suspicious of it from the beginning! If she truly has nothing to hide, why so angry? Why is she froathing at the mouth now about how "us women." Let's get one thing straight, I'm flattered, but I am not in your little clique, Ash! I have a background in PR and what the open letter & nightly news appearance (REALLY?) is all spin. Someone wrote it & she read it in order to get the nation talking about body image and the like and what we are doing to our girls and even to our boys (don't forget the boys! --Ashley) so that the spotlight would move (if successful) away from her face and on the collective face of America! She is so not above getting something done to make herself look better -- look what industry she is in, who she is married to... Image matters and especially at her point in time. Things begin to show naturally. Those pesky "colds," of course -- that's what I mean! Not signs of aging! ;)

  4. I could not agree more. Brilliant post. Thank you from the rapidly ageing, naturally puffy Shanks

  5. Go Kerri........You're spot on there......Ageing is natural............Unfortunately..........but it reminds us we are mortal.   I think that is probably important.   It isn't fair when these women make out they are not ageing.  Isn't it bad enough that we're not allowed any body hair any more?  I just wonder, if they do all come clean about the surgery, will we all feel compelled to have it?  Will it become the new normal?

  6. Great post Kerri...ageing graceful has a lot to do with Genes...yep... mother nature. So I'm in the trenches with you. Let's grow old graceful and have some expression on our faces.

  7. Yes - and no. It's a question of semantics.

    Our Hollywood friends look reporters in the eye and say, quite innocent,y, "No, I'd never have plastic surgery."

    And they probably wouldn't. Because, for them, plastic surgery is old school. It's about facelifts, what Bette Davis and co used to do. The old 'pull up the sagging skin and sew it up along the hairline' type of thing.

    No actress now would EVER do that. Like, eeeew, gross.

    What they do, instead, is have massive amounts of fillers, injectibles, Botox, skin resurfacing and so on.

    But that's apparently not surgery, per se.

    So they're probably being quite truthful when they tell people (with face so plumped up with injectibles they can barely speak) that no, they haven't had plastic surgery. They might even pass a polygraph.

  8. I have a half-written post in lurking in the depths of my blog drafts about this. Kind of. But... it's more that I'm finding the notion of plastic surgery more and more terrifying as actors/actresses/famous peeps emerge with SCARY looking faces. My mum is visiting so I'm devouring her women's mags (NW, New Idea, W'Day etc) and some of the inhabitants are frightening: pictures of Lara Flynn Boyle; not to mention the entire cast of those 'Housewives of...' shows. I can't understand how Terri Hatcher and the like can't see how strange they're starting to look. 

    Worse still - if stars who can afford the best can't get good work done - what hope do we mere mortals have!?! 

  9. This is why I don't buy women's magazines... they focus far too much on the superficial. And it's easy to fall into the "why don't I look like that" trap. I imagine it would be hard having your looks dissected every time you make a public appearance!

  10. I don t like women's magazines... they focus far too much on the superficial that is all around us but sometimes we fall into their trap. The most important thing is to true to who you are - no matter if appearance or soul are concerned.

  11. I completely agree. If people want to have plastic surgery or procedures done then fine but it really bothers me when they lie about it. I think many celebs are guilty of it and you are right, it is unfair. It is often all too clear when they have had something done too so lying about it makes them look ridiculous. Like certain actresses who claim not to have had breast implants when there are flat chested photos available for a clear comparison! Crazy!

  12. I agree with what you and Liz are saying. Further, I have my own (Hollywood conspiracy) theory... it is entirely possible that artists sign contracts with their studios/management/publicists/whoever to never spill on these issues in order to maintain the perfect *illuuusyon*. You know:  like all the dashing young men forced to keep their sexualities and partnerships undisclosed to the public- lest the fawning fandoms move their adoration somewhere younger, or more heterosexual. (Hello Ricky Martin!)

  13. On a side track... I recall having a chat with a past boyfriends father about a popular local woman of his era (65yrs +) ... actually I regress, we were bitching about how skinny she was... (she was skinnier than me and I was only 24 ... la la I'm sure you can here my whining banter. she was also wrinkly and obviously had a lot of sun...apologies am now being nasty) 

    His comment was ' as women age they should gain a few pounds to naturally plump their flesh out, keeping them fresh faced and sexy'

    I still love this idea of a natural filler - eat up darlings - and iron out the wrinkles from the inside - I know I'll be doing that, actually I am doing that - such a shame that my 'sexy' plumpness means I spilling out (not filling out as mentioned above) and am rather invisible to the opposite sex that's just looked past me and spotted the 'Ahsley Judd 'look alike coming (spilling) out of the Woollahra Hotel

  14. I look at people like Priscilla Presley, who when she was younger, was naturally gorgeous. Now, she's something akin to Priscilla, Queen of The Desert, but only because she kept getting things tweaked or retouched. If she'd left well enough alone, she'd be looking a damn sight better than she does now. *sigh*

  15. So sad, really.  I don't envy those women.  When you're beautiful on the inside it shows on the outside. A few wrinkles don't change that.

  16. I have had nothing done to my face, and it has not affected my attractiveness to women, one iota. They love me for my fabulous sense of humour, so when they're laughing, is when I creep up, and pounce. It's when they get close enough to see the wrinkles, that it all goes wrong... ;-D 

  17. I just pure and simply despise the way women are all looking like clones of each other after having all this work done. Society's perception of what 'normal' is is shifting, and that's not good! 

    So much so, that when people see an actress on the screen who hasn't had any work done, and is in her late 40s or early 50s, they're almost reeling with 'oh, she looks so OLD!' comments. When in actual fact, she looks her age!

    You may have read a post I wrote a while back, I'm not sure, about a woman I wrote an anonymous letter to in a cafe whose friend was trying to convince her to have plastic surgery (I was sitting in the table next to her...eavesdropping!). I left the note with the waitress and left the cafe. In it, I pleaded with her not to do it, and pointed out that her friend didn't look 'good' for her age, in fact she probably looked older than her actual age because the work had made her look weird. Admittedly, the word 'freak' may have been used. (The ultimate catwoman makeover.)

    Anyway, although I know the note reached the woman (I went upstairs and watched her read it from the first floor) I will never know if it persuaded her not to have work done. But I felt compelled to write it, and I'm glad I did. 

    And I'm glad you've written this post! Very important.

    Well said. 


  18. Kerri, I am so glad you decided to write about this topic! I have felt from the very beginning that Ashley was hiding something. And to me, if she is it goes to show you just how bad, how deep the problem has become. Just come out & say it. But she admitted tonight that the world we live in makes it impossible to do just that because you are judged inch by inch everyday. Then be a role model. Be a changemaker. Don't follow the leader. It's easier said than done. I'm sure. But use that celebrity for good for goodness sake (and maybe she truly is). But my PR background tells me something different. This was all a spin job. The speech on NBC news was something written for her to read to diffuse the situation. Kerri, you are right. She never admitted if she did or did not have work done. She kept with her story! The steroids that caused the
    puffiness. If that truly was all it was why get so angry? Was it the photo comparisons? She did look remarkably different! PuffyGate may not be over yet... Or maybe fans took the bait for the most part and the book is closed. Time will tell...

  19. An Ashley Judd face montage from the '80s until present is up on the US Weekly Web site now. And something is VERY obvious. It has nothing to do with spring colds or post-flu meds. And to go on the NIGHTLY NEWS and present yourself as if you've been wronged when there are REAL problems in the world! The photos show the truth! The reason she is angry? She got caught! Why not just fess up instead of this whole charade of the news and a false campaign of women's image and men's image in today's society! :( Right now, I will never support another film, show, whatever she is in. Not seeing it.

  20.  You people are sick and stupid jealous morons. People think they have a right to not be jealous and that it is unfair? you guys are crazy.


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