Why Getting Older Has Made Me More Indecisive and Less Opinionated, and What That Has to Do with Renee Zellweger’s Face

(originally posted on www.createdbychance.blogspot.com on 10/23/14)

Unless you are completely disconnected from the Internet, chances are you read something about Renee Zellweger’s face over the past couple of days. It seems just about every media outlet, celebrity journalist, blogger, and anyone with a Twitter account has piped in with their two cents. Scroll through your newsfeed and you’ll no doubt see before and after pictures of her face, expressions of shock and dismay, and opinions about women over 40 getting plastic surgery. Some people find her new look appalling. Some think we should just ignore it. Others have defended her.

My original reaction was one of mildly shocked confusion. How could someone’s face change so much that they no longer look like themselves? I clicked back and forth between pictures, trying to figure out what was different, but the changes are subtle. Yet, there’s no denying she no longer looks like Bridget Jones. I felt the familiar mild annoyance I generally do that women over 40 continue to perpetuate this notion that we all have to live up to impossible beauty standards, and continue to look like young versions of ourselves, even when we’re older. I, myself, have considered plastic surgery on this nose of mine, thinking that would solve some of my problems and people in Hollywood would like me better. So far, I’ve succeeded in talking myself out of that. I have worked very hard to like who I am, and I don’t really want to undergo elective surgery that may drastically alter my appearance. I want to look like me when I look in the mirror.

But then I read her response in People magazine and I thought, “Hey, she’s right, who am I to shame someone whose appearance has changed?” My confusion and annoyance about the differences in her face morphed into annoyance about all the attention people were paying to it. I liked that she had made many of the same changes that I’ve been working on as I get older, namely slowing down, spending more time with a few important people, getting more rest, nurturing my creativity, and learning more about my authentic self.

But then, goddammit, I read this article in LA Weekly, and my opinion changed again. Amy Nicholson makes a great argument that it’s okay – nay, that it’s actually very important – that we’re upset about Renee’s Zellweger’s face. The actress’s refusal to acknowledge that she has had any cosmetic procedures to alter her look, that they are instead the result of being well-rested and happy, is a terrible affront to all us average Sallys out there. No matter how much sleep I get, or how many home-grown vegetables I eat, I’m never going to look like a “movie star”. Nicholson argues that her changed appearance just proves that talent and personality are much less important than beauty.

I already know that beauty is king, I don’t need any additional reinforcement of that idea.

So, here’s where it gets tricky for me. I appreciate Zellweger’s response that people should focus more on the positive changes she’s made in her life to make it happier and more fulfilling, and spend less time obsessing about her looks. But I also agree with Nicholson, that ignoring it does nothing to mitigate the idea that women need to always look as beautiful and as young as possible, even if it means going under the knife.

This makes me want to tear my hair out! I don’t know what to think anymore!

I was very opinionated as a teenager, and in my early 20s. But since I hit 30, if you present me with two opposing ideas and make a good argument for each, I cannot decide how to feel about it. I no longer see issues in black and white. I’ve had too many life experiences, things I thought would never happen to me and family, that have forever altered my ability to see issues as inherently good or inherently bad. I tend to shy away from hot button issues because my thoughts aren’t generally solid one way or another. I’m terrible at arguing a point, especially with someone who is very persuasive, because I then see it from another point of view and my own arguments seem hollow.

I thought this development as I get older, this inability to be fervently opinionated, was the result of having a more tender heart, of feeling a little weaker. A friend (someone who is, coincidentally, a great persuader), challenged me that it is not weakness, but wisdom.

I’d like to believe my indecisive nature is a result of wisdom gained over the years, but I’m not so sure (ha! There’s that indecisiveness again). Now with Renee Zellweger staring me in the face with her new face, this issue is more confusing than ever.

Does anyone else have this problem?