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On Renee Zellweger and Learning to Be Happy With How You Look

What people say about our looks affects us, and Renee may be living proof.

Art Credit: via DoSavannah

I would like to throw in my two cents regarding the whole Renee Zellweger situation. The actress seems to have undergone some facial transformation, and the world is rife with opinions about it.

I, like Renee (I call her Renee because I feel like we could probably be besties) described in Bridget Jones’ Diary, also have felt that one day I would end up "living a life where my major relationship was with a bottle of wine and I'd finally die fat and alone, and be found three weeks later, half-eaten by wild dogs.” The phrase “wild dogs” easily returned to my mind as I watched the media critique her new look.

Has this poor woman not been through enough? First she was too fat, then she lost too much weight, then all these caricatures came out of her with a squished face which, in turn, started a whole other string of hurtful comments. Now she appears to have un-squished her face, and the media’s at it again. Can you imagine hearing all of this and not having it affect you?

I can say from experience, it does.

As if I didn’t have enough self-esteem issues when I was 16 (life's hard for a chubby girl with braces, no style, and a Martha Stewart haircut...amiright?), one day, visiting the orthodontist, I was told I had an unattractive jawline. I was stunned. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as an unattractive jawline. All I knew was that my teeth weren’t straight, which is why I was there in the first place. Now I have crooked teeth AND an unattractive jawline, I thought. That's just great! Add that to the list of things to change about myself.  

How exactly did the orthodontist propose we fix this "unattractive jawline" situation? As he described it, I would be put under. The doctor would break my top and bottom jaw, push the bottom in and pull the top out, then wire it shut for six months. (I'll give you a second to let that sink in). I would have to carry a key for my wired-shut mouth with me at all times, because if I got sick and threw up I would choke and die if I didn't get it unlocked immediately beforehand (this is probably what would cause me to die, alone in my apartment only to be found three weeks later half-eaten by wild dogs).

At this point most of you would be thinking, "ew, no sir, and good day." But the seed of doubt was planted and I wanted to hear more. “The good news,” he continued, “is you won't have to have facial reconstructive surgery after this.” That’s a perk? Good heavens. “But you will have to be prepared for your face to look different and your voice to sound different, and (wait for it) you lose a significant amount of weight thanks to the mandatory six-month diet while your jaw heals.” BOOYA! TAKE ALL OF MY MONEYS!!

It may sound horrible now, but at that moment, that’s really how I felt. He had made me aware of a defect and told me how he could fix it—as well as several other defects I already had on my list like weight, and, you know I never really did like the way my voice sounded on recordings, did I?

The only problem was it would cost beaucoup dollars. I might have done it if I had Renee's money. But I didn’t.

I heard something I needed to hear from someone who cared about me. “There’s nothing wrong with you,” my boyfriend said. “So why would you want to change your face?” (Enter swoon here.) Plus, “What if you don’t like how you turn out?”

He was right. What if I didn't like the new look? It would have been too late if the results weren't what I expected. And what did I expect, really? Some idea of perfection in my head? If I was unhappy with myself now, how could I guarantee I’d be happy with my new look? I couldn’t.

The point is, what people say about our looks affects us, and Renee may be living proof. Unlike me, in a moment of weakness, she had the money to spend.

I personally never thought Renee was unattractive; she had a unique look. At the same time, I don't blame her for doing what she did. I wish she didn't think she had to change her face, but now that’s a moot point. So let’s finally leave the poor woman alone. As a wise person once said, "MIND YA BUSINESS!"

Because if there’s anything I learned from my flirtation with plastic surgery, it is this: Don’t underestimate the power of being told you have a flaw; you may believe it. Sure, some desires to change can be good like the desire to be healthier or to be a more caring and compassionate person. But if you change your looks artificially, you may be stepping down a rabbit hole of others making money off of your self-scrutiny—whether they be plastic surgeons or tabloids.

At some point you have to stop and be happy with yourself as you are. Despite whatever choices she made along the way, it sounds like Renee may have found that.

“Perhaps I look different,” she recently told People. “I am different. I'm happy."