Tuesday, April 10, 2012

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others

First, there was the Samantha Brick article in which she announced to the waiting public that Life’s Not Fair because She Is Beautiful. This was followed by the outcry, followed by the weepy response from Ms Brick, followed by an unknowable number of tweets, comments and blogs, including mine (and a couple of belters by Meshel Laurie and Natalie Bochenski …and now, we have Ashley Judd wondering why women are asking questions about whether she's had plastic surgery.

Unfortunately for the chronically beautiful Ms Judd, Ms Brick got in ahead of her, and many of us have been trying to figure out what exactly she’s on…about. Unlike Ms Judd, Ms Brick is simply not beautiful enough to attract the kind of male attention and female hatred she claims she endures. We thought she was literally deluded.

And then Ashley Judd stepped up with another perspective. Yes, she’s put on some weight, but the response from her “friends” and colleagues was to assume she’d had some work done. The assumption is that if a woman over forty who has no wrinkles, it can’t possibly be natural. What absolute garbage that is!
It’s the old question about beauty again, but looking at these two stories, a new question arises. Does anyone at all have the right to comment on the beauty of another? If beauty is within the eye of the beholder, we don’t we just leave it there? Why do we constantly feel the need to comment on the physical attractiveness (or otherwise) of people around us?

It’s literally not all bad though. If you get a compliment, that’s usually not a problem, unless it’s entirely inappropriate (like your father in law complimenting your cleavage).

Then there’s the uncomfortable comments on appearance that have to be made. I used to work with a woman who had…shall we say…and odour. Day after day for weeks on end, we tried to ignore the odour, and of course, when we had the conversation, it turned out to be originating in her fur-lined boots. And the shorter conversations are rarely easier –it’s okay to tell someone quietly when they have spinach in their teeth, but what about if they’ve tucked their skirt into their undies and walked out of the loo with metres of toilet paper streaming behind them? Someone has to say something.

But that’s real life.
Celebrities are different. They’re paid a ridiculous amount of money for doing what they do: acting, singing, modelling, designing, sporting… They get paid that because they are news-worthy, they are looked at and admired, often for their physical beauty. For many, their looks become their brand. Imagine for a moment if Dolly had a breast reduction, or Angelina had her lips thinned…or if Ashley Judd went from a size 4 to a size 8.

Uhoh. That’s what happened, isn’t it? A celebrity with a strong visual brand changed her appearance.
Honestly, I wasn’t aware of the rounder, snugglier Ashley until I saw some twitter talk this morning. She's as beautiful as always, so I don't see the issue. Apparently her “friends” cared though. They cared enough to suggest that she might have had some fillers injected into her face? Is that just another version of the hate that Samantha Brick says she feels?

I doubt it: if you increase by a couple of dress sizes, there’s a very good chance that it’s not just your cheeks that are fuller. She’s have a whole new set of curves to be proud of, and a whole new wardrobe to show them off in. Could her “friends” not see that?

And why was it okay for them to suggest fillers or surgery or some other cosmetic procedure which is clearly not something Ms Judd would do? The comments seem to have come from media people, celebrities themselves, entertainment reporters, columnists, television hosts. Is that the difference? They do live in a different world from the rest of us.

I recall a year or two ago when former Brisbane television news-reader Jillian Whiting went to get her hair done. It was her first visit to the salon since leaving the network, and therefore, the first time she’d had to pay – or even see – the bill. She was outraged at $400 for a hairdo. Guess what, Jillian – so were we. It’s a different world. Our standards are different.
None of that helps poor unhinged Samantha Brick though. She straddles the worlds of celebrity and commondom, and isn’t comfortable in either.

Beauty is still only skin deep, unless you make your living from it, in which case it might just be important. But if you don't make your living from it, it's shouldn't matter as much, right?

Yes, I'm serious. Why can't we try to get past the way people look?

Look closely at the picture above. One of those images doesn’t belong. Can you tell which one is out of place?

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