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- Left-wing government's currency controls mean shortages of make-up
- Aspiring model uses lipstick as eye shadow and barber can't find wax
- Country loves cosmetic surgery but is short of breast implants
- Eight Miss Universes have been from Venezuela including current holder
It is the country which idolises beauty queens and adores plastic surgery - but whose hard-left government's policies have left it struggling with shortages of everything women want to stay beautiful.
Venezuela's famed models and aspiring beauty queens are struggling to doll themselves up as shortages turn eye shadow and breast implants into coveted luxuries.
Even basics like deodorant are now at times tricky to find as strict currency controls have led to a scarcity of dollars for imported goods.
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A shortage of beauty products and cosmetic surgery supplies - including breast implants - has hit Venezeula. The country is said to have one of the largest number of people to have undergone cosmetic operations such as breast augmentation, who include Georgina Osuna, a student, 23, who was treated by Dr Jonathan Veliz
A teacher demonstrates make-up techniques on the face of a student, during a class at a modelling academy in Caracas. Women are improvising, with some using lipstick as eye shadow because currency controls imposed by a hard-left government have left suppliers struggling to import supplies
Even stilletos are in short supply in Venezuela. In a Caracas modelling academy, some are reduced to taping themselves into shoes that are too large for them. The academies train girls as young as three in a country where being a beauty queen is revered
Students at a Caracas modelling academy are learning to model without all the make-up and shoes they need. Currency controls are causing shortages of goods of all kind in the country, from toilet roll to razors
Determined models and pageant competitors are doing their utmost to keep the show on the road.
'I exhaust myself visiting pharmacies, I look everywhere for makeup,' said Ileanne Davila, a 19-year-old civil engineering student and model.
'Once I couldn't find red eye shadow... so I used lipstick,' she said as she took a break from a photo shoot. 'I can't find powder for my skin color. So sometimes I mix two hues.'
Her long dark hair straightened and her lips and eyes covered in black makeup for a rock'n'roll-inspired shoot, Davila said she aspires to break into commercials or television because, she explained with a sigh, she is not tall enough to compete in Miss Venezuela.
Davila is one of dozens of girls aged three and up who attend a modeling academy run by Gisselle Reyes, a former Miss Venezuela candidate who now prepares girls for the pageant, to learn how to strut down a runway and perfect pageant etiquette in the hopes of one day being crowned queen.
But even at this glamorous holdout in Caracas' affluent Altamira area, shortages are crimping plans to follow in Reyes' footsteps - sometimes quite literally.
Young girls don their mothers' heels because they can't find stilettos their size. Teachers usually make them work the runway barefoot - or strap them into their mothers' oversized shoes with scotch tape.
Girls share makeup and look up YouTube videos on how to make deodorant at home. Even when they can find the beauty products they want, some are unable to pay for them as scarcity drives up prices.
Davila estimates the price of a good face powder, for instance, has increased 500 percent in the last 18 months.
Modelling is a career of choice in Venezuela with the country producing more Miss Universes than anywhere except the United States. But even competitors for Miss Venezuela are struggling to get basic supplies
Designer Nidal Nouaihed takes out a dress from a garment bag before fitting it on a client, at his office in Caracas. He struggles to import materials but says the richest customers are still buying
Designer Nidal Nouaihed puts the final touches to a dress worn by a client at his office in Caracas. The outfitter of choice for many beauty queens, he has to battle shortages caused by currency controls
Even aspiring Miss Venezuelas are having trouble getting their hands on makeup ahead of the pageant next month, said an instructor who, like the candidates, is barred from speaking to the press in the run-up to the event.
The quest for beauty is one of the rare pastimes that unites this polarized oil-rich nation.
The country boasts seven Miss Universes, a record only topped by the United States. Venezuela is thought to have one of the highest rates of breast implants in the world, and plastic surgeries are sometimes given away as raffle prizes.
NOT TO MENTION BLACKOUTS....
Venezuela's government says parts of the capital and seven western states were left without electricity after two generating plants had technical problems.
The blackout began at 1.30 pm on Thursday in Caracas and lasted about an hour. It caused traffic jams in parts of the capital as street lights stopped working and office buildings were evacuated, causing hundreds of people to walk in the middle of streets because sidewalks were overflowing.
Electrical energy minister Jesse Chacon said frequency fluctuations caused problems in "two large generating machines" in the Andean region. He said seven of Venezuela's 23 states were affected.
The socialist country suffered major blackouts in 2012 and 2013. The administration blamed those outages on sabotage, while opponents said they were the result of government incompetence.
But now, doctors say beloved Botox and breast implants can be hard to come by.
When Maria Eugenia Espinoza decided to replace her eight-year old implants, equivalent to bra size 36, she was told only implants equivalent to size 42 and up were available.
'Imagine!' said the 46 year-old mother of two. 'I would have looked like one of those dancing girls!'
After searching for five months, Espinoza found implants in the nick of time for her scheduled operation.
Critics have long said Venezuela's cult of beauty objectifies women and promotes shallow values. And Osmel Sousa, the president of the Miss Venezuela pageant, gave them more ammunition when he said last year that ugly women invented the concept of inner beauty to feel better about themselves.
The shortages of beauty products can seem frivolous when compared with the scarcity of medicines and basic goods from flour to diapers.
Venezuela's scarcity index hit a record 28 percent in January, indicating that 28 of 100 basic consumer goods were scarce. The central bank hasn't given data on shortages since.
Currency controls first enacted by former socialist president Hugo Chavez more than a decade ago mean companies struggle to get hold of the hard currency required for imports.
Chavez's hand-picked successor, President Nicolas Maduro, blames the shortages on rapacious smugglers who scoop up price-controlled goods, including shampoo, to resell them on the local black market or even in neighboring Colombia.
Venezuela has a history of producing beauty queens including the current Miss Universe, Gabriela Isler, who was crowned in Russia last year (left) and is building a lucrative modelling career (right) as a result
Some government supporters scoff that a pampered elite is overstating the magnitude of shortages to try to weaken the president.
Venezuela is grappling with 60 percent annual inflation and sky-high crime rates, and is widely believed to be in recession.
Maduro says the country's problems are the result of an "economic war" waged against him by Venezuelan business leaders and foreign companies.
But, paradoxically, some say the hardships are actually pushing some Venezuelans to dedicate even more time to their appearance.
'Venezuelans ... might not have enough money to eat, but they'll have enough money to be beautiful,' said Miguel Torres, who runs a beauty parlor and used to work for Miss Venezuela.
Jeweller George Wittels designs the crowns for many Venezuelan beauty pageants. But the women taking part struggle without access to basic make-up. The cost of face powder has soared 500 per cent in just 18 months
Not only women are affected by the lack of beauty products. Daniel Eduardo, a barber in Caracas spends his days off in search of wax - and uses gelatin when it has run out
Greisy Palacios, a 30 year-old receptionist, spends hours in lines for everything from soap to nail polish remover and says she would only leave her house without makeup if she were depressed.
'If you're not made up, don't go out,' she said as she got her nails done. But Palacios is finding it ever harder to abide by that mantra.
Recently, for instance, friends alerted her that razors had arrived at a nearby pharmacy. Palacios dashed out of the office.
'But the lines are like a kilometer long, just for razors!' she said. 'I'm going crazy waiting for the country to change. I regret voting for Maduro.'
The industry that caters to image-conscious Venezuelans is also feeling the pinch.
In a Caracas salon, beautician Janeth Canaveral points to a small table covered with a dozen pots of creams and wax: 'That's what I have left.'
At this rate, Canaveral, a single mother of three, said she will be forced to shut down her business within a year. 'How do I start again at age 50?'
Shortages are a fact of every day life in Venezuela, with shoppers having to rush when items become available
Imported products are more expensive and scarcer because of currency controls which stop dollars being brought into the country
Barber Daniel Eduardo said he spends Mondays - his day off - hunting down products.
'If I don't have wax I go out to walk and look for some,' he said, speaking above pulsating music in a buzzing salon in Caracas' Catia slum.
'And if there's no wax, well, I use gelatin,' he shrugged. 'You have to be a magician here.'
Bigger companies are often better able to cope with red tape and expensive imports.
Nidal Nouaihed, a designer who has dressed the current Miss Venezuela, hired five people to help him import fabrics like silk and chiffon. Costs have skyrocketed, but he says his high-end business is still booming.
'During times of crisis, there's a lot of anxiety and people want more luxury, want to be more glamorous, they want to forget,' said Nouaihed. 'We create a parallel world.'
The Bridget Jones actress had chops in both comedy and drama, but her presence was neutral, underwhelming, molding without fuss to fit the needs of the film and the character at hand.
It’s possible that Renée Zellweger has been in the news more in the last 72 hours than she has been over the entirety of the last decade combined. Her personal life has been analyzed, assessed, condemned, and commended from every possible angle over the last week, but Zellweger, whatever else she might be or might do, is a professional. So let’s take a moment to consider a career that has been misunderstood, even maligned, for nearly as long as she has been in the spotlight.
Renée Zellweger’s big break came in Cameron Crowe’s 1996 romantic comedyJerry Maguire, as Dorothy Boyd, the single mom who falls in love with Tom Cruise’s titular sports agent. In Zellweger’s hands Dorothy was sweet without being a saint, perky without being a pushover. She has chemistry with Cruise, she’s a believable mom, she’s able to sell the film’s romanticism without self-consciousness. It’s a good performance, even if it’s not a revelatory one, but probably more importantly for Zellweger, it was the kind of performance that made casting her look easy.
What was clear after Jerry Maguire was that Zellweger was neither a Julia Roberts wellspring of personality, nor the counterculture alternative of someone like her Empire Records costar Liv Tyler. Instead Zellweger was a character actress who was Hollywood-pretty. She had chops in both comedy and drama, but her presence was neutral, underwhelming, molding without fuss to fit the needs of the film and the character at hand.
Zellweger could fill in the lines without pulling focus, and it didn’t take long for her to emerge as a choice lead actress for films that weren’t especially concerned with their lead actresses. After Jerry Maguire, her best performances came in films that took the film-carrying weight of stardom off her shoulders. Most notably, Zellweger made for a great foil to Meryl Streep in the family drama One True Thing, and she was a delightfully loony center to the ensemble comedyNurse Betty.
But if Zellweger was content taking supporting roles before her big break withJerry Maguire, after it, she was not so eager to fall back into the chorus.
For every success like One True Thing, she left in her wake awkward attempts likeA Price Above Rubies or The Bachelor, forgettable films that might have been more worthwhile had their plum leading roles been occupied by a more dominant presence than what Zellweger could offer, despite her not-inconsiderable talents.
However, middling hits and middling failures aren’t a crime in Hollywood. It’s always been an industry more afraid to lose money than it is eager to earn it. Zellweger’s career might have carried on as it did through the late 1990s—a hit here, a miss there—if only it weren’t for Bridget Jones.
In Zellweger’s hands, Bridget’s voice was tart, her manner a little crude and more than a little bit funny, and not for nothing, even at a mere 130 pounds, Bridget Jones looked more like the average woman than any other woman at the box office.
If Jerry Maguire was a break, Bridget Jones’s Diary was a starmaker. In Zellweger’s hands, Bridget’s voice was tart, her manner a little crude and more than a little bit funny, and not for nothing, even at a mere 130 pounds, Bridget Jones looked more like the average woman than any other woman at the box office. Internationally, and on Zellweger’s shoulders alone, the film outgrossed Jerry Maguire. Zellweger won her first Oscar nomination, and almost overnight was thrown into the big leagues.
The next several years would make up the most high profile moment in Renée Zellweger’s career. In 2002, she took a key supporting role in the high profile adaptation of the bestseller White Oleander, and was top-billed in that year’s Best Picture winner, the Rob Marshall musical,Chicago.
Chicago was a hit by every measure of the word. Zellweger earned another Oscar nomination for her troubles, and no doubt her involvement in that picture earned Zellweger her next starring role in Peyton Reed’s retro comedy Down with Love. Yet despite what appeared to be success on paper, Zellweger’s professional fate was by no means settled. Zellweger had finally earned the clout to begin to assert some personality onscreen, but what had been tart and charming just one year before in Bridget Jones was deemed sour when placed under the spotlight and the scrutiny of stardom.
We like your movies. We just don’t like you.
By the time she won her Oscar in 2003 for Cold Mountain, a moment that should have been an unquestionable career peak, Zellweger’s clout in the industry had dried up, along with the job offers. Since 2005’s Cinderella Man, her last brush with the big leagues, Zellweger’s career has ranged from disappointment to embarrassment. At the present, it has been four years since Zellweger appeared onscreen, in any capacity.
In another era of Hollywood, when studios owned stars’ contracts, when actors weren’t free to make their decisions for themselves, Renée Zellweger might not have been able to shoot for the stars the way she has throughout her career. Under a studio manager like Louis B. Mayer or Harry Cohn, Zellweger’s options would have likely been limited, managed, predetermined. Actors fought for their freedom from the studio system for this very reason, for the opportunity to pursue work that was satisfying to their artistic impulse rather than to their public image.
But the price of artistic freedom comes at the expense of professional protection.
In the studio era, Renée Zellweger might have never reached the highs of Bridget Jones, but she also wouldn’t have experienced the public embarrassments of New in Town or My One and Only. For women in Hollywood right now, there are few crimes more guileless and more harshly punished than wanting to be a movie star and not being particularly good at it. As an actress, it’s not enough to be good at acting, you also have to be your own divination rod for the industry, perfectly understanding your place without being told.
For all her good fortune, Renée Zellweger has never been able to accept that what others want from her is not the same as what she wants from herself. Can you blame her?
She’d always thought she’d age gracefully — and naturally. So why did she go under the needle?
When I was little I often narrowed my eyes and wrinkled my forehead when things weren’t going my way. I remember my dad saying in his gentle teasing manner, “be careful, those wrinkles might freeze.”
I’m not sure how much my childhood expression had to do with it, but by my college graduation, horizontal lines were permanently etched in my forehead. Over time, though I didn’t smoke and was careful in the sun, the wrinkles became more prominent.
I picked up my simple beauty regime from my mother. She washed her face at night before bed. I never saw her use makeup other than concealer under her eyes, a little blush, and mascara on special occasions. Now 67, she has scarcely any wrinkles. And when the frown lines between her eyes showed up, she shrugged them off, as she did when her hair went completely silver.
Beauty products are lost on me. I don’t get excited over lip-gloss or eye cream and I certainly never thought I’d consider having Botox. I equated cosmetic procedures with a plastic woman with a frozen face. I assumed I’d grow old gracefully. I didn’t want to be a woman who felt she needed to chase the fountain of youth.
But by the time I was 35, the wrinkles in my forehead had become deep grooves that never went away and they really bothered me. I had two young children, stressful work deadlines, and a long bout with chronic back pain. I was constantly exhausted and overwhelmed, and the wrinkles seemed to emphasize the way I felt.
I became obsessive: scanning photos of myself for the wrinkles. I envied my friends’ smooth foreheads. I was always considered young-looking for my age, but I stopped getting carded and everyone seemed to call me “ma’am.” I had been secure about my appearance throughout adulthood, but my confidence started to waver.
I began to consider Botox. A local dermatologist came highly recommended and I carried her card in my wallet for a year. My breaking point arrived last summer, when I was 37. My 4-year-old son traced his finger along one of the ridges on my forehead. “What are these Mommy?” he asked. “The lines that don’t go away?”
I called the dermatologist’s office the next morning and made an appointment.
The nurse was shocked at how deep my lines were for my age and the doctor, a bright, easy-going woman in her 30s, agreed. She pointed out that wrinkles have a genetic component that influence onset, degree, and depth. While I picked up my mom’s habits, my fair Irish skin came from my dad. Looking at photos later, I noticed that my grandmother had forehead lines like mine in her late 30s.
“I can considerably reduce the lines,” the doctor said. And she had time to do it that day. The cost: $300.
The nurse took a “before” photograph of me. Moments later, the doctor began several tiny injections across my forehead. When it was done, she told me that the goal wasn’t for the lines to completely disappear, but for them to diminish. I’d still be able to show facial expressions.
“You want people to comment on how good you look but not really know why,” she said.
By the end of the week the wrinkles were significantly diminished. Faint lines were still apparent when I looked closely for them, but the deep grooves on my face were gone. I couldn’t stop looking in the mirror in disbelief.
My husband hadn’t felt Botox was necessary. “You were beautiful before, the lines were part of you,” he said. A few days later, however, he commented on how happy I looked. Silly and simple as it sounds, my mood was lighter because I looked better.
My mother marveled at the difference. But I kept the Botox a secret from everyone else. As pleased as I was with the results, I was embarrassed. The fact that I’d gotten the injections felt vain and self-indulgent.
While Botox has become a giant industry, its cosmetic use remains controversial. But that hasn’t slowed the growth of the product, especially in the US. The Botox market, which hit $2 billion in 2013, is slated to grow to $3.15 billion in 2018, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Still, people tend to have strong opinions about whether to use the product. Actress Jennifer Aniston has been particularly vocal about her refusal to use it and other cosmetic injectables in her face.
“There is . . . this pressure in Hollywood to be ageless,” Aniston said in an interview with Bobbi Brown on Yahoo! Beauty last August. “I think what I have been witness to, is seeing women trying to stay ageless with what they are doing to themselves. I am grateful to learn from their mistakes, because I am not injecting [expletive] into my face.”
Aniston credits her glowing skin to drinking copious amounts of water and getting lots of sleep. On the other hand, talk show host Kelly Ripa calls Botox her favorite product.
“I’m not advocating for it one way or the other,” Ripa told Andy Cohen in July on Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live.” “I’m just saying Botox changed my life.”
Botox works to relax contraction of the muscle by blocking nerve impulses resulting in muscles that can no longer contract, causing wrinkles to relax and soften. A typical Botox treatment lasts four to six months; I plan to return to the dermatologist for another procedure.
I’m far less embarrassed now (clearly, since I’m writing this essay). Botox is simple and effective. With all the stresses in life that we can’t control, I find it refreshing that a few minutes in the doctor’s office can wash away the wrinkles that were bringing me down.
The only feelings of ambivalence I do have revolve around how my decision might someday impact my daughter. Now 2 years old, she is a physical reflection of me with her fair skin and blue eyes. She watches me get ready in the morning. After I’m done, she dabs my makeup brush on her cheeks and tilts her head at her reflection in the mirror.
As she grows up, I’d hate to see her become too immersed in her appearance or feel that she needs to have wrinkles washed away. I want none of that to matter to her. But if it does, decades from now, she’ll know there’s no shame in getting a little help from the dermatologist.
Glamorous: Renee sported blonde bangs and a long wavy hairstyle in a shot taken in 1987, when she was around 18-years-old
Yearbook photos show transformation from teenage cheerleader to glamorous high school senior
Her drastically altered appearance on Monday night startled movie fans more familiar with her star turns in Bridget Jones's Diary and Jerry Maguire.
And early photographs of Renee Zellweger show a different side, yet again, to the 45-year-old actress.
As a cheerleader at Katy Junior High School in Texas in 1983, photographs show the teenager with bangs and pigtails smiling broadly while posing for the camera.
Is that you Renee? Zellweger as a cheerleader at Katy Junior High School in Texas in eighth grade, aged around 13-years-old
Another shot taken around the same time, features the star with her blonde hair loose around her shoulders while performing in a cheerleader pyramid, while another snap shows the sporty youngster posing with the basketball team.
Of course, Renee grew up to be one of Hollywood's most stunning stars, and as an 18-year-old, displayed the glamorous side which she would show off to maximum effect on some of the world's biggest red carpets.
A 1987 picture taken in Renee's senior year at Katy High School, shows the actress in full 1980s mode, complete with big wavy hair, glossy lips and heavy eye make-up.
Agile: The future star, (top right), looked more than happy with her cheerleading moves
Change: Renée showed a markedly different-looking face at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards on Monday
Another shot taken from the same era features the future Hollywood actress in a white sweater with a permed hairstyle and frosted pink lips teamed with hoop earrings.
At 18-years-old, the popular Texan was voted 'dream date' by her classmates, nine years before she achieved worldwide fame as single mother Dorothy Boyd opposite Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire.
However, even as a teenager, there is no mistaking the star who would go on to scoop a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Cold Mountain back in 2003.
However, on Monday, the actress looked almost unrecognisable with her line-free forehead, altered brow and suspiciously puffy face, although she has never admitted to getting surgery.
In fact, the speculation about her new look was so intense that the actress even gave a brief statement about it on Tuesday, describing the conversation about her face as 'silly' and putting her new look down to good health and happiness.
'It seems the folks who come digging around for some nefarious truth, which doesn't exist won't get off my porch until I answer the door,' the 45-year-old Oscar winner told People.
'I'm glad folks think I look different! I'm living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows.'
The Case 39 actress - who's been romancing Doyle Bramhall II since 2012 - said she's spent the past few years 'making a home,' 'loving someone,' and 'growing into myself.'
'My friends say that I look peaceful. I am healthy,' Zellweger insisted.
Before she was famous: The actress fully embraced the 1980s style in another snapshot taken in 1987
School efforts: Renee was also on the basketball team, seen here on the front row
'For a long time I wasn't doing such a good job with that. I took on a schedule that is not realistically sustainable and didn't allow for taking care of myself.
'Rather than stopping to recalibrate, I kept running until I was depleted and made bad choices about how to conceal the exhaustion. I was aware of the chaos and finally chose different things.'
The star certainly looked in excellent spirits at the event, wearing her hair in a wispy side-parting with natural make-up, and a slick of pink lipgloss.
Upper-eye lift? The 45-year-old Oscar winner shocked fans on Monday with her startlingly different face at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards (pictured Monday and 2001)
The experts weigh in: Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeon Dr Alex Karidis of London’s Karidis Clinic told MailOnline Renee may have had an upper eye lift and Botox - although she attributes her new look to a healthier lifestyle
The Case 39 actress said: 'I'm glad folks think I look different! I'm living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows' (pictured Monday and 2013)
There's no denying it: The star's appearance has changed dramatically over the years
Her choice of dress was a winning look, a black knee-length frock with sweetheart neckline and a sheer embroidered back and sleeves.
She teamed it with gold pointed pumps by Christian Louboutin and carried a matching clutch.
She arrived holding hands with her beau Doyle and the pair kept a close distance as they amorously strolled down the red carpet together.
The couple were university students together in Texas during the nineties and rekindled their relationship years later.
Affectionate: Renee was joined by musician boyfriend Doyle Bramhall II at the event at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles
Fresh-faced: The actress went for a nude palette of makeup with barely any lipstick, no earrings and a heavy lash
Throwback shot: Her natural hair and pierced-less ears are the same, but her look is decidedly different than how she appeared at the 2001 Oscars, seen here
However, the actress's statement has not completely quashed speculation that she may have turned to cosmetic beauty treatments to achieve her new look.
Dr Alex Karidis of London’s Karaidis Clinic , who has never treated Renee, told MailOnline he believes Renee may have had an upper eye lift.
He reasons: ‘the distance between the brow and her eye is much smaller than before.’
According to Dr Karidis, the 45-year-old's brows don't appear to be higher than before, suggesting she hasn't had a brow lift.
Karidis says her flawless forehead could be down to the use of Botox.
He said: 'Her forehead is smooth - you would expect more expressive wrinkles when she smiles which indicates a possible small dose of Botox between the eyelid and eye.'
The beloved Bridget Jones! The star won a legion of fans with her memorable role in the 2001 flick Bridget Jones's Diary, and the 2004 sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Zellweger's most recent acting role was as paraplegic singer Jane Wyatt in the 2010 dramedy My Own Love Song alongside Forest Whitaker.
Renée will next play the mother of a 17-year-old murder suspect in the 2015 indie courtroom thriller The Whole Truth with Keanu Reeves and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
MailOnline has contacted a spokesperson for Renee Zellweger for comment.
She still looked like herself four years ago: Zellweger's most recent acting role was as paraplegic singer Jane Wyatt in the 2010 dramedy My Own Love Song alongside Forest Whitaker (R)
THE EIGHT AREAS OF CHANGE ON RENEE ZELLWEGER'S FACE
Renee’s line-free, somewhat superhuman looking brow is probably down to Botox, says cosmetic doctor Dr Aamer Khan. He says it’s been poorly administered, which has led to a telltale shine across her taut forehead.
‘Taking her age into consideration, Renee’s brow is reasonably smooth,’ says Dr Khan. ‘She is smiling, but her brow doesn’t have much expression.
‘Botox affects the sweat glands, which reduces the amount of water being made and increases the amount of oil being produced — this makes the face look more shiny.’
He believes her lack of wrinkles could also be attributed to laser resurfacing work, at €800-€1,000 a session, in which beams of light remove layers of skin making it less lined.
‘Renee’s pores look tighter than they did in the first picture,’ he says. ‘This treatment uses a laser to resurface the skin and increase collagen production which plumps up the skin to make it look younger.
‘Clients normally need three sessions, each a month apart, and then one session a year after that to maintain the result.’
Renee’s skin is now tanned and several shades darker than the trademark peaches-and-cream complexion that made her so well-suited to play Bridget Jones.
‘Renee used to have pale skin and ruddy cheeks,’ says Oonagh Connor, a celebrity make-up artist whose clients include Lindsay Lohan and Esther Rantzen.
‘This made her distinctive and reminiscent of 1920s film stars. Now she has a much more standard, golden, Californian look. ‘It’s a shock because we’re not used to seeing this on Renee. She could benefit from some translucent powder to take away the shine.’
Fillers — in which hyaluronic acid is injected into the skin to plump up the skin tissue — may be responsible for Renee’s smooth cheeks. They cost up to €750 a treatment and need repeating every six to 12 months.
‘The lines that run from her nose to her mouth are less apparent than before,’ says Khan.
‘Her cheeks are very well volumised and her face shape has changed. Filler can be very effective and I wouldn’t say Renee’s looks bad, but done incorrectly, with excessive amounts, fillers can lead to a “pillow face” — where the cheeks look unnaturally full like a pillow. They can cause lumpiness, excessive bruising and even a risk of blindness if they are injected near to the eye.’
As WE get older, the lips lose their volume. Not so with Zellweger. ‘I think Renee has also increased the volume of her upper lip with filler,’ says Dr Khan. ‘It is certainly much thicker now than it used to be.’
Renee’s feline eyes appear to have been altered by surgery. A pair of standard, slightly-startled, almond-shaped peepers are in their place.
Dr Khan says Renee has probably had three separate operations on her eyes — an upper and lower eyelid lift and a lateral brow lift (which raises the outer ends of the eyebrows), costing thousands of euro for each. ‘Though Renee’s brows are in the same position in the second picture, they are flatter and the ends appear to have been lifted,’ he says. ‘Before, her eyes were puffy and had lines. Correction surgery involves cleaning away the fat that causes bulges and taking away excess skin. It has changed the shape of her eyes.’
Bizarrely, they appear to have been bleached into oblivion.
‘Before, she had strongly arched eyebrows which lifted and defined her face,’ says Connor. ‘They may have been tinted. Now they look lighter and don’t appear to have been threaded or plucked, which is almost unheard of these days, especially on a Hollywood star.’
Along with her nose, Renee’s hair is perhaps the only part of her appearance that hasn’t been altered beyond recognition. It seems to have simply been dyed darker. ‘Renee used to have ash blonde highlights but they are now more honey coloured, which compliments her tanned skin,’ says Connor.
Renee’s once distinctive angular jaw seems to have disappeared.
‘This could well be indicative of a lower face and neck lift,’ says Dr Khan — who estimates the cost of these procedures at around €10,500. ‘The lower face lift involves taking away excess fat and skin and tightening the face up, making the jaw line look a lot tighter.’
A neck lift is performed by making small incisions behind the ears and removing excess fat in the neck through them. ‘Her neck muscles are more prominent and the skin looks really tight over them,’ says Dr Khan.
‘There is less softness in her face and she looks older in some respects.’
Rumours abound that her altered face shape could also be down to a chin implant. ‘Her chin is more prominent, so it is possible, but it could be an illusion resulting from other work she has had done,’ says Dr Khan.
Renee’s revamps: from left to right, at The Oscars in LA in 2008; at the CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute awards in 2010; in New York in September this year; at the Elle awards in LA this week (Picture: Rex/Corbis)
It was the biggest clickbait story of the week. Yes, Renee Zellweger’s face. Who knew? The 45-year-old actress hasn’t made a film for four years and before Tuesday was not so much off the Hollywood radar as positively missing in action. Then she turned up at a benefit gala in LA looking a bit, well, different, and as The Daily Beast website reported, “worldwide panic” ensued. According to The Beast website, Renee’s visage attracted “more medical scrutiny than Ebola”.
The story, and accompanying pictures, past and present, soared to the top of most-read and shared charts for newspapers and websites of all persuasions, as well as becoming the top-trending subject on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. Within seven hours the story had spawned more than 100,000 tweets and 70,000 internet stories.
“What has Renee done to her face?” demanded a delighted Daily Mail in a story that has been shared more than 60,000 times and generated millions of hits. The Guardian’s main article on Zellweger remained the most-viewed piece on its website for more than 24 hours and one opinion piece attracted more than 1,500 comments.
Is a facelift a feminist issue or simply a fascinating insight into our modern media age? Experts queued up to give their opinion. Zellweger immediately denied having work, saying it was the result of living a “happier and healthier” lifestyle.
The jury may be out on whether a surgeon also had a hand in the changes but the verdict is in on Zellweger herself — she’s trending.
The photos that emerged of Zellweger at the Elle Women in Hollywood benefit had everything. She looked glamorous enough for a front page but different enough to prompt a news story. Inextricably linked with her role as Bridget Jones, her weight and looks have long been subjected to scrutiny while she has maintained the affection of millions of women who see her as “one of them” despite her wealth and fame.
Lucie Cave, editor-in-chief of Heat magazine, says: “Renee’s face has been a subject of fascination for our readers many times over the years but it’s usually been more about how much weight she’s lost since her days as Bridget Jones. But occasionally a set of pictures lands on our picture desk that we keep coming back to all day because we just can’t believe it’s the same person. Everything about Renee’s new face looks different — it’s like she’s got a brand new head!
“She’s come out saying she’s just got older and started eating more healthily, which may have something to do with it, but it’s like when Jennifer Grey from Dirty Dancing emerged looking like she’d swallowed Barbie. It’s like she’s erased the Renee we loved completely.”
Heat was going to press on Wednesday with huge coverage of the story.
Some picture editors, however, feel the camera may not be telling the whole truth. One at a rival magazine to Heat, who did not wish to be named for fear her views would not chime with those of her editor’s, said: “If you look at those pictures there really isn’t a huge amount of difference with how she looked, say, a year ago. There’s always been speculation that she’s had work done; she’s had puffed up ‘pillow face’ cheeks for a while.
“Everyone’s gone mad because she hasn’t been seen and her hair and make-up have made her look different.”
IS IT A FEMINIST ISSUE?
Some focused on whether the fascination with Zellweger is a reflection of Hollywood sexism and ageism.
Columnist Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy, writing in The Guardian, called it “face shaming” and said Zellweger’s looks were being “commodified” by a “Greek chorus of opinion”. That commodification was laid bare in the Daily Mirror, which printed a picture of the actress with big red arrows pointing to parts of her that experts believed had been worked on under the headline: “Where did Renee Zellweger’s face go?”
Emily Shire of The Daily Beast believes it’s also about the collision between who we think Zellweger is and the character she is best-known for. She says: “To a certain degree, there is an irrational sense of betrayal. We loved her as Bridget Jones for owning her weight, finding love and never settling for less than she deserved. Her weight loss after the movies implied you couldn’t actually look like Bridget Jones and achieve all that she did. Now that she has once again altered her appearance in dramatic fashion — evidently through plastic surgery — the obsessive scrutiny has returned.
“Ironically, lost in the over-analysis of Zellweger’s new look is the most important message of Bridget Jones’s Diary: we like you, Renee, just as you are.”
However Dr John Jewell, director of studies at Cardiff University’s school of journalism, is sceptical about the timing of the pictures and the public’s response to them. He says: “It is about our celebrity culture and obsession with how people look but I think to some extent stories like this provide a welcome relief to austerity, Islamic State and Ebola.
“There is a public appetite for pictures like this — they generate hits and that’s what newspapers and websites want. But I think young people in particular are very aware about stories like this — they know it’s clickbait and that it’s probably PR-driven.”
Dr Jewell points out that it may be no coincidence that Zellweger’s face has re-emerged just as there is renewed speculation over the possibility of a third Bridget Jones movie.
In Hollywood, where media presence is everything, the actress is once again hot property. Perhaps it’s all just part of her cunning plan.
Renee and the media may not be the only winners out of Facegate. Despite the “WTF?!” comments on her possibly worked-on features, cosmetic surgery experts say the publicity will benefit them too.
The Harley Medical Group of clinics across the UK has already seen a spike in enquiries to its call centre since Tuesday.Bernadette Harte, non-surgical training manager at the group, says: “I turned up at the Brighton clinic yesterday and everyone was talking about it.
“Often patients turn up with pictures of people they want to look like. Angelina Jolie is one of the most popular. But Renee is about the same age as a lot of our patients. They’re in their forties, maybe their kids have grown up or they are single again, they have a bit of money and they want to look good. I think the fact that people can’t say for sure whether she has had work done or not shows how good surgery can be now. “That’s what our patients want: for people to see they look different but to not be sure why that is.” (Harte suspects a few “fillers” may account for the changes to Zellweger’s face.)
WILL IT REBRAND OR REBOUND?
Is all publicity good publicity? Her profile (in more ways than one) may be hitting the headlines at the moment but will Zellweger benefit, even from the unkind judgments about her?
London-based brand psychologist Jonathan Gabay believes she is playing a high-stakes strategy.
“If she really hasn’t had work done then she will be OK because I think there is a lot of sympathy, particularly among women, for her and the whole thing about ageing and how you’re perceived,” he says.
“The problem is that if she has had work done, it’s almost inevitable that the facts will emerge and people will feel cheated about the fact she has denied it.
“But then I think she can still win out because she can say, ‘This is what I had to do to get on, to stay in Hollywood and get the roles.’ She can even play on the whole Bridget Jones thing and say this is what I succumbed to, I have the same insecurities as you.”
Whatever the truth, as the internet hits accumulate, the tweets continue, pub conversations rage and those photos are shared, Zellweger has proved that she is right back on Hollywood’s radar. V, V good, as Bridget Jones would say.
Photographs of actress Renée Zellweger at the Elle magazine's Women in Hollywood awards this week, showing her dramatically different appearance, have sparked the Internet's interest.
The 45-year-old actress looked almost unrecognizable to fans who know her best from her earlier movies such as "Jerry Maguire" and "Bridget Jones's Diary." But two cosmetic surgeons told Live Science that Zellweger's transformation could be the result of relatively minor procedures, as well as weight loss and normal aging. (Zellweger herself has attributed her changed appearance to lifestyle changes and natural aging.)
Zellweger looks so different because her most distinctive features are the ones that changed dramatically, said both Dr. Michael C. Edwards, the president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and Dr. Stuart Linder, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, California. [7 Plastic Surgery Myths Revealed]
It doesn't seem likely that the actress had an invasive surgery, such as a mini-facelift, done, Edwards said. Still, "it's a pretty remarkable change," he said.
Eyes make the face
The biggest difference in Zellweger's appearance is around her eye area, Edwards said. The actress always had very distinctive, heavy eyelids.
"That's what made her Renee Zellweger," Edwards told Live Science.
But in the recent pictures, her eyelids look like they contain less fat, and the brows look a little bit lower, Linder said. "The face looks fuller in the lower third, and the eyes have totally changed what they originally looked like," he said.
"I feel that her brows are positioned differently," Linder told Live Science. Compared with images from just a year ago, "The lateral brow is lower than it was in previous photos."
A procedure that removes excess skin from the upper eyelids can sometimes make the brows fall, Linder said. "Some would say that may be a telltale sign of an upper-lid operation called a blepharoplasty," he said.
It's also conceivable that Zellweger had fat pads under her lower lids removed, in a procedure called an inner-eyelid blepharoplasty, Linder said.
Face shape changes
Another area that looks different is her jawline, Linder said. It's possible the actress had her jawline plumped with a cosmetic filler such as Juvéderm, he said. Another way to round out the jawline is to have fat grafted onto the folds around the jaw, a more permanent procedure, he said. [Smile Secrets: 5 Things Your Grin Reveals About You]
However, some of the changes in Zellweger's face could be the result of natural aging and weight loss, Edwards said.
Women's faces naturally tend to elongate as they age, and the actress's face does appear to be slimmer and longer, Edwards said. Since Zellweger has clearly has slimmed down, weight loss could have accentuated that facial elongation, he added.
Doctors sometimes put fillers or implants into the cheekbones, and although Zellweger's cheeks do appear more prominent now, they are not obviously altered, Edwards said.
"I don't think it's as though she had a bunch of implants under her cheeks. That doesn't appear to be what happened," Edwards said.
But Linder said he thought the changes around her cheekbones could be the result of a cosmetic procedure.
"Her cheeks are pretty prominent, and often cheeks that are prominent as we age do well with volume enhancement such as Juvéderm " Linder said.
The actress's forehead also looks fairly soft, which could be the result of a minor injection of the wrinkle-smoothing agent Botox, or conceivably, the result of a healthier, more relaxing lifestyle, Edwards said.
If she has had a Botox injection, the effects are "quite subtle," he said.
Minor procedures, major changes
If anything, Zellweger's new appearance is probably the result of relatively minor cosmetic procedures, the doctors said. But because it is her most striking features that seem to have have changed most dramatically, her face seems completely transformed, they said.
Most people who have cosmetic surgery are seeking a more youthful appearance, but still want to look like themselves. So a good rule of thumb is to undergo temporary procedures that wear off, before committing to something permanent, Linder said. (A 2013 study in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery has shown that, while cosmetic surgery can make people look younger, it doesn't make them more beautiful.)
"Make sure to do something like Botox and Juvéderm first. Make sure you're happy with that, before you do anything permanent like fat grafting," Linder said.
It's also important to see a board-certified surgeon whose main priority is safety, Edwards said.
When I see people who look totally different, I have empathy
The Hills actress (right) felt so pressured by the entertainment industry's aesthetic ideals, she underwent 10 cosmetic procedures
By her own admission, she felt so pressured to fit in with the entertainment industry’s often warped perception of aesthetic perfection she underwent no less than 10 cosmetic procedures.
The results of the plastic surgery drastically altered her appearance, and Montag quickly notched up negative column inches in tabloids the world over after she revealed her new look for the first time.
If anyone has sympathy with the coverage of Renee Zellweger’s appearance this week, it’s her.
“I don't know if Renee Zellweger just aged like she said... For me, when I see people who look totally different, I have an empathy, because I feel like I know why at least I did it, and it kind of brings it back to that time in my life,” the 28-year-old Hills actress toldExtra on Thursday.
“I hope it's the right decision for them and they feel good about it. That's the most important thing,” she continued.
The Hills star in 2006, before she underwent 10 cosmetic procedures“But at the same time, my heart goes out to them... It's a hard, life-changing decision. When anyone does that then they're obviously unhappy with something. I hope they found their happiness.”
“You have family that makes it hard too sometimes - not only are you getting the criticism from the world,” she admitted.
She concluded by saying that, despite not being as recognisable a figure as Zellweger, she felt it was “harder than ever” to be in the public eye.
“You have to be tougher, you have to have a really thick skin. I think that's one of the reasons I went into hiding and just kind of bowed out of it, because it gets too intense.”
Zellweger’s appearance became a media talking point after she attended the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards in Beverly Hills on Monday.
However, the actress deftly handled negative comments by telling reporters she was “pleased” they’d noticed she looks “different”.
“I'm living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows,” she told People.
“My friends say that I look peaceful. I am healthy.
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday“For a long time I wasn't doing such a good job with that. I took on a schedule that is not realistically sustainable and didn't allow for taking care of myself. Rather than stopping to recalibrate, I kept running until I was depleted and made bad choices about how to conceal the exhaustion.”
“I did work that allows for being still, making a home, loving someone, learning new things, growing as a creative person and finally growing into myself,” she continued, noting that she chose to address the speculation because “it seems the folks who come digging around for some nefarious truth which doesn't exist won't get off my porch until I answer the door.”
Liposuction, breast augmentation, eyelid surgery, tummy tuck, and nose surgery — these are a few of America’s favorite cosmetic procedures. The results of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery’s 17th annual survey found as much, as well as a 12 percent increase in overall surgical and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures since 2008.
Society’s insane ideal for women and men to look forever in their 20s — mostly women — is largely why people go for a little nip and tuck. A separate surveyfound one in 20 of 2,000 respondents received plastic surgery or injections in an effort to look younger, while 42 percent of women (only 18 percent of men) would consider it. Women admitted they’re afraid looking their age could prevent work success.
The saddest part is that youth really is this intensely valued. So much so that it’s giving way to a whole new, frankly weird era of plastic surgery. Get familiar with a few of them below.
Teach your constantly falling down bra straps a lessen by getting rid of it all together. For perkier breasts, British doctors have taken to adding hardened silicone cups underneath a woman’s breast tissue. Then, the cups are lifted with silk straps and screwed into the rib cage. For real.
Donning a full moustache in the Middle East says dignified, mature, and wise. It says masculine. So naturally, Middle Eastern men struggling with wispy facial hair schedule to have one surgically added for a cool $7,000. Surgeons will remove hair from parts of the body not struggling with volume, and implant it on a man’s upper lip.
Selahattin Tulunay, a Turkish plastic surgeon, told CNN that he performs up to 60 transplants a month on patients who travel to Turkey from the Middle East. If men can avoid shaving in the 15 days following the procedure, they could see full results in as few as six months.
The effects of obesity have apparently trickled down to one’s toes. There are people who are ashamed about the size of their toes, and they elect to have them shaved down to a skinnier size. And because it’s an elective surgery, insurance doesn’t cover any of the cost. The price range for a procedure like this ranges from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
This is not unlike the Cinderalla Surger. The New York Times reported you can get your toes shortened or lengthened, your bunions removed, and fat injected into the bottoms of your feet for permanent comfort.
Meet liposuction for your legs. The flood of emails about the new boots available for the cold-weather seasons has gotten to women who believe they have excess “calf fat” that they’re having it surgically removed. It’s otherwise known as “boot bulge” and it’s so women with larger calves can try any and every boot they want.
Once the calf fat is removed, surgeons can sculpt the lower leg to a woman’s desired size. Well, assuming they’re not an avid bike rider or runners. These women tend to have a lot of muscle in their calf, and at least a little fat is required for the procedure.
Guys, get ready to cringe: George Clooney told Esquire in 2008 that he got his balls ironed in order for them to look less wrinkled — and you can, too. The non-surgical procedure is actually referred to as “tightening the tackle,” and it’s a one-stop shop to remove hair, eliminate wrinkles, and improve the scrotum’s overall appearance.
Just don’t for one minute think this rivals a female’s routine Brazilian.
Flesh tunnels are the holes that result from gauged ear piercings. Think about the holed earrings you would notice in Hot Topic’s display case. An ear that’s been stretched 1.5 cm can stretch back without surgery, while anything larger than that requires repair.
Enter: earlobe surgery. It’s on the rise in the UK for patients who no longer want to sport their “baggy lobes.” It’s a 30-minute procedure that stitches lobes back together internally.
It physically pains us to report that the rise in facial surgeries, such as a nose job, is a direct result of selfies. This is especially worrisome when you consider the number of apps that can filter and perfect a photo sans a knife.
Going back to the AAFPRS survey, one in three facial plastic surgeons said they saw an increase in requests for procedures due to patients being more self-aware of their looks on social media sites, such as Instagram and Snapchat. Thirteen percent of patients actually cited photo sharing as a reason for their consultation.
Nitrogen Gas Weight Loss
Weight loss surgeries are nothing new. We bet, however, you didn’t know there’s a diet procedure out there that involves swallowing a pill filled with nitrogen gas that a doctor uses a catheter to inflate like a balloon in your stomach—because there totally is.
The Obalan Balloon, which has yet to be approved in the United States, sits at the top of a person’s stomach for 12 weeks in an effort to train the brain to better understand healthier eating habits. A patient could lose up to 20 pounds — which the pill will then have to be endoscopically removed.
1. On Monday night in Beverly Hills, Elle magazine hosted its "Women in Hollywood Awards", a standard evening of showbiz self-congratulation animated by a gentle pro-feminist spirit. On Tuesday morning, all anyone was talking or writing about from the event was Renee Zellweger's face.
2. She looked . . . different. Maybe not bad. Just not at all like herself.
3. UK Mirror: "What happened to Bridget Jones?" CNN.com: "Is that you, Renee Zellweger?" FoxNews.com: "Fans: Renee Zellweger nearly unrecognizable after mysterious facial changes." Random (but representative) person on Twitter: "Umm is this Renee Zellweger or are we at Madame Tussaud's wax museum?"
4. The shock that greeted a 45-year-old Oscar winner's makeover indicated that our society has grave concerns about chasing a youthful look - likely through cosmetic surgery. The data suggests otherwise. Americans had more than 11 million cosmetic procedures in 2013, according to stats from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery - 12 per cent more than in 2012, and six times more than in 1997. Let's just hazard a guess that the number of per capita "procedures" is somewhat higher in Los Angeles than in the US as a whole. Closer to home, Australians are currently spending about $US850 million a year on plastic surgery procedures.
5. So maybe we don't have a problem with anyone having cosmetic surgery. Maybe we just have a problem with people who get caught having it.
6. Or maybe it's just so commonplace that even those of us who disapprove can't quite tell anymore when we're seeing a face that's been fixed versus one that's untouched.
7. Certainly, no one in the entertainment industry seems particularly eager to talk about it, at least as it pertains to themselves. There's a lot of hairsplitting: It's not for me, but . . . "Never say never," Naomi Watts told an Australian magazine vaguely, "and I certainly don't judge anyone who does it." "I don't think anything's wrong with plastic surgery," Courteney Cox hedged in an interview with In Style, but, "I don't understand when people change drastically."
8. But Frances McDormand is talking about it. "Something happened culturally," the proudly wrinkled actress, 57, recently raged to the New York Times. "No one is supposed to age past 45 — sartorially, cosmetically, attitudinally. Everybody dresses like a teenager. Everybody dyes their hair. Everybody is concerned about a smooth face. . . [My husband] literally has to stop me physically from saying something to people — to friends who've had work. I'm so full of fear and rage about what they've done."
9. When she was 35, Judith Light was cast as the spunky single mom on Who's the Boss, love interest to Tony Danza, who was two years younger. We saw her most recently on Dallas, at 63, and the actor playing her son was only three years younger. This happens so often in Hollywood we can't even enumerate it.
10. Face it: They're damned if they do, and they're damned if they don't. A high-profile woman who looks her age is said to have let herself go; one who has obviously erased some years is called vain and desperate.
11. Unless, of course, they've had really really good work done - such expensive and elaborate work that we can't see the seams. Then we often judge that they are indeed "aging gracefully." Whatever that means.
12. Sample captions on the photos of the event published by the Mail Online: "Renee embraced Oscar winner Shirley MacLaine, who looked incredible for 80." "Speaking of evergreen: American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy embraced his muse, Jessica Lange, who isn't looking so bad herself at 65." For those of you keeping score.
13. Kim Novak was widely mocked when she showed up at the Oscars with a preternaturally puffy face. Twenty years ago we might have made the same cracks about an aging star, but it's unlikely she would have heard us. Instead, the 81-year-old felt the need to explain herself on Facebook: "I'm not going to deny that I had fat injections in my face. They seemed far less invasive than a face-lift." It sounded like an apology.
14. Zellweger was 27 when she became a star in Jerry Maguire, 18 years ago. She had a startlingly unconventional beauty - those squinchy eyes, those chipmunk cheeks, that kewpie mouth, bursting with youth. Did she become a star despite that face, or because of it?
15. She was 35 when she won an Oscar for Cold Mountain. That was 10 years ago. Her last major theatrical release was Case 39, a horror flick that bombed at the box office. That was five years ago.
16. Look, obviously she did something. Obviously, it was a mistake. Maybe this wasn't the look she was going for either, though.
17. Jennifer Grey, the long-ago star of Dirty Dancing, once said that she regretted her nose job: "I went into the operating room a celebrity and came out anonymous." You probably saw a lot of people making that comparison on Twitter Tuesday.
18. At the 2009 Oscars, we saw Melissa Leo up close and were transfixed by the delicate spiderweb of fine lines around her eyes and mouth. Nothing unusual on a woman in her late 40s. It's just that literally no one else on the red carpet had them.
19. A couple years later, it was the deep forehead creases on Sean Penn that preoccupied us. Every other man in the room had a brow like a freshly ironed sheet.
20. Proposed: As long as there are going to be 11 million "procedures" a year, maybe the industry should introduce a class of independent consultants. Professionals who can tell you what to do to your face - and what not to do - so that you're not getting this advice from the doctors with a profit motive to do more.
21. By the end of the day, Twitter sentiment seemed to have swung from "what did Renee Zellweger do to her face?" to "leave Renee Zellweger alone."
22. Sadly, that's probably not the look she was going for either.
This past week, I sat on the sidelines and watched with morbid fascination the horrible face-shaming our society directed at Renee Zellweger. Remember, this is the same Renee Zellweger who delivers so much joy to this world in the form of her lovely performances in Bridget Jones's Diary, Jerry Maguire, and Empire Records to name just a few. This poor woman is withstanding such personal criticisms for the face she portrays both to the world and to the mirror each morning. Society is not attacking dear Renee for her stance on issues such as child hunger, poverty or violence and war, issues that affect millions of people around the world each day. As a society, we are viscously attacking Renee for allegedly changing her face. I remind you, this is the same society that also saw fit to compare Kim Kardashian to a killer whale when she was nine months pregnant. So I ask you, why have so many of us fallen down the rabbit hole of attacking celebrities on the basis of their looks alone?
This is where I have to thank Renee Zellweger's face for my epiphany. There I sat, critically analyzing the before and after pictures of her face, trying to discern exactly what changed and it hit me like a lightning bolt... my epiphany. I was trying to find flaws in this beautiful woman because I simply could not relate to her image of perfection. Celebrities such as Renee and Kim are oftentimes portrayed as one-dimensional Barbie doll perfect; they have a perfect life, perfect career, perfect bank account and perfect, gorgeous looks. And I simply can't relate to perfection. I'm hiding too many flaws and insecurities on the inside, deep in my heart, to relate in any way with her perfection. Finding the flaws she secretly hides from the world is just a little thrilling and I literally can't look away.
As a society, we point out the flaws in others, especially celebrities such as Renee, because we are trying to find and connect with the humanity hidden behind carefully crafted masks of perfection. We hide behind our own masks of perfection when we carefully edit our Facebook posts and Instagram feeds to portray only the beautiful, the successful, the perfect fairy tale aspects of our lives. We don't want anyone to guess that we secretly hate how we look or that we are slowly going financially and morally bankrupt keeping up with the Joneses. We keep hidden the fact that we feel real human emotions such as pain, suffering and insecurity -- but we do. In fact, these feelings of pain, suffering and insecurity are universal human emotions that connect us all behind our carefully crafted masks of perfection. Behind these episodes of face-shaming we are simply trying to connect with celebrity flaws because we just can't identify with their masks of perfection. We criticize celebrity imperfection because that is what we see in ourselves and oftentimes life behind our very own mask of perfection can get very, very lonely indeed.
So the next time you find yourself picking apart the flaws of the it-girl celebrity to falter in front of the world, realize it is just the lonely, imperfect part of you seeking a human connection with another. Sometimes we are all just looking for the sense of universal human connection that unites us all -- even if we have to find it in Renee's changed face or Kim's pregnancy weight gain.
PS: I'm practicing unbridled vulnerability so I will share what is #behindmymask of perfection... I hide my shame for not losing all of my pregnancy weight one year after the birth of my son. Share what you are hiding behind your mask of perfection in the comments below or on Twitter with the hashtag #behindmymask.