The face that launched a thousand rumours

How many of us have been in the position where we’ve felt like we had to make excuses for our appearance? In my opinion, it takes a pretty confident individual to leave the house feeling far from their best and just not care what anyone might think about how they look. There have been countless times when I’ve felt mortified about running into someone I know and muttered some explanation for my lackluster appearance; perhaps you can relate.

Now imagine that scenario again, but this time under the intense, unforgiving and gleeful scrutiny of the media, whose idea of a great headline is your ‘Bad Face Day’; then imagine this circus turning into a character assassination, the condemnation of your lifestyle choices and the underlying moral implications of your credibility as a human being and role model.

Thankfully, this isn’t something most of us have to deal with on a daily basis – but we are all too familiar with it. We may be so used to it that we are desensitized to it and, even worse, we may even participate in it. It is so easy to critique the appearance of someone in the public eye that we can entirely overlook the fact that we are involved in shaping and perpetuating the media-endorsed standards we impose not only on celebrities, but on one another, on ourselves. How has it become OK to tear someone apart based on their appearance, and what does this say about us?

Ashley Judd wants to know the same thing. I remember hearing something recently about the actress’ “puffy face” – I noticed, in passing, enough headlines to register some outrage over an apparently offensive change in her appearance, but I didn’t give it a second thought at the time. As it turns out, Ms Judd’s face created enough of a phenomenon to prompt an unexpected response: a supremely measured, articulate, and quite frankly, kick-ass piece of feminist writing. Being put in a position where she felt obliged to justify her weight gain (a sedentary lifestyle and steroid medication will do that to a girl, I can tell ya), she goes on to counter-analyze the culture that so viscerally analyzed her appearance.

Whereas I’d previously felt quite indifferently towards Ashley Judd the actress, I’m now pretty much in awe of Ashley Judd the feminist icon and humanitarian activist (who knew? I didn’t, ’til it came to light after she had to publicly defend, um, her face). It would be a travesty for this to be just another headline that we vaguely recall having seen one time – it is such a vital dialogue in a society where media reinforces perceptions of humanity based too often not on what people do, but what they look like. Please do read Ashley Judd’s full essay.

Post by Meera Innes
Editor Charlotte Gush on Twitter @CavaCharlotte

Meera Innes works in beauty as a Marketing Executive by day and freelance writer and editor by night. Although she works in cosmetics, she feels just as passionate about beauty in all forms and strives to work together with like-minded people to open eyes and broaden minds in a mainstream media-driven society.

Meera is from all over the place with previous spells in Japan, India and Singapore, but for now she is settled in the UK. She has a somewhat neglected blog, Meera Meera On the Wall, and you can find her tweeting all things beauty and some things mundane @Meerabel