False Perceptions, True Reality
Author: Tiffany Soyster Date: May 03, 2012
I just erased a whole post that I had written.
It was funny. At least, I thought it was. But, I couldn't bring it around to say what I wanted it to. I was working on it and working on it, and I couldn't get past the typical "girls, don't feel pressured by the media to look a certain way." Which, is a totally legit message.
I do believe that girls- and even celebrities themselves- are pressured to look a certain way. Just look at all the hubbub surrounding Jessica Simpson and her pregnancy weight gain.
Granted, she is pregnant, and she is supposed to gain weight, and by her own admission, she may not have the best diet right now. But, does that give the gossip columnists any right to criticize her for how her figure has changed since 2005, 8 years ago, when she was 25?
And, then I read this article, written by Ashley Judd, regarding her infamous puffy face moment.
It seems a few weeks ago, the starlet made a few appearances promoting her new television series, and the media went crazy, accusing her of excessive weight gain and even some botched plastic surgery attempts.
Her publicist responded by disclosing that Judd has been taking steroids for a prolonged infection/medical issue.
But, as always, the truth wasn't enough.
A few of the comments include:
"...If she has had a stroke, think of how much encouragement and hope she could give to others..."
"...Can't celebrities just tell the truth? Its either she simply gained some weight that went too her face or had some work done. To blame it on flu/sinuses meds is really ridiculous."
And I became furious. I have a very dear friend who has been suffering from a chronic digestive problem. And her doctors put her on steroids to help maintain her symptoms. And after just a week of taking the meds, her face began to swell, and she developed the classic "moon face" due to prednisone use.
And despite the extreme changes in her face, she has continued to meet for our weekly lunch dates. She has continued to attend church. She has gone about her life, despite the distasteful looks she has garnered from people in public.
Regardless of how Judd- who, let's be honest, is just as beautiful in the recent picture- acquired the "puffy face," why do we feel we have the right to judge her, and even go as far as to call her a liar.
Instead, think of how hard it must be for Judd to be seen like that (side note: "moon face" or not, I would LOVE to look as awesome as Judd does), knowing that as soon as the cameras start snapping the photos, the comments will start flying. Is it her status as a Hollywood star that gives us the right to scrutinize every aspect of who she is as a person? And if we are this tough on people who are noticeably gorgeous in every way, what must our teens and our students think about themselves when they overhear us talking about "the few extra pounds" that Judd is holding on to, or the "huge, morbidly obese" (yes, that was a comment I read) Jessica Simpson?
Do we not realize that our words can figuratively cut like a knife? And, eventually, they can lead to the literal cuts that a teen makes on herself as she screams for someone to notice.
I've seen the reality of this stuff. In the classroom. I've seen girls without 10 extra pounds talking about wanting to shed 15. This is a mindset that we've allowed to invade our consciousness.
And I encourage all of us to break the cycle. Stop commenting about the celebrities we see. Because to our teens, those comments seem to be just as much pointed at them. When we criticize beauty, body type, shape and size, especially of those who seem to personify beauty in our culture, we are telling our teens they just don't measure up. And I don't know about you, but that is not the message I want my daughter to get from me.