The 4 Reasons Renee Zellweger's Face Actually Scares Us

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On a day when the Canadian parliament was attacked by a terrorist, a serial killer confessed to killing at least seven women in Indiana, and it was announced that an Ebola serum might be available in two weeks, everyone had one question on their minds: "What happened to Renee Zellweger's face?" Hang on to your butts, because I think I might have the answer:

She changed it. End of column. Now, let's tackle global warming and save Detroit!

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Has anyone tried to fix the windows?

I'm trying to figure out how we went from admiring beautiful women to claiming a proprietary stake in their face-skin to the point where we are indignant when women change themselves. And before continuing, this topic is on my mind on the daily. I have a kid who's in driver's ed, who's (hopefully) less than three years away from leaving home altogether. My high school class just celebrated its 20-year reunion. My mom was a grandma by the time she was my age. I can sing the 1983 HBO feature movie introduction with Adam Tod Brown, and I could easily do any opening dance from Blossom if someone just asked nicely enough. I'm on the youngish side of old, is what I'm saying, and I've got a lot of skin in this particular game. Some of the skin is puddling together at my neck area.

#4. We Don't Actually Know What "Natural" Looks Like

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At the 2014 Academy Awards, 81-year-old Kim Novak was skewered for looking "unrecognizable," while 67-year-old Sally Field was praised for keeping things natural. What everyone forgot was that no one recognized Kim Novak, because no one has looked at her for five decades and that Sally Field's beautiful, fresh-faced Oscar glow was a little bit shocking for a woman approaching 70. Beautiful, yes, but in an eerie, Paul Rudd way.

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I suspect we wouldn't know what natural aging looked like if it slapped us in the face with its weirdly new white skin patches that look like reverse freckles. While we're at it, are my weirdly new white skin patches that look like reverse freckles normal? Don't answer that. When we see a celebrity go overboard with the lip-plumping and the Botox, our first instinct is to point to Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, or Susan Sarandon as paradigms of natural aging, conveniently forgetting that all three women were bombshells up until a decade or so ago. You don't get to hold up Helen Mirren as the pinnacle of aging gracefully when Helen Mirren started out looking like this:

That's like holding up Buckingham Palace as an example of good housekeeping. Pointing to any Hollywood icon as an illustration of how to age is as rude as pointing to an elderly lady working at Walmart as an example of how not to age. It's an apples to oranges comparison, but in this case the apples are Paltrows and the oranges are everyone else. Claiming that someone is creeping closer to their inevitable death the "right" or "wrong" way is stupider than getting plastic surgery in the first place.

#3. We're Congratulating Ourselves for Our Vanity

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What's really bizarre about Renee's new face isn't Renee's new face. It's that every A-list actress who sits in an interview chair is now asked about their feelings on plastic surgery and Botox -- like that's a part of their routine talking points.

Now who's ready to ask me about my bowels?

So, of course, when you ask beautiful women whose faces have been shaped by God himself what they think of plastic surgery, they're going to say, "Not for me." What you don't expect is A-List actresses to rain a hellfire of judgment and scorn for everyone else who gets it done. Gwyneth Paltrow thought Joan Rivers looked like a freak; Sofia Vergara isn't impressed with Madonna's cheeks; Rachel Weisz doesn't think actors should be allowed to get Botox; Tina Fey thinks people who get Botox look like shiny candles. These are actors talking presumably about other professionals in their field, not bloggers writing to no one, like the rest of us. If I told my co-workers my opinion on their faces, they'd assume I was crazy. And then they'd sue me for making the workplace hostile.

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It says here Soren Bowie is suing you for saying he has a "pretty mouth" -- is that right?

So what makes otherwise civil people think that a person's face is open ground for public debate? I'm asking myself here, because I specifically mentioned Michael Jackson's plastic surgery in my last column, and because I've privately and publicly said that perfection is boring. But think about the arrogance required to make that call -- to take a proprietary interest in the face of a stranger and feel justified in complaining when they change it.

By the by, when's the last time you heard of a male actor getting praised for aging gracefully? Which brings me to my next point.

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Kristi Harrison

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