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Ashley Judd Takes On Media In Strong Essay

Fires back after rumors circulate about surgery

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Actress Ashley Judd is known to speak her mind when she’s passionate about something, and considering she’s obviously well-read and informed about a wide spectrum of things, it’s worth taking a moment to listen. Or, in this case, to read.

Judd has written an essay for The Daily Beast regarding the media and our society’s obsession with women’s bodies/faces, and it came about because of some snarky comments made about her own appearance last month. When photos were taken of her during a press tour for the ABC show “Missing”, several media outlets reported that her face looked decidedly “puffy” and immediately jumped to the conclusion that she’d had plastic surgery. One site even went to the trouble of asking a surgeon–one not associated with Judd in any way–for his professional opinion on what she may have had done. Judd says she simply had a sinus infection and if there was any change in her visage it was due to the medication she took to clear it up, which included steroids.

“Who makes the fantastic leap from being sick, or gaining some weight over the winter, to a conclusion of plastic surgery?” Judd asks in her essay. “Our culture, that’s who. The insanity has to stop, because as focused on me as it appears to have been, it is about all girls and women. In fact, it’s about boys and men, too, who are equally objectified and ridiculed, according to heteronormative definitions of masculinity that deny the full and dynamic range of their personhood. It affects each and every one of us, in multiple and nefarious ways: our self-image, how we show up in our relationships and at work, our sense of our worth, value, and potential as human beings.”

The 43-year old actress says she doesn’t make a habit of reading the things that are written about her, but in this case friends urged her to research what was happening after the rumors reached a fever pitch and went viral on the web.

One quote from the essay is particularly striking; as someone who shakes her head in the checkout line at all the ridiculous magazine headlines–Jessica Simpson’s “battle with baby weight” comes to mind–, I found this paragraph to sum up our culture in a sadly profound way.

“When I have gained weight, going from my usual size two/four to a six/eight after a lazy six months of not exercising, and that weight gain shows in my face and arms, I am a “cow” and a “pig” and I “better watch out” because my husband “is looking for his second wife.” (Did you catch how this one engenders competition and fear between women? How it also suggests that my husband values me based only on my physical appearance? Classic sexism. We won’t even address how extraordinary it is that a size eight would be heckled as “fat.”)”

The well-written essay is full of good points. Why does our society pick apart even the slightest change or flaw–whether real or imagined–in a celebrity? While it’s not limited to the famous among us, they certainly bear the brunt of ill-will because they are in a constant spotlight. Women are perhaps the worst perpetrators–we are our own worst enemy–but the media is certainly an accomplice. And while Judd is the most recent star to be thrown under the bus, there were many before her and there will be many after. So what is the solution?

As Judd says, we must change the conversation about ourselves and each other. Perhaps the first stop on the way to change is realizing that we don’t have to sacrifice our dignity, our class, or our self-respect to get it.

Ashley Judd Takes On Media In Strong Essay
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  • Nellie Owens

    You make us all proud, Ashley.

    We are livng in a period of time when our children are not instilled
    with proper education, grooming, hygiene, etc., etc., etc.
    You are amazingly learned in so many catagories, it fascinates me.

    You are absolutely right about the criticisms that we all are guilty
    of putting out there. Let our actors be human and not glorified.
    We won’t continually expect them to be perfect if we condition our
    minds to view them as human.

    Thank you Ashley. You are what good citizens should be everywhere.

    Respectfully, Nellie Owens (74)
    418 North Hill Street
    Morristown, Tn. 37814

    P.S. Your vocabulary is off any charts I have witnessed lately.

    • http://google JAMES CAGNEY

      ….if there is ONE REALITY… it is the (hillarious…) hypocrisy of the entertainment industry….

      when the females are trying to get into the industry…they will do anything … just short of killing themselves (and sometimes … even that!!!) … to get their “foot in the door”… and to get the media’s attention…

      the females starve themselves till they are the side of a pencil… and then try to appear happy in public …when they are half dead from starvation…. and will keep it up… till they give up and go home … or till they make it in the (extremely) sickening entertainment business….

      But then after they’ve made it… IT IS— OH SO WRONG FOR THE OTHER (up and coming …) females to following the same sick techniques.

      What a bunch of phonies!!

  • Nellie Owens

    You make us all proud, Ashley.

    We are livng in a period of time when our children are not instilled
    with proper education, grooming, hygiene, etc., etc., etc.
    You are amazingly learned in so many catagories, it fascinates me.

    You are absolutely right about the criticisms that we all are guilty
    of putting out there. Let our actors be human and not glorified.
    We won’t continually expect them to be perfect if we condition our
    minds to view them as human.

    Thank you Ashley. You are what good citizens should be everywhere.

    Respectfully, Nellie Owens (74)
    418 North Hill Street
    Morristown, Tn. 37814

    P.S. Your vocabulary is off any charts I have witnessed lately.

  • Jennifer

    Although this is a terrific article and makes valid points, I’m afraid the young people who need to read it are not paying attention. Mature men and women with eating issues have their minds set and they know how they should be taking care of their bodies but their habits take over. These men, and more so women, possibly moms, are setting examples for the younger ones. These younger girls, impressionable girls, are concerned about the girl next to them looking better than they. They are also thinking of the boy they want to look amazing for. The media and magazines set them up and their brains just absorb whatever they are fed. These brains are very impressionable and at a young age, rarely have the sophistication to make their own decisions. I am glad Ashley took a stand for herself. I wish there were a million more willing to.