“What happened to her face?” I asked my husband, as I nestled into our warm couch to watch the guilty pleasure-ridiculousness that is “Missing” – otherwise known to me as Jason Bourne for moms.
Then came the next week.
“Seriously, why does she look like that? Why is her face so puffy?” I asked out loud – again – receiving no response. I was mystified.
Then another week came and went, and I was still watching Jason Bourne for moms….as much for the beautiful scenery throughout Europe of places and cities I’d rather be right now – in this very moment – as for the Ashley Judd turns Jason Bourne excitement. “Okay, is it me or is she so puffy?” I asked him again. Clearly I wasn’t letting this one go.
“Well, she doesn’t quite look like Jennifer Garner in Alias, so maybe that’s part of it,” he finally answered, acknowledging my petty questions all these weeks.
The ground suddenly shifted beneath him as my powerful feminist self floated above the sofa and breathed fire upon the sexist man who dare insult woman-kind everywhere. Is this the man I married, thought moi, as visions of my former-hardcore feminist self protesting outside of strip clubs in college, flooded my brain.
In record time, my own personal criticisms of Ashley Judd’s face conveniently escalated from being snarky and obnoxious, to rage against the male patriarchy that has the nerve to judge a beautiful woman because she isn’t 20 years old anymore.
“Hey ageist, sexist jerk, she’s like almost 50 years old and looks amazing, how dare you compare her to Jennifer Garner in 2004! That is SO RUDE,” I huffed.
Apparently double-standards do not make for two-way streets chez moi.
C’est vrai. Ain’t life grand for Mr. Wired Momma?
Then last week came word from the Ms. Ashley Judd herself about her puffy face. I eagerly read it on the Daily Beast’s web site and posted it on my WM FB page. I didn’t really have a comment for it because I wasn’t sure how to process it but I felt it should be shared anyway. In part because I was hoping someone else would help me reconcile it all in my head.
Then I kept thinking about it.
Without acknowledging my own hypocrisy to Mr. Wired Momma (how dare he get that satisfaction), I mulled her words about female bodies, the harsh judgment we all place on them and then her point that patriarchy is not just perpetuated by men- but actually women because we willfully participate in mean and hateful comments about other women’s bodies. I wondered why I was so thrown off by her puffy appearance and why I cared.
Truly, why was I so curious about her face? But still, somehow, I wasn’t fully on board with Ashley Judd’s essay. Despite my minor in women’s studies.
Then I read Alexandra Petri’s column about it in the Washington Post over the weekend and snarky and flippant as she might be, I have to say, she put her finger on what wasn’t sitting right with me this whole time – Ashley Judd is an actress and she is judged not just for her acting skill but for her beauty.
Like it or not.
And we don’t just do this to women, we do it to male actors.
Think back to the glory years of Friends…..don’t tell me we all weren’t tracking Chandler Bing’s bloated druggie face and body – that he not-so-carefully hid behind those sweet sweater vests. Just as an example. We judge male and female actors for their appearances. Tell me – would meme’s from Jason Alexander go viral with the speed they do from Ryan Gosling?
It ain’t because of Ryan Gosling’s personality.
Petri’s words were harsh but in my efforts at being brutally honest, which is partly why you love moi and WM, I have to say I do take them less seriously coming from an actress because I am all but certain there are plenty of women out there who are equally as talented as Ashley Judd but never stood a chance in a cold day in hell because they weren’t thin enough or as beautiful. Her beauty opened doors for her and made her millions – not just her talent – so she’s going to be judged for it – by women and men.
I do, however, fall back on her words and questions as to why women are so keen to judge each other. We are our own harshest critics and we buy the gossip mags criticizing each other – not men. Or at least not many men.
And most importantly, what does this mean for our own kids? THAT is what is important about this dialogue. I couldn’t really care less that an actress’ feelings are hurt but I do think she raises important points about our culture. None of them new points but still important ones.
Ashley Judd’s manifesto serves this purpose: to compel me to do better about not talking about other women’s appearances so that my kids don’t mimic this behavior. Our weight goes up, our weight goes down, does it matter? No. Is it anyone’s business? No.
When I was pregnant, I was so appreciative any time someone told me I looked good, even if I knew they were lying through their teeth, because I wanted that affirmation. Then I had my baby and well, I didn’t look good. And when people would come see me after I had her and they would say nothing, it would only affirm what I already thought about my appearance.
What a ridiculous waste of time, I have since concluded now that I haven’t been pregnant for a few years. I’ve made a personal pact to not comment on how a pregnant woman appears or how she looks after she’s given birth. It isn’t relevant. Does she have on amazing shoes? A great dress? A super stylish new haircut?
Then I’ll say something.
How her body looks doesn’t need public commentary.
Because I don’t want my girls seeking this out. And my personal pact isn’t just about pregnant women or new moms, it’s about all of my friends. Or frenemies. Or even enemies. Cause I have a lot of those, naturally.
Look, the point is, let’s just stop talking about our bodies. And even stop buying magazine covers that are headlining articles about the great shrinking celebrity new mom’s body or the great enormous size of Jessica Simpson’s pregnant body. Let’s keep the focus more on Ms. Piggy’s Moi Loves Moi and less on “Moi’s body doesn’t look so much like Jennifer Garner’s in a one-piece hot suit from Alias.”
Sure it does. Believe it sister. Cause our kids deserve to think this way. This goes for mothers of boys just as much as mothers of girls.
So that’s how I made Ashley Judd’s essay on herself, about moi.
As for Mr. Wired Momma….he’s still in the doghouse for being a jerk about it.
For more tips on yelling at husbands for affirming what you’ve been saying for weeks…and other such wisdom, “like” the Wired Momma FB page. It’s a happy place where everyone has an amazing body and great accessories. Moi Loves Moi.