Last week social media went crazy for the Women’s Health Magazine cover of Britney Spears displaying her famously taut abs. While a lot of the buzz was complimentary, a huge section of talk was about Britney’s face and how many felt it looked different, very un-Britney. But I don’t want to talk about what she did or didn’t do to her appearance. Instead, I’d like to address why we care.
I understand the popular growing sentiment of rocking what your mama gave ya, and that’s fantastic, we should be more accepting of who we physically are naturally, but also we should be accepting of those who decide to change. Now I don’t know if Britney did anything to her face, be it Botox, a nose job or just good ole fashioned Photoshop because, sadly, I am not on her Christmas card list, but I do know that she looks great and that at 33 she is not likely to look how we remember her as a teenager. When Britney first danced her way into pop culture stardom, she was 17 years old, wore braided pigtails and a plaid mini skirt. Nearly 16 years later she’s a mother of two who has been through some serious mental ups and downs, not unlike many of us. Time, stress, and life… it changes us both physically and mentally. If you looked at a picture of me from 16 years ago, well, I wouldn’t be happy about it but I could guarantee you that you’d say I look very different today.
I don’t want to argue about Britney Spears’ changing looks throughout her public years because to me it’s a non-issue. What bothers me is how quick so many people are to pick out something to criticize. I thought we were living in a time that was working on celebrating beauty in all forms, shapes and sizes, a society praising men and women for being who they are with no apologies. Instead I see a society that wants to advocate for natural beauty but lambast those who are not comfortable doing so. Case in point Rene Zellweger. Rene recently stepped out with a dramatically different look, no longer the cute squinty girl we remember from movies like “Jerry Maguire” or “Chicago” and was met with an onslaught of criticism from complete strangers who felt they had the right to tell her how she should look.
I think its media explosions like this that further damage women’s view of themselves. It tells us that no matter what we do, someone will be there to knock us down with an opinion of what they think we should be. When a celebrity steps out a few pounds heavier, or thinner, everyone is quick to chime in with their thoughts. Britney even sang about it in “Piece of Me” saying, “I'm Mrs. she's too big now she's too thin”. I guess the lesson here is you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. We can’t please everyone and at the end of the day we shouldn’t be trying or caring.
It can be an extremely hard thing to do, not caring about what others think of you, especially if you’re someone who’s had a lot of those loud opinions thrown at you, but it’s worth the work. I struggle everyday to silence the outside judgments I often think I’ll receive and on days when I see a beautiful woman, such as Britney Spears or Rene Zellweger, become scrutinized for how she looks, I can’t help but wonder what the heck they would say about me if I were in the public eye. I shudder to think. It’s time we let each other just be. It’s time we ignore the articles, posts and comments picking people apart, making their bodies or appearance fodder for tabloids. We’re all different, in looks, beliefs and taste and it’s quite simple, if you don’t have anything nice to say… don’t!