Are we hypocrites over Renee Zellweger?

Updated 9:40 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014

Story highlights

LZ: Many buzzed that Renee Zellweger looked different when she appeared at Elle event

LZ: Who doesn't change in 10 years? She says she's happier. Why isn't that enough for us?

He says a country that spends billions on cosmetic surgery is not in a position to judge

LZ: To try to meet media's beauty standard, we all work on appearance

Editor’s Note: LZ Granderson is a CNN contributor, a senior writer for ESPN and a lecturer at Northwestern University. He is a former Hechinger Institute fellow and his commentary has been recognized by the Online News Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Follow him on Twitter @locs_n_laughs. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) —  

Renee Zellweger looks different than she did 10 years ago.

Big deal—who doesn’t?

Maybe she had plastic surgery. Maybe a little lipo, too. Or maybe her new look, at 45, is truly courtesy of her living a healthier, happier life away from the constant media glare, as she reportedly told People Magazine.

LZ Granderson
ESPN
LZ Granderson

Considering how mean-spirited some of the response has been since Zellweger showed up at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards much slimmer than we remembered, who could question the effect time away from the vitriol can have on a person?

Kelly Wallace: Why so quick to pick apart Zellweger’s looks?

Zellweger only spoke with People after the huge fuss the media made about that Elle event, she said, because “the folks who come digging around for some nefarious truth which doesn’t exist won’t get off my porch until I answer the door.”

I would think the real headline is “Public dissatisfied about Renee Zellweger’s happiness.”

Because that’s all she talked about: being happy.

At peace.

The face and body we associated with her for all these years was, in her words, a byproduct of having “a schedule that is not realistically sustainable and didn’t allow for taking care of myself.” Makes sense to me. I can’t tell you how many former NFL players I have come across who look nothing like the men I saw on the field—significant weight loss, clean-shaven, hell, just being clean for a change. And dare I say healthier.

It is possible for people to change without going under the knife. And it is possible to be happy in your own skin, even if you do opt for plastic surgery. More than 15 million cosmetic procedures were performed in 2013. I think it’s safe to assume not all—if any—were done on Zellweger.

In fact, it’s downright hypocritical for anyone in a country that has been known to spend $1.4 billion a year on over-the-counter teeth-whitening products to get bent out of shape if someone does change his or her appearance.

Face it, we’re all nipping and tucking in our way. Our sense of what is beautiful has been redefined by a diet of Photoshopped images – and 45-year-old actresses who feel they must nip and tuck and not look their age in order to be cast.

Those who dare to not join in may be called “less classically beautiful” in the eyes of The New York Times, who tried to pin such a slight on Viola Davis, the star of “How To Get Away With Murder.” I was reminded of the slight in the show’s most recent episode as Davis’ character removed her wig, fake eyelashes, and makeup on camera. There she was completely untouched for the world to see. And the fact that doing so is considered “brave” says more about our culture’s warped sensibilities than Davis’ beauty.

Of course, the backlash over Zellweger’s new look has little if anything to do with her.

For some reason, we want her to answer for something that at the end of the day is none of our business. We want to know why her face appears different, why her signature puffy cheeks are gone. Unfortunately, that she says she is now happy and taking care of herself does not resonate.

We apparently want her to say she had plastic surgery.

Tell me: Who’s the superficial one here?

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