Okay, so I admit it. When I first saw the commercial for Ashley Judd’s new show Missing, I said it.
“Whoa. Ashley Judd isn’t looking so good.” Or, “Whoa. Ashely Judd is getting old.” Or some other such unflattering comment, that almost surely included “Whoa.”
Today I read an article on the Daily Beast where Judd fired back at the criticisms surrounding her “puffy” face.
“…I choose to address it because the conversation was pointedly nasty, gendered, and misogynistic and embodies what all girls and women in our culture, to a greater or lesser degree, endure every day, in ways both outrageous and subtle. The assault on our body image, the hypersexualization of girls and women and subsequent degradation of our sexuality as we walk through the decades, and the general incessant objectification is what this conversation allegedly about my face is really about.”
And, she’s right. She goes on to talk about the different conclusions that are being made about her in the so-called legitimate news sources.
“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 point that really got to me was when she said, “That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient. Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate.”
I was participating in the patriarchy of my society, and it is internalized so seamlessly that I didn’t think twice about it. As a new mom, and as a mother of a daughter, these issues are important to me. Creating a healthy self-esteem and body image in young girls and teenagers is hard enough without the added pressure of a mother’s judgement or attitude – whether purposeful and self-aware or not. I had a strong female role model in my mother, and I hope to provide careful elevated guidance to Adelaide. Sorry, Ashley Judd. You may not look the same as your 25-year-old self, but who does? You’re beautiful. Appearance aside, it’s your intelligence and articulate arguments that impress me most.