The Twitterverse lit up last week with talk of actress Ashley Judd's plastic surgery. Except it wasn't true. She was spotted with a puffy face on a talk show, which led to speculation and criticism and Ashley would have none of it.
Her rep fired back with a statement denying any plastic surgery and stating that Ashley "has been battling an ongoing, serious sinus infection and flu" and had "been on a heavy dose of medication to overcome it."
Judd penned a piece for the Daily Beast, popped off on NBC piping mad about the false allegations, and stole the narrative away from the nasty gossipmongers. Suddenly we found ourselves in a worthwhile debate about the broader issue of how women are perceived in society.
I hold that it is none of my business what people think of me. I arrived at this belief after first, when I began working as an actor 18 years ago, reading everything. I evolved into selecting only the "good" pieces to read. Over time, I matured into the understanding that good and bad are equally fanciful interpretations. I do not want to give my power, my self-esteem, or my autonomy, to any person, place, or thing outside myself. I thus abstain from all media about myself. The only thing that matters is how I feel about myself, my personal integrity, and my relationship with my Creator. Of course, it's wonderful to be held in esteem and fond regard by family, friends, and community, but a central part of my spiritual practice is letting go of otheration. And casting one's lot with the public is dangerous and self-destructive, and I value myself too much to do that.
And the introspection hit a chord with women everywhere, many of whom took to Twitter to tell their stories using the hashtag #PuffyFaceMoment.
"A woman patted me on the stomach and asked when I was due. I've never been pregnant. #puffyfacemoment"
"A female coworker saying "Ohmygosh, I HAVE to blow dry my hair EVERY DAY....or it will look like YOURS". #puffyfacemoment"
"An ex, on my post baby short haircut: "You look like a Mom." (later insistence that he meant a MILF no help) #puffyfacemoment"
"was teased as a kid when wearing a ponytail cause of protruding ears. Carried w me thru adulthood but no more!#PuffyFaceMoment"
Even fellow actress, Minnie Driver, bared her soul in the Twitter confessional:
"a NY daily reviewed me in Circle of Friends thus:'A jaw as square as a window frame and a face with no view'"
I could add to the mix with a literal puffy face moment of my own when weeks after delivering a healthy baby boy, a woman asked me when I was due.
It's hard not to get down on yourself when someone tells you or, even worse, the world that you're -- fill in the blank -- ugly, fat, untalented. Judd helped remind us that even when the negative accusations attempt to pierce your self-esteem, the best medicine is to fight back -- hard.
Follow Lauren Ashburn on Twitter: www.twitter.com/laurenashburn