This past week, I sat on the sidelines and watched with morbid fascination the horrible face-shaming our society directed at Renee Zellweger. Remember, this is the same Renee Zellweger who delivers so much joy to this world in the form of her lovely performances in Bridget Jones's Diary, Jerry Maguire, and Empire Records to name just a few. This poor woman is withstanding such personal criticisms for the face she portrays both to the world and to the mirror each morning. Society is not attacking dear Renee for her stance on issues such as child hunger, poverty or violence and war, issues that affect millions of people around the world each day. As a society, we are viscously attacking Renee for allegedly changing her face. I remind you, this is the same society that also saw fit to compare Kim Kardashian to a killer whale when she was nine months pregnant. So I ask you, why have so many of us fallen down the rabbit hole of attacking celebrities on the basis of their looks alone?
This is where I have to thank Renee Zellweger's face for my epiphany. There I sat, critically analyzing the before and after pictures of her face, trying to discern exactly what changed and it hit me like a lightning bolt... my epiphany. I was trying to find flaws in this beautiful woman because I simply could not relate to her image of perfection. Celebrities such as Renee and Kim are oftentimes portrayed as one-dimensional Barbie doll perfect; they have a perfect life, perfect career, perfect bank account and perfect, gorgeous looks. And I simply can't relate to perfection. I'm hiding too many flaws and insecurities on the inside, deep in my heart, to relate in any way with her perfection. Finding the flaws she secretly hides from the world is just a little thrilling and I literally can't look away.
As a society, we point out the flaws in others, especially celebrities such as Renee, because we are trying to find and connect with the humanity hidden behind carefully crafted masks of perfection. We hide behind our own masks of perfection when we carefully edit our Facebook posts and Instagram feeds to portray only the beautiful, the successful, the perfect fairy tale aspects of our lives. We don't want anyone to guess that we secretly hate how we look or that we are slowly going financially and morally bankrupt keeping up with the Joneses. We keep hidden the fact that we feel real human emotions such as pain, suffering and insecurity -- but we do. In fact, these feelings of pain, suffering and insecurity are universal human emotions that connect us all behind our carefully crafted masks of perfection. Behind these episodes of face-shaming we are simply trying to connect with celebrity flaws because we just can't identify with their masks of perfection. We criticize celebrity imperfection because that is what we see in ourselves and oftentimes life behind our very own mask of perfection can get very, very lonely indeed.
So the next time you find yourself picking apart the flaws of the it-girl celebrity to falter in front of the world, realize it is just the lonely, imperfect part of you seeking a human connection with another. Sometimes we are all just looking for the sense of universal human connection that unites us all -- even if we have to find it in Renee's changed face or Kim's pregnancy weight gain.
PS: I'm practicing unbridled vulnerability so I will share what is #behindmymask of perfection... I hide my shame for not losing all of my pregnancy weight one year after the birth of my son. Share what you are hiding behind your mask of perfection in the comments below or on Twitter with the hashtag #behindmymask.