Ashley Judd Packs a Punch: Actress Calls “Puffy Face” Comments “Misogynistic”
Gossip mags, beware! Ashley Judd is striking back against body bullying.
From the covers of gossip rags to backhanded Facebook comments, women’s bodies are under constant scrutiny. You don’t need to be even a little bit famous to notice the playground-style body bullying that’s appearing all over the Internet, as well as screens big and small.
It can seem nearly impossible to stand up to the misogyny that penetrates nearly every aspect of our lives. But Ashley Judd, a prominent actress and self-proclaimed do-gooder, is so fed up with the confidence-crushing, sensationalized coverage of our lives and our bodies that she’s fighting back.
Remember when outlets like Us Weekly and ABC held debates back in March over whether or not Judd’s “plumped-up” face was an effect of injectable fillers? Well, it turns out that Judd and her team has released word that she was actually suffering from a severe sinus infection and the flu—not that it was anyone’s business, anyway.
And all those insensitive comments? So not okay. In a recent piece featured on The Daily Beast that went viral, Judd poignantly wrote that the talk around her “puffy” face 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.”
Judd’s argument comes on the heels of a similar controversy over Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence’s weight. The New York Times, for example, explained that Lawrence’s “seductive, womanly figure [made] a bad fit for a dystopian fantasy about a people starved into submission.” Meanwhile, although The Hollywood Reporter described the actress in a highly flattering light, its mention of her “lingering baby fat” incited numerous comments from livid fans. Interestingly enough, both publications made no mention of Josh Hutcherson or Liam Hemsworth’s muscular—and not at all emaciated—figures.
But Judd also asserts that men shouldn’t have to shoulder all of the blame. Every time we chat about who’s gained a few pounds or gone under the knife, we contribute to the war on women’s bodies—no matter who is doing the talking.
“That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient,” Judd wrote. “Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it.”
Whether we make a snide remark in passing or publish an article on a well-known media site, we’re all guilty of contributing to the problem. And that means we all lose.
“It doesn’t actually matter if we are aging naturally, or resorting to surgical assistance,” Judd explained in her article. “We experience brutal criticism. The dialogue is constructed so that our bodies are a source of speculation, ridicule, and invalidation, as if they belong to others—and in my case, to the actual public.”
Disheartening, yes, but you have to admit: this leading lady’s got a point. Brava to you, Ashley Judd, and let’s just hope that others in the limelight whip up compelling pieces of their own.
Heeding this call to change requires all of us to avoid making hurtful comments against fellow women and to call out those who do. The road ahead is winding, but Judd has gotten us off to a winning start.
Diana Denza is a regular contributor to BettyConfidential.