A sample of headlines related to Ashley Judd’s appearance, from the last month: "WTF happened to Ashley Judd’s face?" "What’s Up With Ashley Judd’s Face?" and, charmingly, "Unfug it up." That women’s appearances are focused on so intensely in the media is not news, but in a newly penned op-ed column for the Daily Beast, Judd addressed how it feels to be at the center of negative attention, and how the conversation needs to be changed. "I hold that it is none of my business what people think of me," she writes. "However, the recent speculation and accusations in March feel different, and my colleagues and friends encouraged me to know what was being said. Consequently, 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."
Going on, Judd makes a number of wide-ranging observations, all of which you should read. I’ve excerpted one of those passages below, which seemed like a particularly wizened view on how the attention comes from all angles.
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. 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. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.
As Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams points out, the piece isn’t without its flaws, but it’s mostly just quibbling here and there over how self-satisfied she may or may not be. Which, I mean, yeah: She’s an award-winning millionaire actress with an extensive humanitarian background. Saintliness and abnegation of the ego only go so far before the little part in you screaming "I AM AWESOME!!!" just rips out of your skull. Anyways, it’s a really good column that isn’t worth cannibalizing further in block quotes, so just give it a read.