Ashley Judd Talks Real Beauty, Feminism, Plastic Surgery & Aging – And Kicks Butt Doing It!

After brutal speculation over her ‘puffy’ face that had numerous “news outlets” weighing in (pun intended) on potential weight gain, plastic surgery and more, Ashley Judd has spoken out, turning the finger that is so often pointed at women in the media (in this case, herself) back on these so-called “news” outlets. (I put this in quotes because while these were legitimate, highly-respected news networks with names that likely circle your own dinner tables, I am consistently surprised by what these aforementioned news stations classify as newsworthy – no, Octomom’s recent money troubles and Kim Kardashian’s divorce are not breaking news – not anywhere other than on E! anyway).

As Ashley Judd writes in an op-ed originally appearing on The Daily Beast:

“The Conversation about women’s bodies exists largely outside of us, while it is also directed at (and marketed to) us, and used to define and control us. The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification. Our voices, our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted.”

Katy Perry on the media, being makeup free and Real Beauty!

In the media (as well as in our own daily conversations) we fail to define women by their personhood, but rather by the (lack of) worth of their body parts. We dissect women’s bodies, compartmentalize their features and discuss (as if we know the truth) what their tight/sagging faces/breasts/asses/etc mean about their worthiness. While the focus is often on “others” (actresses and other celebrities we see in the media as well as the co-workers, friends, colleagues and acquaintances we gossip about with on a daily basis), the most harm comes when we look at ourselves through this same mean-spirited, superficial and ultimately ineffective and not at all useful lens we’ve become so accustomed to viewing other women through. The greatest harm comes when we look in the mirror and start to break down our own bodies and faces into parts that we criticize to the point of hatred and then come to apply those thoughts to our own self-worth.

I applaud Ashley Judd for trying to avoid reading media that pertains to her. As Judd states,

“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.”

Most women can tell you – as I can tell you – often the conversations we have about our own bodies and worth are harsh enough. Are too harsh. Adding media interjections to the mix is just brutal.

But why do we do this? Why do we partake in these conversations? Why do we support media outlets that criticize other women, blast their cellulite-riden thighs on the covers of magazines, applaud weight loss with vigor one minute only to claim eating disorders the say she’s too thin the next and more? Is it because of our own insecurities that we feel the need to bring other women down?

Ladies, listen up: we’re stronger when we support each other. When we rise, we rise together. Make an effort to engage in constructive dialogue, to support media outlets that support “Real Beauty” and personhood (like The Beauty Bean – shameless plug!) and to treat yourself, your body and others with wholehearted love and respect.

We can change this.

For the record, Judd’s rep told E! news, “Ashley has been battling an ongoing, serious sinus infection and flu. Therefore, Ashley has been on a heavy dose of medication to overcome it so she could get on a plane and travel to Toronto and New York to fulfill her commitment of completing four consecutive days of press to promote her new show Missing.” – But let’s be honest here: when the opportunity to limit women to their parts and criticize them arises, what media outlet really cares about the truth when you can have plastic surgeons (who have never met the woman being dissected) describe (in detail, no less) the procedures she has “clearly” had…

Oprah on aging beautifully!

So, tell me, what do you think?


  1. “Ladies, listen up: we’re stronger when we support each other. ”

    It’s ridiculous to point YOUR finger at ladies. In how many of these news outlets/online comments/social media is it guys that say “she’s ugly”, “she looks like a horse”, “what a fattie”, etc.? How many of the news articles were written by men vs ladies?

    It is not only ladies that need to stop judging based on looks, but men as well.

  2. April – I couldn’t agree with you more. Men and women both need to work to boost each other up, not tear each other down – but the fact is that a lot of women are culprits as well… it’s not just men… To more address your point, though, the vast majority of our audience here at The Beauty Bean is women, which is why this article (and most of our content) is addressed to women. Hope that clarifies :) Thanks for commenting and sharing your feedback!

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