So, Renee Zellweger got a new face. Megan Garber already wrote what I wanted to say and did it better.
But you know whose face no one seems to be writing about with as much criticism and doubt? Bono. Bono who just told us about his face after 20 years. He copped on the Graham Norton Show to having glaucoma. He finally explained how the signature sunglasses he’s been sporting to meet Congressmen in their offices and to woo fans onstage are actually his shields against irritating lights.
So Renee, whom most people would likely recognize on an awards show but might not immediately notice in an elevator, becomes a tabloid bat girl overnight. We can’t stop looking and studying and doing a fair compare. The?
But Bono, whom most people would walk into an elevator and pass out from the star encounter, gets to throw shade for 20 years. When he finally feels ready to share, we say, Sure, dude. Glad you’re getting the treatment you need. Then we go back to eating our Luna Bars and hearting all of Instagram with its filtered pics.
You might say, yeah, but Renee changed her face permanently. Bono just put on a pair of specs. It’s not the same.
Or did she? Or did he?
Why don’t we want to believe the stories people tell us about themselves? Why do we believe ourselves an authority on others’ lives? Why is there only one acceptable narrative, until the better, truthier one emerges? What if Renee is just really taking better care of herself, getting more rest? Do I believe it? Why does it matter?
I asked my newsreporting students: What is the question you get asked that immediately puts you into a box?
Women and men alike responded…
“You’re so tall–why don’t you play basketball?”
“You have a disability–will you be able to get a job?”
“You’re from Nigeria–do you know my cousin from the Congo?”
“You moved here from New York–how has your adjustment been?”
It made me realize: Sometimes we don’t like the answers we’re given because we aren’t asking the right questions, or we aren’t waiting for the right time.
Or maybe–maybe the answer isn’t ready yet. Maybe it’s going to take another 20 years.