We, all of us, are fully aware of the fact that the world has an unhealthy obsession with our physical appearances. How? Because, every single day, we are subjected to tabloid commentary on the cup size, dress size, weight and thigh circumference of famous women. We are hit with a barrage of speculative headlines about their ‘natural’ hair colour (woe betide any woman who dares bare her greys), about their reproductive status (which is usually, as Eva Longoria previously noted, a flimsy excuse to shame them for after-meal bloating), about their make-up application (we’re slammed for applying it on the train, for applying too much, and for not applying it at all).
It is relentless. So much so that, even when we’ve somehow managed to meet all of the impossible beauty and sartorial standards of the modern world – and, let’s face it, Jennifer Lopez has done a pretty good job of that – then misogynists will still swoop in and find something to comment on.
Something like, maybe, her apparent lack of wrinkles.
Over the weekend, JLo began promoting her new (cosmetic) face mask on her Instagram page.
“Honestly, I cannot even see a line on my face,” she said in a short video, having just taken the mask (which currently retails in the US for $48) off.
“I feel like it took 10 years off my face… this is going to be the top-selling mask in the world.”
The post, naturally, sparked a huge reaction on social media.
“Ma’am! Please stop acting like that isn’t just genetics and moolah!!!!” wrote one person.
Another added: “You’re so beautiful with or without make-up!”
One more pointed out: “You can use this mask for the rest of your life and not have skin like that. This mask is like a chef giving you half the recipe to his secret sauce.”
And another asked: “Why is it so wrong for so many women to have wrinkles on their faces? Think about the message you through in young girls faces when they see things like this.”
All of the above? Well, they all make excellent points, so they’re completely and utterly fair, in this writer’s opinion.
What isn’t fair, though, is how many people decided to jump into JLo’s comments and accuse her of using Botox.
“Wow! Do you have to use Botox and fillers before or after the mask? Asking for a friend,” wrote one cruelly.
“Of course she does Botox. Her forehead hasn’t moved for years. Frozen. She has lied about this. Thinks we are idiots. Lost credibility,” added another.
And one more felt the need to write: “With all the Botox and plastic surgery you’ve had? Of course you look good.”
Responding to the comments, JLo wrote: “For the 500 millionth time, I have never done Botox or any injectables, or surgery!
“Try spending your time being more positive, kind, and uplifting of others — don’t spend your time trying to bring others down, that will keep you youthful and beautiful too!”
That should have been the end of it, of course. However, this ongoing commentary has birthed a string of tabloid stories, all about what Botox is, about the celebrities who have used it, about the celebrities who have denied using it, and about the fact that “JLo doesn’t NEED Botox”, because she has a “naturally youthful appearance” anyway.
And so women all over the world have been subjected to another wave of conflicting – but similarly toxic – beauty standards. Because, all at once, we’ve been told that to use Botox is bad, but that not to use Botox is worse. That ageing is a form of failure, but that using anti-ageing products or procedures is even more so.
Basically, it’s the tabloid equivalent of that iconic scene from HBO’s Game of Thrones: “Shame, shame, shame, shame…”
It doesn’t matter if you’re praising a woman for losing weight, or criticising her weight gain. It doesn’t matter if you’re crowing over the fact she uses Botox and “isn’t as perfect as she makes out”, or saluting her for “ageing gracefully.”
None of it matters, really, because it all has the same impact: when we reduce a woman’s worth to her appearance, we slyly diminish her role and her value as a contributor to society. People care far too much about how things look, rather than looking at how things are. And it’s high time that we speak out against this rampant sexism.
After all, if someone like JLo can’t get through life without having her appearance shamed on social media, who can?