“Sorry if this doesn’t work for your vision of what you think I should look like,” write Elle Macpherson.
As such, Macpherson has plenty of followers on Instagram (a whopping 496K, to be exact), all of whom are quick to comment on her many selfies, videos and snaps as they go live. As is always the case with high-profile social media accounts, though, Macpherson isn’t just followed by fans: there’s a troll (or five) in the mix, too.
One such troll crawled out from under their bridge recently to comment on one of Macpherson’s recent posts.
“Whatever you’re doing to your face STOP IT!” they wrote. “You don’t look like yourself anymore!”
Spitefully, they added: “You were beautiful. Now? Not so much.”
Macpherson, however, was unwilling to let the message slide.
“The only thing I’m doing is ageing gracefully without interference,” she wrote, alongside a shrug emoji. “Sorry if it doesn’t work for your vision of what you think I should look like. I’m me. Healthy happy and nearly 60. Go figure.”
Naturally, her denial has triggered a number of speculative tabloid articles – many of which have cast doubt on Macpherson’s cosmetic surgery denial. And it calls to mind Renée Zellweger’s blistering online op-ed, in which the Judy star directly addressed tabloid speculation about her own appearance – and argued that society needs to stop subjecting women to our toxic culture of humiliation.
“It’s no secret a woman’s worth has historically been measured by her appearance,” Zellweger wrote at the time.
“We have evolved to acknowledge the importance of female participation in determining the success of society, and take for granted that women are standard bearers in all realms of high profile position and influence. [But] the double standard used to diminish our contributions remains, and is perpetuated by the negative conversation which enters our consciousness every day as snarky entertainment.”
In the same essay, Zellweger went on to explain: “Not that it’s anyone’s business, but I did not make a decision to alter my face and have surgery on my eyes.”
However, the actor added that, as a woman in the public eye, she is unable to deny the rumours made about her, as it “implies an attempt to cover up the supposed tabloid ‘exposed truth’”.
Choosing to maintain a dignified silence, likewise, has a similar effect.
“[To do so] leaves one vulnerable not only to the usual ridicule, but to having the narrative of one’s life hijacked by those who profiteer from invented scandal,” she said.
As we’ve stressed time and time again, there is so much more to women than the reflection that stares back at them from a bathroom mirror. We are more than our appearance, than the sum of our physical parts. And yet, even in 2020, we still find ourselves measured against some warped standard of beauty, no matter what the context.
The tabloids will continue to churn out articles which point out our lumps and bumps, our grey hairs, our cellulite until… well, until we stop engaging with these headlines. In the meantime, it’s up to us to make a positive change.
So what do we do if we really don’t like another woman’s physical appearance – be it her sartorial choices, her hair, her weight, her age, her face? Well, you know the answer by now: if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
It’s that or we all, as previously suggested, make like Amy Poehler and start shouting the phrase, “Good for you, not for me” from the rooftops. Because these six little words don’t just champion kindness (and, boy, does this world need a lot more of that right now): they also celebrate both difference and an assertion of self, making them the ideal response to someone else’s life choices.
With that in mind, I suggest we all write those on a post-it note and stick it somewhere we can see it when we wake up every morning. And if you decide not to? Well, good for you, not for me, I guess!
Fair warning, though: if I see you trolling, you better bloody believe I’m going to call that injustice out. Peace.