Plastic Surgery Is OK — As Long As You’re White

The rush to defend Renée Zellweger’s right to plastic surgery is another example of how female celebrities of color are treated differently in popular culture.

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When Renée Zellweger walked the red carpet at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards last week with a face that many deemed “unrecognizable,” the reaction from the court of public opinion was swift, relentless, and all-too-expected: What had she done to herself? And why? Her crime appeared to be plastic surgery, and many were quick to judge her for it. But what happened in the hours following was something remarkable and rare: The internet declared a mistrial. Numerous news outlets, including this one, rushed to Zellweger’s defense, and the mirror that had been thrust so closely to her face swiveled around to reflect our own ugliness — namely, the impossible standards of beauty and youth to which we hold female celebrities, and the backlash said celebrities face when they go behind the back of Mother Nature to achieve them.

But the think pieces, tweets, and status updates begging us to just “leave Renée alone” don’t represent a feminist shift toward a society that promotes fairer and more realistic expectations for the looks and choices of women in Hollywood. Rather, they illuminate our collective tendency to defend and protect a specific type of female celebrity — a white one.

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From left: Lil’ Kim in 1999, in 2012, and in February 2014.

Last year, rap legend Lil’ Kim was mocked relentlessly for a face that the Huffington Post described as “hamster cheeks, smooth complexion, and Michael Jackson nose.” Like Zellweger, Lil’ Kim had been relatively absent from the spotlight for some time since her years as a multiplatinum-selling rapper, one of hip-hop’s few female stars. When she appeared in 2013 at events in West Hollywood and New Jersey with high, prominent cheekbones, full lips, a tapered nose, and lighter, tighter skin, she, too, was considered “startlingly unrecognizable.” Yet, outside of a few fan comments on articles, there was no “leave Lil’ Kim alone,” nor were there dozens of web writers critically examining the culture that condemned her. Instead, on Twitter, several users likened her face to plastic masks worn by murderers in last year’s horror hit The Purge. By contrast, Zellweger’s transformation has exposed an “imbalanced culture,” “savage news cycle,” and “horrible face-shaming.”

The Lil’ Kim example, while parallel, is admittedly not a perfect one. Lil’ Kim had been slowly transforming her face for some time, looked markedly more different than Zellweger’s (whose didn’t look that much different), and some of her alterations — the apparent skin lightening, the nose job — seemed to show a woman who was not only trying to achieve a more youthful look, but also a whiter one.

Nonetheless. Didn’t she also deserve the right to make her own choice without being “face shamed”? And why was she forced, through her rep, to issue a harshly worded statement in her own defense, while Zellweger was able to make gracious comments after what seemed like the bulk of online news media was already on her side?

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Lil’ Kim isn’t the only black celebrity who hasn’t had the luxury of getting defended by the court of online opinion. Nicki Minaj has been questioned endlessly about the legitimacy — or, rather, lack thereof — of her signature derriere, as well as her face. Yet, while many feminists have debated and defended her sexuality and lyrics, they’ve been relatively (though not completely) quiet on her right to have whatever plastic surgery she wants and get people off her back(side).

Or, look at Kim Kardashian, whose history of dating black men, ample curves, and ethnic ambiguity proximate her in many minds closer to blackness than to whiteness. Like Minaj, the solution to the “riddle” of whether Kardashian’s butt, nose, or post-pregnancy weight loss are natural has been debated over and over and over again — instead of holding her up as an example of the impossible demands put upon female celebrities (and despite her repeated answers).

While the defense of Zellweger was ultimately a necessary feminist act, it was also an exclusionary one, born of a casual hypocrisy not unlike that which propelled the names of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and Ariana Grande to the headlines of the celebrity nude leak scandal while burying those of Jill Scott, Gabrielle Union, and Keke Palmer. Zellweger’s beauty — artificial or not — is something to cherish and protect, while the beauty of women like Lil’ Kim, Minaj, and Kardashian simply isn’t.

As if that weren’t enough, the “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” paradox that women in Hollywood face when it comes to plastic surgery carries an extra edge for those of color. As explored in Maureen O’Connor’s lengthy article on the trend of “ethnic plastic surgery” earlier this year, many of the procedures undergone by women of color are seen — usually by white people — as an attempt at “Westernizing” (read: whitening) themselves. Rather than just famous people trying to keep up like everyone else in Hollywood, celebrities of color who go under the knife are also stripped of their agency and authenticity. At best, they’re victims of a majority that doesn’t grasp that perhaps not everyone actually needs (or wants) to look like them. At worst, they’re race traitors.

All women have the right to not be shamed for plastic surgery. But they’ll have a much easier time of it if they’re white and already conform to a normative standard of beauty that is also defined by whiteness. Should Zellweger have been defended? Absolutely. But so should Lil’ Kim. Until that happens on as broad a scale, our “feminism” will be nothing more than plastic.

Read more:

5/05 Dancing with Stars Elimination Shocker, LiL Kim and Derek Hough NOT in the Semi-finals!


Lil Kim was our safe bet going into at least Top 4 in Dancing with the Stars. She has had some strong performances throughout the competition and been a consistent high scorer in the judges board. Being partnered with current professional champ Derek Hough should have also added to creating a winner out of her.

We can’t fathom how Ty Murray managed to outlast Chuck Wicks in April 28 results and now Lil Kim going into the semi-final rounds. Sure he is perhaps the most improved dancer but still that doesn’t make him one!

We didn’t realize a rodeo athlete could have so many fans over a rapper/singer and a country music singer! Or is it the Chelsie Hightower magic and “beginner’s luck” debuting into Dancing with the Stars as a professional partner? We’ll see but they must go.

A Gilles vs Melissa is more like it or perhaps a Gilles vs Shawn in the finale. We can see Gilles in the finals loud and clear but we’re seeing a battle between Shawn and Melissa for the Top 2 spot. Oh at least this is getting exciting! Our issue is that performance nights compete with 24 and results nights with American Idol, it’s very hard for us to follow this show!!


The results:

Recap of the performances:

4/20 Dancing With The Stars Performance Night Seven and 4/21 Results

Last week, the Jack Ass was eliminated. He never had a chance, and now can go back to firing himself out of a cannon or whatever other crazy concocted silliness he can construe.

On the Performance Night Monday, it was all talent.

1. First was Melissa and Tony. We were worried about Melissa because of her first position, which is a position of doom- dancing first!! But she aced it with phenomenal leg work, so fast that sometimes we swear it was barely visible. If this gal is not a pro, she should be. (10/10)

2. Lawrence and Edyta – Lawrence took Edyta out for golf and showed her she had no prayer to do that, so it was difficult for him to do dance. OK, but that won’t make him better than the competition. Lawrence was stuff and weak in his performance. (6/10)

3. Lil Kim and Derek – Lil Kim is so amazing of late, she is shocking. She got a misplaced 8 from the geriatric judge while the other two judges gave her a 10. Because of that she tried to tone down her strong point, which is her sexy personality. It was a miss, but it won’t send her home. (8/10)

chuck_julianne4. Chuck and Julianne – OK, tonight Chuck had it completely. He was confident and sexy. He had all the moves and was leading Julianne for a change. We loved it. His footwork was spot on . Even his outfit was great. (10/10)

5. Ty and Chelsie –  Ty’s only hope is Lawrence. He was relatively graceful, but he looks like a guy dancing at a country western bar, not a pro. It isn’t fair, because riding bulls isn’t like riding Chelsie Hightower. But then, life isn’t fair and this is a dance competition. (7/10)

6. Shawn and Mark – Shawn has all the moves. And for her young age, she is every bit as sexy as every other woman in this competition. She has spectacular leg movement. She never misses a move. We caught her peeking at Mark once so we can’t give her a 10, but she was awesome. (9/10)

lawrence_edytaRESULTS Tuesday:

7. Gilles and Cheryl – Well, last week, Gilles wasn’t on his game and ended up lagging. So he came back to kill it, and he did. It is very clear he has had prior dance training, because he looks like as much of a pro as Cheryl. (10/10)

That is it, Lawrence was last, but Ty is at risk as well and would go next week anyway.

So, who would go home on Dancing With The Stars tonight?  Would we be right?  Let’s see.

No surprises.  The bottom two were exactly as we called it.  Ty and Lawrence.  Lawrence goes back to playing golf and Ty gets one more week.

4/7 Dancing With The Stars 8 Results- No Comic Standing

davidalangrierWe feel kind of bad about David Alan Grier. He was eliminated tonight and he is much better than Lawrence Taylor or Ty Murray. His strange mannerisms, however, may have been his downfall in the voting of the audience which killed him despite getting top scores from the judges.

We expect Lawrence to be next to go. He dances like Frankenstein. Clumsy, stiff and straining from dance to dance, he just isn’t in this competition.

Gilles Marini is killing this crowd. He could be training other stars next year. We don’t believe he got this good this year and have to believe this man has danced professionally before. His consistent 9s and 10s could even take out Shawn Johnson and Lil Kim.

In the meantime, though, we will enjoy watching the three leading teams all the way to the final three and we are adding a fourth. Lil Kim, Shawn, Melissa and Gilles. We could just have gone to these four several weeks ago and saved time. They are two points above the others. And Gilles is a point above the other three. If he keeps it up, there is little question about the outcome.


3/31 Dancing With the Stars Results, Holly Madison and Steve Wozniak Out- About Time!


hollymadison_dmitryIt it difficult to get excited about DWS when Idol is on, and that remains our primary focus.

At least this week, the audience got it right, getting rid of the two worst in the competition. Steve Wozniak & Holly Madison were sent packing, leaving only the real contenders.

Nothing has really changed. The front runners: Melissa, Gilles and Shawn are exactly who we expect to win and are still the top performers each week. When we get to the final 3, this will be a very interesting competition. Right now, it is rather predictable.

The dances from last night…

It’s too bad Dmitry Chaplin is cut off this early in his Dancing with the Stars debut. We enjoyed him in SYTYCD and he has yet to show what he can do in DWS. We hope to see him next season!

Sidebit info: Karina Smirnoff is engaged to co-Dancing With the Stars dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Current celeb partner, computer whiz Steve Wozniak is “giving her away” on her wedding day slated at the end of this year.


3/24 Dancing With The Stars Results, Apple-y, Rinse, Repeat


It is looking like we are going to have a bit of a repeat of last year
. They are repeating the Cloris Leachman theme keeping in Steve Wozniak of Apple fame for comic relief. He is funny to watch dance, but he has absolutely no dance talent.

The week went pretty much as predicted. The bottom two left for the dance-off was between our two bottoms next to Steve. The comic relief vote may last a couple of weeks or so before Steve gets the boot, and in the meantime, there is plenty of non-talent to send home.

The two for the dance-off with our comments from last night were:

1. Holly & Dmitry – Top Heavy Holly had a bit of problem getting her weight distribution right last week. She improved this week, but she is still a rather awkward dancer compared to the best in this group, especially when she has to break out of Dmitry’s grip. When he cannot guide her, she looks like a lost forest creature. And when she shakes, well, the upper body is completely out of control. Our advice, get a bra and practice more! (5/10)

2. Denise & Maks – the couple started off the slow slow…and dull…and we thought, no, please. Denise had no uinque and confident moves. She as playing follow the leader and the leader won. Denise is not our cup of tea. (4/10).

And nothing surprising happened. Denise still is not our cup of tea and was eliminated. Holly and Steve-O need to step up their game big time or they are next. Wozniak appears immune for the time being like Chloris was last season no matter how badly she danced.


3/23 Dancing With Stars Review, No Dance off Required.

Last week had to be one of the most dull dancing shows we had seen. Nothing grabbed us until we were falling all over ourselves to find a horizontal position on the sofa to doze off.

This week was much different. The very same dancers that put us into a complete slumber last week week, sparked our consistent attention this.

1. Denise & Maks – the couple started off the show slow…and dull…and we thought, no, please. Denise had no unique and confident moves. She as playing follow the leader and the leader won. Denise is not our cup of tea. (4/10).

julianne_chuckwick2. Chuck & Julianne – Chuck showed that perseverance and hard work and preparation can bring the dead back to life. He danced with Jullianne like he was leading the pro that trained him. Chuck did an excellent job. (8/10)

3. Holly & Dmitry – Top Heavy Holly had a bit of problem getting her weight distribution right last week. She improved this week, but she is still a rather awkward dancer compared to the best in this group, especially when she has to break out of Dmitry’s grip. When he cannot guide her, she looks like a lost forest creature. And when she shakes, well, the upper body is completely out of control. Our advice, get a bra and practice more! (5/10)

4. Stave-O & Lacey – What hurt about this dance was Steve-O had it going through the first 10 seconds and lost his way. It could have been fatigue or stage fright, but a dance that was flowing and regal in the first few seconds soon lost its way and indeed because the Jack-Ass dance. (5/10)

5. Lawrence & Edyta – Lawrence was so much less rigid and so in step this week we think e should get extra credit. We cannot be sure, but we think he practiced overtime for this week and it showed. He isn’t the best, but he was quite respectable. (7/10)

6. Shawn & Mark – Shawn still looks like a little girl when they do her cameo on the computer, but she looks like anything but on the dance floor. The dresses she wears are showing she is filling out and is no longer the slim gymnast we saw in Beijing. Her dance talent must spring from her gymnastic champion background, because she looks like an absolute pro and is an obvious finalist. (9/10)

7. Gilles & Cheryl – This is one couple that looks like either dancer could be the professional. Gille is confident up on stage, which leads to some He also has incredible chemistry with Cheryl. They are a perfect match on the floor complementing each other’s moves to perfection. They look like they are having fun where so many others look like they are working. That effortless appeal can only come from talent, practice and pleasure in what they are doing. They were great this week and are obvious finalists. (9/10)

kym_davidalangrier8. David and Kym – We believe Kym is the best instructor in the competition. It appears that no matter what dancer she is given, that dancer excels. We would have liked to see her get Steve Wozniak because it would be interesting to see if she could pull him from the abyss. But getting David to perform the way he did tonight is no small feat. Kudos to David too for his obvious hard work. He had to do some solo moves in this and, while not professional in appearance, they weren’t all that horrible, and that takes work. The rest of the dance was well choreographed and pleasant to watch. David was right on step with Kym all the way. An extra point for being so greatly improved this week. (8/10)

9. Steve & Karina – No Hope. Steve looks like a school girl when he dances, a school girl with about 200 pounds of blubber on him. He tries, but he has no clue what he is doing and no amount of practice can save him. Fortunately, he doesn’t need this gig because he is going home. (2/10)

10. Melissa & Tony – Melissa is in a crowd of stars, and isn’t really a star herself…yet. She has a stunning smile, a grace about her that shows in every dance step, and is always dressed to kill. It is obvious from her grace in tonights dance that she is in this to win. Her kicks are so high, we think kung fu movies a strong possibility. If she does win this competition, it could lead to instant stardom. (9/10)

11. Lil Kim & Derek – Kim is short and buxom, making it difficult for her to be as graceful as some of the taller dancers. She is sexy and aggressive on the floor and brings a ton of energy to her dances. She has no problem keeping step with Derek, but does occasionally look to him for support, like a bookmark in the dance to remember where she left off. Great hip action in the dance gave her top marks, but one stumble leading to a missed move near the end means we cannot put her in the top group. The judges missed it though and scored her better than we. (7/10)

chelsie_tymurray12. Ty and Chelsie – Chelsie is turning out to be a great trainer. When Ty started, he was awkward and stiff. He looked the part of a rodeo cowboy (or maybe clown) kind of hopping about and trying to stay on the bull. But Chelsie has proven her star quality and brought Ty along for the ride. He is so improved that we were shocked this week. The only mistake in the dance was Chelsie’s. She uncharacteristically slipped on the wooden floor, but Ty alertly caught her before she hit the floor and continued smoothly into the next twirl. We loved this and Ty gets extra credit all around. (8/10)

To sum it up, with lowest score first:

1. Steve & Karina (2/10)
2. Denise & Maks (4/10)
3. Steve-O & Lacey (5/10)
3. Holly & Dmitry (5/10)
4. Lil’ Kim & Derek (7/10)
5. Lawrence & Edyta (7/10)

6. Ty & Chelsie (8/10)
7. David & Kym (8/10)
8. Chuck & Julianne (8/10)

9. Shawn & Mark (9/10)
10. Melissa & Tony (9/10)
11. Gilles & Cheryl (9/10)

There you have it. Steve W is way way out of his league. They shouldn’t even bother with a dance off. Just send the guy home.

3/17 Dancing With The Stars Results, Go-Go-Gone

We are not sure if it is this year’s performers, that the show is not aging well or if we miss Chloris Leachman, but however you cut it, last night put us in snooze mode.  At least one of us found ourselves in dreamland before the show was over.

We couldn’t even do a recap on that show. But here it is in a 2 minute clip, without the 2-hour cumbersome huhumm…

What do you do if you have a show that puts your audience to sleep??  Take the worst possible performers and have them do it again in a dance-off.  Great idea!!  ZZZZZZ.

It came down to Steve Wozniak versus Belinda Carlisle in a dance off. As we watched, we were begging for Cloris Leachman, these two are so bad.

Belinda was awful and just has no grace when dancing ballroom, which is surprising considering her past in the Go-Go’s.  This week, we are sorry to say she is a Go Go Goner.  Wozniak lives for another week, but there is little doubt he will be gone next week.

Our favorites are Melissa & Tony, Gilles & Cheryl, and Shawn and Mark who come across as more than half professional.  These are likley to be the top 3 couples, and don’t see anyone catching them.