There is no question that women in today’s society are held to a high standard of beauty and sex appeal, even as they age. We say that men become ‘distinguished’ looking as their hair grays. We overlook their spreading waistlines and wrinkles around their eyes.

Yet we expect women to appear youthful even as they race toward mid-century and beyond.

And the young girls aren’t getting to enjoy their childhood either. They are racing into adulthood before they hit puberty with their manner of dress and heavily made up faces.

This is what I believe Ashley Judd was referring to recently when she replied to media criticism of her ‘puffy’ face – blaming our ‘objectification of women’ for the obsession with how women look in today’s society.

But is this a fair complaint when it is aimed at the source that helped launch her career in the first place? Where was the outrage when media headlines were touting her beauty and glamour? Is it right to accept the accolades until they cease and then turn against the people who presented them and the standard they represented when you no longer qualify for them?

I think Ashley Judd is a talented actress and activist. She is smart and articulate. And she is aging – as all of us do. I think her attack against the media for pointing it out was out of line though, given her acceptance of media headlines in the past that were favorable.

You just can’t have it both ways.

Writers know this. We know if you believe all of the good critiques of your work you are equally susceptible to the ravages of the bad. So we write what pleases us and then let the chips fall where they may.

Ashley should just focus on her work, give us performances that speak for themselves, go about her life in a way that isn’t punctuated with her appearance, and the media will have no choice but to respect her work over the shape of her face.

But that doesn’t solve the problem with the objectification of women. Only we as a society can change that. And we can take our cues from the women we admire who never tried to use their looks to improve their careers – Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Gloria Steinhem, Barbara Bush, Nora Roberts, J.K. Rowling, Oprah – to name a few.

Who do you admire for their body of work over their physical body or outward appearance?

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