Claire Black’s Week: Renee Zellweger | DIY jobs

Renee Zellweger denies cosmetic surgery altered her looks. Picture: Getty
Renee Zellweger denies cosmetic surgery altered her looks. Picture: Getty
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Everyone’s big pants in a knot over what they did to Bridget, writes Claire Black.

I’ve always liked Renee Zellweger (actually I was never that keen on the way that she appeared as though, as a friend of mine put it, she had suddenly discovered she had boobs on her back when being photographed on the red carpet. Weird. But she was funny).

I enjoyed her in Jerry Maguire and in Bridget Jones. I liked her lack of vanity – she was resolutely ordinary in the former and wore Bridget’s big pants ever so well, even though the character made me want to take a flame-thrower to Playboy bunny ears. Her shtick was similar in Cold Mountain and even Chicago – almost ordinary. I offer this in part explanation of why everyone’s got their big knickers in a knot about her face.

When Cher or Madonna or Nicole Kidman, or plenty of others, appear looking plumped and smoothed, tautened and tweaked – as Zellweger did last week in Los Angeles – barely an eye is batted, and not because of botox paralysis. It’s as though the fact those women are surgically altering their faces fits with who we think they are – rich, vain celebrities doing whatever it takes to stop ageing.

We thought Zellweger was different. Less conventionally beautiful – chipmunk cheeks, eyes that disappeared when she smiled. Conventional by Hollywood standards that is. But what every single one of these women – and the millions who go under the knife or needle every year – illustrates is that it is simply becoming impossible for women to age, especially if in the public eye. It’s just not allowed. They are pilloried for looking older. They are pilloried for looking like pillow faces. It’s a lose-lose situation. And the only thing I can think of that will stop it is to speak openly and honestly about it.

So why isn’t it more straightforward to talk about Zellweger? It’s not because I so disapprove of what she’s done to her kisser that I can’t find the words. I don’t find it difficult to say I hate that plastic surgery is making ever-younger, beautiful women look like slightly wrong clones.

What’s complicated is weighing in on this without joining the queue of “haterz” who have pored over Zellweger’s face like vultures eyeing up a carcass. So loud has been the clamour of disapproval, she issued a statement denying she’d had surgery. Literally adding insult to injury.

But to say nothing about her changed appearance seems even less comfortable. Her face is very different. She says it’s because she’s healthy and happy and at peace. I’m really glad if that’s true. It’s just that allowing someone to cut open and rearrange your face doesn’t really imply contentment. And there’s the bind.

But how about rather than shaming Zellweger, we all try to shame the multi-billion-pound industries that exist solely to profit from people’s insecurities about their bodies and ageing? And how about we shame Hollywood for routinely chucking women over 40 onto the scrapheap as though they’re simply too hideous to be seen?

Obviously, these targets are harder to pin down than the woman standing boldly on the red carpet, but we could try.

DIY skills down the plughole

I CAN’T be the only person who upon spotting an exposed pipe or bad grouting imagines a neat bit of boxing-in or a smooth finish, can I?

OK, seriously, I’m asking, am I the only one who fantasises about a well-painted cornice or a neatly fitted vinyl floor tile? I suspect, if figures from Homebase are anything to go by, I just might be.

The DIY chain is closing a quarter of its stores by February 2018 with the loss of 2,000 jobs. In part, the chain’s owner blamed its decline on “the rise of a generation less skilled in DIY projects”.

This is a national tragedy. It’s not that there are so many fewer home decorating shows on the telly than ten years ago – who could bemoan not having to watch Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen emulsioning an MDF headboard thrice weekly?

But knowing how to put up a shelf or tile, how to replace the silicon round the bath or hang wallpaper is not about having access to occasionally useful skills. They’re life essentials. I mean it. I have about 5 per cent of the DIY know-how my dad had and I regret it. Yes, I know you can just pay someone to do this stuff, but where is the satisfaction in that? And, more to the point, who’s got the money?

Dooks and hazards

Spook! It’s Halloween. As a fan of sweeties and pumpkin all year round, and with a child too young to understand any of it, this is a celebration of limited appeal to me.

It is further losing its charm since it got all sexed up. For women, of course. It’s still fun for men and boys. And it’s reached a new nadir when you read a little girl was given the “best boy’s” fancy-dress prize because she dressed as a skeleton. I guess to bag the best girl’s prize she’d have to have been a “sexy” Little Red Riding Hood.

Get a grip. Retailers will always sell this guff, but we don’t have to buy it. That so many do is enough to make me want to dook myself to death.