Renee Zellweger’s markedly altered facial features have engaged and baffled the public since her recent appearance at the 21st annual Elle Women in Hollywood Awards earlier this month. Besides her competent acting talent, the Oscar winner is known for her sweet, unique beauty; yet many people have expressed a sense of loss over the natural look of the actress whom they’ve come to appreciate through her memorable roles throughout the years. Another common thread in the public comments is a concern that she may have or likely felt the need to conform to a Hollywood aesthetic–unfortunately to the point of becoming unrecognizable to many of her fans. Indeed, media outlets are abuzz with speculation that she’s undergone some kind of plastic surgery to modify her distinctive eyes and jawline.

In response, Zellweger released a statement to People saying, “I’m glad folks think I look different! I’m living a different life, and I’m thrilled that perhaps it shows.” The 45-year-old actress described the chatter about her appearance as “silly,” saying people are searching for “some nefarious truth which doesn’t exist.” She referred to her absence from red carpets over the past five years, saying, “People don’t know me in my 40’s. People don’t know me [as] healthy for a while. Perhaps I look different. Who doesn’t as they get older?! Ha. But I am different. I’m happy.” Renee has been enjoying a slower-paced life in recent years “finally growing” into herself with activities at home which emphasize relaxing, learning, being creative, and enjoying time with her boyfriend Doyle Bramhall. In other words, Zellweger seems to be saying the change in her appearance can be attributed solely to a healthy lifestyle in addition to the normal aging process. While some believe her, much of the public’s conversations have continued for days; they doubt her honesty in the matter even though pretty much everyone agrees she still looks beautiful and they’re glad to know she’s doing well in her personal life. There’s also a consensus that she has the right to do whatever she wants to with her face. Still, there’s an awful lot of talk about the subject of one person’s appearance. (And ironically, the Bridget Jones actress is currently filming a new movie entitled Same Kind Of Different As Me.)

They say, “Any publicity is good publicity.” Well, if you are fortunate enough to get in the Hollywood spotlight chances are articles will be written about the effects of time on your face and physique. And while every actor is entitled to the privacy and privilege of making their own decisions regarding whether to get plastic surgery or to age more naturally, it’s fair to assume that the public will have something to say about it because, for one reason or another, they are invested in you–and unfortunately, what they say is not always kind. 46-year-old Julia Roberts, who’s been named ambassador for Lancome recently, has been receiving positive press however for her determination to age without plastic surgery. “By Hollywood standards, I guess I’ve already taken a big risk in not having had a face-lift. But I’ve told Lancome that I want to be an aging model–so they have to keep me for at least five more years until I’m over 50,” Roberts said. Julia, however, is in the coveted category of actors that seem to defy the effects of gravity like Halley Berry, Johnny Depp, Jennifer Anisten, Gabrielle Union, Colin Firth, Paul Rudd, and Angelina Jolie.  

Have you given thought as to how you will choose to age in an industry that often rewards the youthful in appearance? If you choose to allow nature to take its course, you may lose out on roles due to sagging eyelids, wrinkles, or loose skin on your neck–you know, the effects of normal aging. But fortunately a healthy lifestyle will minimize any of these changes. At your disposal are any number of youth-promoting products in addition to good old-fashioned exercise, healthy eating, and beauty rest.

On the other hand, if you go the plastic surgery route to combat the inevitable signs of aging, you can pretty much count on being called out by the press at one point or another. And you can decide if you think it’s anyone’s business to share your medical and personal beauty secrets with the public. But plastic surgery doesn’t always go as planned, and you run the risk of being publicly ridiculed for appearing fake or having a shallow or vain personal quality. Of course, there are those who are showered with compliments, and are the envy of Tinseltown when all goes well.

Whatever style of aging you choose is best for you, what’s most important is keeping a positive attitude about aging or surgery. And, indeed, this is definitely something that is helping Renee Zellweger at this time. She is maintaining an upbeat attitude as she shares some selective information about this personal transition in her life.

And keep in mind the words of wisdom from Eleanor Roosevelt:

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.”

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right–for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”