Poor Meg Ryan. The other week, she did her hair, put on some lipstick, and went to a party. As a result, the internet blew up. Twitter went crazy with snarky comments about her appearance, and now there are lots of articles shouting, "What happened to Meg Ryan?"
People, really. Is this the best we can do? See... hours before Ms. Ryan destroyed Twitter simply by smiling, 49 people were shot to death at a nightclub. Human beings suffered and died because of yet another act of terrorism on American soil, and our best response at the time seemed to be commenting about someone's face, simply because the face in question didn't look the way we wanted it to.
Poor Meg Ryan. The other night, she did her hair, put on some lipstick, and went to a party. As a result, the internet blew up.
Are you kidding me, 'Murica? I find three things madly objectionable about this entire situation, and I'm rolling up my sleeves, so get ready.
1. Meg Ryan's Face Is None Of Our Business.
Just like anybody else's face is none of our business. Especially in our current "do anything you like" culture, where we're told that people are allowed to pierce themselves, tattoo themselves, and otherwise modify themselves however they'd like. And it's all cool. (You know -- self-expression and all that). So a kid can wear jeans that drag on the ground (so I can even see his underwear), and it's okay. I'm supposed to accept it. A young woman can dye her hair green, ram a piece of metal through her lip, and it's okay. I'm supposed to accept it. Ms. Ryan might have worked up the nerve to see a medical professional for some help against gravity (although she says she hasn't, so whatever) and all of a sudden, it's the end of the world. Suddenly, everyone is allowed to bully her.
That's wrong. We're not allowed to bully Meg Ryan just because she is a famous woman who is getting older any more than we are allowed to bully anyone else.
Online bullying is something everyone gets crazy about when you're talking about high schoolers, but it seems to be okay when you're talking about celebrities just going through life. But it's not. Bullying is bullying. I don't care your age, orientation, gender, whether you have droopy pants and green hair -- whatever. That famous person you're shredding online is still a human being, with deep value and genuine emotions. Sitting anonymously behind a computer screen in your underpants with chips and a beverage doesn't give you the right to tear anyone else's self-image down, simply because you think you're being funny. You're not. You're being a harmful cyberbully, and you must stop.
Online bullying is something everyone gets crazy about when you're talking about high schoolers, but it seems to be okay when you're talking about celebrities just going through life.
This is probably a good time to bring up Carrie Fisher, isn't it? She had the nerve to age, too. When the last Star Wars movie came out, she also blew up the internet, and her haters pulled out bikini shots that were decades old from her first appearance as Princess Leia. This leads me to point two.
2. Just Because Meg Ryan Is A Woman Doesn't Mean She Can't Age Like The Rest Of Us.
Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher and many other female celebrities magnify for us one of the double standards we not-famous women also have to wrestle with: women are penalized for the aging process. As we age, we find it harder to land jobs, while our male counterparts are not only recruited but paid more as a reward for their "experience." We have entire segments of the beauty industry dedicated to deny our aging process, while men are told they are becoming more "rugged."
The standard understanding is that women are replaced with "trophy wives" as part of a man's midlife crisis, because our sex appeal has gone away, not because he's flaking out on a commitment he made years ago when our body parts were still perky. Listen here, Sparky -- all of this is insulting. What this does is give a women a shelf life as a valuable human being because she is suddenly being defined, essentially, by her skin. Whether it sags, whether it wrinkles, whether it's bumpy with the stretch marks she earned by creating another human being -- we as women get to a point where we are essentially defined simply by the appearance of our skin.
Ummmm... I thought you weren't allowed to do that, right? I thought we're not supposed to define someone by the appearance of their skin?
A woman's skin, whether it's droopy, wrinkled or dewy fresh as a newborn, simply encases the magic, the beauty and power of the individual woman living and breathing inside of it. Whether she has had a career, raised a family, or a combination of the two, the older woman you see has made an incredible impact upon the world, and defining her by crow's feet or laugh lines is terrible.
A woman's skin, whether it's droopy, wrinkled or dewy fresh as a newborn, simply encases the magic, the beauty and power of the individual woman living and breathing inside of it.
If a woman (any woman, not just Meg Ryan) chooses to do anything with her skin, that's her business. She can put cream into it, she can prevent it from tanning, she can see a medical professional and have it lifted -- it's her skin. Ideally, she will do these things because she wants to, not because our culture tells her she must. Which is where the bullying comes back in. Women are held to higher beauty standards by both genders, and I'm saying we should know better. There's so much more that we should focus on in the world than someone's skin and whether it's wrinkled or not. Which leads me to point three.
3. Why Were You Worried About Meg Ryan's Face While People Were Dying?
No lie. As Meg Ryan's face was taking over Twitter, 49 members of the LGBT community were being slaughtered in an Orlando night club. Lemme say that again: people were dying from what has now been determined to be a domestic terror attack, and the biggest thing we could talk about at the time was Meg Ryan's lips.
AND it wasn't just the standard internet haters who regularly complain about everything who were commenting that night. I actually saw a comment that said "I gay-gasped" in reference to Ms. Ryan's face. Huh? This young fellow is part of the community being slaughtered while he typed, but he was more horrified by Meg Ryan's appearance than by the shooting? Seriously. This is messed up.
People were dying from what has now been determined to be a domestic terror attack, and the biggest thing we could talk about at the time was Meg Ryan's lips.
Listen,'Murica -- we must refocus on the things that matter.
We must buckle down as a nation and figure things out. We are currently in the middle of a presidential election that gives me complete gastric distress and is the laughingstock of the world. We currently seem to be more interested in someone's face than in human lives, and we currently seem to be more distracted by crap than we are in figuring out the substantial parts of being a decent human being.
I have never met Meg Ryan, so I can't speak for her, but if I were in her shoes, I'd not only be angry about the unnecessary bullying, I'd be seriously PO'd that it was taking over the seriousness of what happened in Orlando.
So What's The Answer?
Same things as I always say. Operate out of a place of kindness -- and show it to all people. Whatever a person looks like is just that -- what the person looks like. Someone's looks do not define their soul, their spirit or their intention. The biggest, scariest guy you could ever see may have a truly tender heart, and the dainty young lady you see could have a personality made of ice.
It's the inside of a person that matters -- not the outside. A person who is aging has the same value as a person who is still young. A person who is female has the same value as the person who is male. A person who is famous has the same value as the person who is not. What matters is the inside, Friend.
So stop being bullies and start paying attention to the important stuff. Start trying to make your mama proud (because she already taught you all of this -- I know she did) instead of trying to be funny online. Start trying to be kind, instead of getting "like" notifications from people you will never, ever meet.
This stuff matters, Friend.
It really matters. So please figure it out, okay?
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Chanler Jeffers has seen many extraordinary things over her lifetime. An adventurer, survivor, overachiever and advocate of kindness in all instances, she has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), and is a member of their Circle of Champions. She has had the good fortune to live and travel all over the world, grew up as a military dependent and was a single parent for many years. She has survived cancer, and gently shaped countless people over her years on this little planet we call home. Follow along as she shares her knowledge, her experience and her love. Oh, by the way–one more thing. She’s married to a Bass playing rock star, lucky girl.