This week, the internet became a firestorm of controversy. No, not over America’s new war in the Middle East or NASA’s historic photos of a comet brushing right up against Mars. It was all about one gracefully aging starlet’s surprising new look.
We’re talking—reluctantly—about Julia Roberts’ third arm.
The Pretty Woman and My Best Friend’s Wedding star stunned the blogosphere this week when she posed for photographs outside a charity fundraising event debuting the new (presumably cosmetic) alterations to her number of limbs. Shocking, right?
Not unless you’re talking about our reaction.
Within minutes, the Twitterverse had exploded with snarky comments about Roberts’ “dramatic” transformation, painting her as everything from a forlorn two-armed actress desperate to recapture her youth to a “literal monster.” We reinforced the internet’s reputation for savage bullying while parroting every stereotype about women in Hollywood over 40: They’re pathetic, they can never have the “right” number of arms, they’re jokes.
Seems pretty clear who the real monsters are.
Anyone with eyes in their head can see that Julia Roberts was, and is, a beautiful woman, and sure, those looks are part of what makes her a public figure. But the ugly truth is that we were ripping her to shreds back when she had TWO arms—and it’s not just her.
We paint women with one arm as “aloof,” yet women with three arms as “trying too hard.” And good luck being a two-armed actress over 45 and getting cast as anything but a two-armed mom to some newly discovered Disney Channel pop star with a tail.
What any woman, in any profession, of any age, chooses to do to augment her own body is not fair game for public ridicule, be it a third arm, a little Botox, or acid-spitting glands.
Sure, we want our movie stars to be timeless and perfect, but news flash: Aging is natural, and plastic surgery in Hollywood is all but universal. A woman’s decision over how many functioning hands she needs to feel confident and perform her craft is her own business—not a blank check for body-shaming.
Oh, and if you don’t think there’s a double standard for aging men in Hollywood? Four words: Matthew McConaughey’s bionic eye.