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The Zellweger effect: is she trying to erase her Norwegian roots?

By Tone Bergheim Dec 5, 2014
Renee Zellweger's new face

The Daily Mail ran a story on their website regarding the recent changes in Renee Zellweger’s appearance that have been the latest gossip surrounding the celebrity world. She appears to have made some drastic changes to her face and features and people are now left with a single question; why?

A professor of Finnish Culture at Oulu University in Finland, Edward Dutton, has made the assumption that the actress made these changes in an attempt to eliminate some of the key features that can be traced back to her Sami-Norwegian heritage in an attempt to look more “traditional European.”

I am not of Sami heritage myself – in fact, very few Norwegians are. But based on the current perspective the world seems to have on this story and topic, I find myself thinking about and questioning the way we look at ourselves.

Is today’s society putting such a pressure on the certain features that are considered more beautiful, that people are willing to change their roots, heritage and ethnicity to achieve them? Have we created such a disturbed image of “the perfect person” in our minds that we can no longer see the beauty in a multi varied community?

I have several of the features that most people think of as “typical Norwegian”: I am blonde, have large green eyes, high cheek-bones and possess several personal qualities such as being loud, open-minded and translate my opinions in a very American accent. I am sure that if you ask someone here at KU what qualities and features a typical Norwegian has, some of the above will come up. As well as possessing some of the typical features, there are several I do not have: I am far from tall, have crooked teeth and was not born with skis on my feet. But does that make me less worthy of the title “a true Norwegian”?

I think most Norwegians that you will have an interaction with, will be proud of their heritage and will gladly tell you about the brown cheese, knitted jumpers and the acres of mountains, fjords and forest that make that famous picture painted version of a harmonic place we call our home. And I believe that this is because the global view on the Norwegian or Scandinavian stereotype is a beautiful country with beautiful people.

As this may be -I have yet to meet someone, in my 22-years on this planet, who is completely at peace with their body and would not change a single thing if money was not a problem. Everyone has something they do not like about themselves and that is the way it has always been. But in today’s society the access to information on procedures and pictures of the ideal body are taking over the World Wide Web. Girls as young as 12 are starting to look at their bodies and pointing out things they are going to change when they grow up. The access to plastic surgery is only a click away and the pressure is growing more and more everyday.

It seems to me that society sometimes forget that celebrities are people as well, and just because they have chosen a life in the spot light, does not mean that their every flaw should be pointed out on every given opportunity. They are turned into some celestial being, unnatural, unhuman – the ultimate goal, which cannot be hurt by our comments or fall into social pressure because they are the norm. People can wonder as much as they want about the hidden agenda behind Zellweger’s procedures, but the truth is, she is the only person who truly knows why she did it.

I am a proud and loud Norwegian, but I am also proud of the imperfections that make me stand out from the stereotype. An imperfection is the master key to what creates a perfect person in my opinion. We are all different on the inside, we have different opinions, nationalities, sexualities and experiences that moulds us as human beings. However, we all thrive to fit the mould of the ideal exterior. Dare to be different, dare to welcome imperfections and allow yourself to love the way you look, embrace the things that make you unique.

There is a famous quote by Marilyn Monroe that states: “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than boring.”

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