Meg Ryan’s face was the most talked-about part of the Tony Awards.

Meg Ryan

It’s been labelled “shocking”. Some are claiming it made them gasp. Others are “horrified”.

No, I’m not talking about any of the tragic events that unfolded over the weekend. I’m talking about Meg Ryan’s face.

The 54-year-old actress introduced a performance by the cast of She Loves Me at the Tony Awards yesterday. It was a small bit, and Ryan chose to avoid the pre-event red carpet altogether.

Meg Ryan

Ryan at the Tony Awards yesterday. Image: Getty

Perhaps she knew what was coming.

Almost immediately after she took to the stage, Twitter began spewing out vitriol aimed at Ryan and her “unrecognisable” face.

One user even compared her to Batman’s The Joker. Cruel doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Did Meg Ryan look different? Yes, she did. But that’s beside the point.

Watching the crumbs of commentary on Ryan’s taut, shiny skin roll on and on had me shaking my head, but you can be sure the actress didn’t give two shits about it.

In fact, she’s previously spoken about her ambivalence to the has-she-or-hasn’t-she plastic surgery speculation surrounding her looks.

Ryan last night (L) and in 2010 (R). Image: Getty

“I don’t pay a lot of attention to it, frankly. There’s a lot of hatred in the world today, it’s so easy to judge,” she told Porter magazine last year.

“Imagine being a hater, how stupid! My women friends are not sitting around talking about… well, sometimes there are conversations like that, but the people I value talk about kids growing up, what kind of world they are going into, what we are eating, what we are breathing.”

The jabs might not be affecting Ryan, but they’re indicative of the sad fact that a woman’s clothing, accessories, hair, makeup, shoes and skin is always up for public scrutiny.

That a woman’s very worth is tied up in the quality of her frock, or her plastic surgeon. That achievements and successes do not free a woman from the one thing that is seen as most valuable - her looks. (Post continues after gallery.)

We see it time and time again. Last year Uma Thurman turned up at The Snap premiere with a different makeup look, leading many to accuse her of plastic surgery.

“I guess nobody liked my makeup," she said wryly on the Today show in the US.

Renee Zellweger similarly encountered a barrage of criticism in 2014 at the Elle Women In Hollywood Awards event, when her face looked different.

She told People magazine at the time: “It seems the folks who come digging around for some nefarious truth which doesn’t exist won’t get off my porch until I answer the door. People don’t know me in my 40s… Perhaps I look different. Who doesn’t as they get older?! Ha. But I am different. I’m happy,” she said.

Let’s make this clear: What Meg Ryan, Uma Thurman, Renee Zellweger or any other woman chooses to do with her face is her business.

This “gotcha!” culture, where we pounce upon any woman who seems to have dared to not age gracefully, is just perpetuating the bigger problem at hand: our never-ending obsession with beauty and youth. (Post continues after video.)

Is it any wonder celebrities in their 40s, 50s and 60s are taking to the red rug with faces that look tweaked, taut and, well, different? Is it really that “shocking”?

Ryan works in an industry where from the age of 30 women have to compete for the scraps, the minor roles with titles like “mother” or “grandmother” thrown in front of them. Where women in their early 20s eagerly work to snap up the meatier roles before the first talon of a crow’s foot etches itself on her face.

Surely it comes as no surprise to anyone that to continue working, to continue staying relevant, Ryan may have felt the need to tweak a little something here, jab a little something there?

Yes, Meg Ryan looked different - are you really surprised?

Image: Getty.

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