The thing no-one is prepared to say about Meg Ryan's face.

I’m calling it.

Meg Ryan got up on stage at the 70th Annual Tony Awards last weekend and instead of talking about the black actors who made history by winning all four musical acting categories, all anyone wanted to talk about was her face.

Ryan, who in her heyday was the perennial girl next door who bumbled through romantic comedies looking cute in oversized T-shirts and socks – had undergone something of a transformation.

With an enhanced pout and suspiciously smooth brow, she looked very little like the Meg Ryan we had come to love.

Listen to Mia Freedman, Kate de Brito and Monique Bowley discuss Meg Ryan’s transformation. Post continues…

Social media lit up with commentary and criticism of Ryan’s new look, just as it had in the past when other actresses were suspected of dabbling with cosmetic procedures. Uma Thurman. Courtney Cox. Kim Novak.

People said she had taken things “too far”. Some likened her to The Joker. Some simply lamented the loss of her wholesome good looks.

And then, inevitably, others fired back, defending Ryan’s right to do anything she wished with her face.

Part of me wanted to agree. Meg Ryan is her own person. Of course she is. She can do whatever the hell she wants to her face and body.

But still, I can’t help feeling sad.

Not just for Meg, but for all women – for all of us who live in a society that tells us we need to look a certain way to be worthwhile.

Meg Ryan
Meg Ryan at the Tony Awards this week. (Image: Getty) 

It makes me hope for a time when we will look back and shudder about this period in our history when women butchered their faces and bodies in the name of beauty.

I know it's not a popular opinion. Cosmetic surgery is supposed to be about women empowering themselves. But I don't buy it.

I'm not trying to judge. I'm really not. I'm not even saying I wouldn't ever do the same. But I hope I won't.

I hope that when the itch really kicks in to get a nip or a tuck or an injection of fillers that I will be able to hold up against the pressure in society. I hope the awareness that I am not really doing it for myself will hold me back - that I am really doing it to impress a society that insists a woman's worth is tied to her beauty and her youth.

I understand women wanting to look more beautiful. I put on make-up every day. I try to look good. Why would I do that if I didn't buy in to the beauty myth?

But make-up is surely one thing. Surgery and butchering faces and bodies is another.

Watch the full clip of the Mamamia Out Loud team discussing plastic surgery below. Post continues...


I know we like to imagine women undergo these procedures of their own free will. And of course no one is physically forcing them under the knife. But the pressure for women to stay youthful, thin and beautiful is intense in modern society. Even more so for women such as Meg Ryan.

We applaud them when they first get their work done - approving of how they have "maintained their youth". But then, as the fillers start to add up or the latest face-lift goes subtly awry, we mock them.

Not too fat. Not too thin. A little bit of surgery, but not too much. Be good looking but don't be stupid enough to keep having surgery once it all falls apart. Look good for as long as you can and then get the hell out of the spotlight before we take you down as an absurd caricature of what you once were.

I don't want to call out individual women for having plastic surgery. This is not about a witch hunt. This it not about making women "own up" to their surgery.

But at some stage we have to call ourselves out. We can't just look the other way and pretend this is about liberation and empowerment. We have to recognise we are enslaving women by making them feel they are not beautiful enough or worthy enough without having a procedure on their face, or their boobs or their thighs or their bum...

We need to stop pretending it is not a feminist issue, when it is.

Right: Meg Ryan this week; Left: Meg Ryan in 2010. (Images: Getty)

Meg Ryan's face is a product of a society that makes women feel their worth is only tied up in their looks. I'm not mocking her for that. But I am sad.

When as a society we measure of women's worth almost solely around her beauty and youth and corral her towards surgery to meet those expectations we can't pretend it is her choice.

I think it is our business to question that in the same way we question other gender issues.

I hope there will come a time when we will become more enlightened and see beyond the way women -and men - look to see their true worth.

I hope when that times comes, we will see plastic and cosmetic surgery as an antiquated blip in history, a cautionary tale from a less enlightened time and we will shiver a little at what we allowed women to do to themselves in the name of beauty.

Do you agree that plastic surgery is a feminist issue? 

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