By: Mary Fran Bontempo
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Mark Cornelison, Lexington Herald-Leader / MCT / 4/2/12

I have always had a crush on Ashley Judd.

Yeah, yeah. I’ve been married for 30 years now, three kids and all that heterosexual stuff. But we’re talking Ashley Judd here. Can you blame me?

The woman is gorgeous, a kick-ass actress (literally–have you seen her new show, Missing?), Harvard educated and now, a champion for women, girls and the entire human race as she takes on the crushing cultural standards that determine our worth based purely on physical appearance.

Seems a number of our esteemed media took Judd to task recently for appearing–prepare to be horrified–“puffy” in photos taken with her husband while they attended a basketball game.

First, are you kidding me? I should look so bad. And I daresay that every person with the nerve to criticize the woman likely looks worse on their best day than she does scrubbing the bathroom, not that she scrubs her own bathroom. I’m just saying.

For her part, Judd, who admits to routinely ignoring everything written about her, good or bad, has made an exception this time, responding with an intelligent missive decrying the lunacy of any standard that damns a person for daring to, God forbid, age or look anything less than perfect.  

“Why was a puffy face cause for such a conversation in the first place? How, and why, did people participate? If not in the conversation about me, in parallel ones about women in your sphere? What is the gloating about? What is the condemnation about? What is the self-righteous alleged ‘all knowing’ stance of the media about? How does this symbolize constraints on girls and women, and encroach on our right to be simply as we are, at any given moment?”

And there’s the rub. For women, being “simply as we are” is rarely good enough for the world at large. We’re supposed to spackle and paint ourselves into a presentable state daily, after recognizing that our natural state is, of course, unacceptable.

The results often don’t satisfy–witness the billion dollar cosmetics industry, as we continue to search for solutions to our “problems.” Yet, should we resort to more permanent fixes, we are likewise shamed by a society that seems unable to forgive us for being human, for being ourselves.

As Judd also sadly notes, those jumping most immediately on the “What did she do to herself?” bandwagon are women themselves, eager to bash another of their gender in a demented attempt to feel better about themselves.

Really? What are we doing, ladies? What are we teaching our daughters? Haven’t we learned, via Marcia Brady, that just because a gal is having a bad nose day, that’s no reason she should be ostracized and ditched by her date for the dance? When did puffy become a crime against humanity? I wake up every morning with enough fluid in my face to irrigate the garden. So what? And frankly, if Ashley Judd isn’t good enough to pass muster, where does that leave the rest of us?

Well, I’m sticking with my girl-crush, Ashley. I love her. I love her puffy face. I love her t-shirt and messy hair. I love the fact that she’s so smart I can’t understand half of what she says in her indictment of the media. But most of all, I love that were I to meet her on the street she would like me, or not, based on who I am, not on what I look like.

And that’s a beautiful thing.

What’s your take on the Ashley Judd controversy? Click “comments” below and share!

Article first published as Ashley Judd–Gloriously Puffing Away on Technorati.