"In October 2014, a tabloid newspaper article reported that I'd likely had surgery to alter my eyes," she writes. "It didn't matter; just one more story in the massive smut pile generated every day by the tabloid press and fueled by exploitative headlines and folks who practice cowardly cruelty from their anonymous internet pulpits."
Zellweger is referring to the 2014 ELLE's 21st Annual Women in Hollywood Celebration, where she was deemed "unrecognizable" on the red carpet. She also calls out a recent column by Variety writer Owen Gleiberman, titled, "Renee Zellweger: If She No Longer Looks Like Herself, Has She Become a Different Actress?"
"Not that it's anyone's business, but I did not make a decision to alter my face and have surgery on my eyes," Zellweger explains. "This fact is of no true import to anyone at all, but that the possibility alone was discussed among respected journalists and became a public conversation is a disconcerting illustration of news/entertainment confusion and society's fixation on physicality."
The 47-year-old actress says that refuting those rumors is not why she is writing the piece -- she calls the reports "silly entertainment" -- but instead wants to speak to tabloid culture at large, which she says can lead to having "the narrative of one's life hijacked by those who profiteer from invented scandal."
"I’m writing because to be fair to myself, I must make some claim on the truths of my life, and because witnessing the transmutation of tabloid fodder from speculation to truth is deeply troubling," she pens. "The 'eye surgery' tabloid story itself did not matter, but it became the catalyst for my inclusion in subsequent legitimate news stories about self-acceptance and women succumbing to social pressure to look and age a certain way."
Zellweger also discusses how "snark entertainment" contributes to the problematic double standard that is used to "diminish" women within society. She writes:
"Too skinny, too fat, showing age, better as a brunette, cellulite thighs, facelift scandal, going bald, fat belly or bump? Ugly shoes, ugly feet, ugly smile, ugly hands, ugly dress, ugly laugh; headline material which emphasizes the implied variables meant to determine a person’s worth, and serve as parameters around a very narrow suggested margin within which every one of us must exist in order to be considered socially acceptable and professionally valuable, and to avoid painful ridicule."
"Ubiquitous online and news source repetition of humiliating tabloid stories, mean-spirited judgments and false information is not harmless," she concludes, pointing towards issues of equality, bullying, and self-acceptance. "Maybe we could talk more about our many true societal challenges and how we can do better."
When Zellweger previously spoke out about plastic surgery rumors, she said, "I'm glad folks think I look different! I'm living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows." Hear more in the video below.