Tim Cusack: Blog Entry

Renée Zellweger and Dysmorphia

old young face side by side

Last week if someone had said to you, “Go into a room of a hundred people and find Renée Zellweger.”  Could you do it?  I’m not sure I could.  The first thought I had when I saw Renée’s new look was, “That’s not her….is it?”  Then I thought, “Will she act differently?  Talk differently?  Be less pouty?”  The biggest question is why?  A personal crisis, something to do?  Or is it about holding on to youth and beauty?

These thoughts were caused by dysmorphia, a deformity or abnormality in the shape or size of a specific part of the body.  In this case her face.

What freaks me out (just a little) is knowing that her old face is still behind the new one.  Full disclosure:  I’ve fantasized about how I would change my face – nose job, eye lift and a little lip enlargement, costing roughly $30,000 worth.  I could easily change my face by driving a new car worth that much!  It would be much less painful and a lot faster, and folks could recognize ‘Tim’ driving that new car.

According to Nancy Etcoff, an evolutionary psychologist at Harvard and author of “Survival of the Prettiest,” our faces are tightly packed with important biological information.  She reports that “we are face virtuosos.  We can discern one face from thousands, even millions of other faces.”

Our relationship with others is held in the individual’s face.  Our faces communicate our tribe, our emotions, our moods, our essences.  If my wife changed her face as much as Zellweger did, I would feel like I was having an affair at first.  Eventually I would want back the person I married.  A little fixing here and there is cool – as long as I can recognize the face in a room of strangers.

“If age is denied, soul becomes lost in an inappropriate clinging to youth.” Thomas Moore