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I haven’t thought much about Ashley Judd in my life. I’ve probably used more brain cells wondering what I’ll have for dinner in an average week. However, I know who she is because I have access to TV and the Internet and I don’t live under a rock, as I’ve previously mentioned.

Anyways, I had noticed that in previews for her new show she looked a bit different. I chalked it up to age and didn’t think more about it. I certainly didn’t ponder why she looked different. Our whole society has a problem with nitpicking flaws and making any woman’s self-esteem plummet seconds after flipping through a popular magazine. I really didn’t think it was my place to debate the what-ifs of her facial structure, and I have dinner to make. This vegan challenge is time consuming!

Well Ashley’s friends pointed out what the naysayers were nay-sayin. And it was ugly! It was harsh and misogynistic and ageist and inappropriate and hurtful. Ashley Judd responded with a rip-roaring polite fuck-you to her critics and to all the men and women who patriciate in shaming people based on physical features. Who knew she was so intelligent and graceful and could write such a searing, feminist essay? I know now.

That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient. Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.

Read the rest here.