Entertainment And News

Anyone Calling Meg Ryan's 'New' Face 'Unrecognizable' Needs To Take A Look At Themselves First

Photo: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock
Meg Ryan

Meg Ryan has been the object of desire in many iconic films in the 80s and 90s. The now-61-year-old has starred in many movies that hold major significance in American culture such as "When Harry Met Sally," "Sleepless in Seattle," and "Top Gun." 

Yet in a path all too familiar for many women of her age, Ryan is now finding herself at the center of the world's attention for another reason — her appearance.

Ryan made a rare public appearance in New York on May 3, 2023, stepping out to support the release of Michael J. Fox’s documentary, “STILL” and, in doing so, opened herself up to floods of criticism from those who have demonized her for not aging in the "right" way — if there was such a thing.

RELATED: Am I The Only One Who Doesn’t Want To Insult Madonna’s Face?

Recent photos of Meg Ryan prompted plastic surgery accusations and cruel comments about her aging.

Page Six called the actress "unrecognizable" while many harsher comments flooded social media, comparing Ryan to "Frankenstein" and using her image as a warning against plastic surgery all while neglecting the fact that this kind of commentary is exactly what pressures women to get surgery in the first place.

Plastic surgeons and other commentators took to TikTok with "before and after" photos of Ryan, comparing her 30-something-year-old face to her as she embraces her 60s, questioning and criticizing her for looking drastically different over a three-decade span because how dare she, right? 

RELATED: I'm Sick Of Everyone Acting Like My Aging Body Needs To Be 'Fixed'



To be clear, Ryan has never addressed surgery rumors and it shouldn’t matter, even if she did—what Ryan wants to do with her body is her business, only. But it's hard not to see the glaring hypocrisy in this type of analysis. We're picking apart a woman's face feature by feature and then questioning why she hasn't embraced every facet of herself. 

Ryan, who has not starred in a movie since 2015, has been somewhat siloed from her former status as the ultimate love interest in many famous rom-coms. Such is the way for many female stars, and women in general, who reach a certain age and see their right to be deemed attractive or beautiful ripped out from under them. 

In 2014, Meryl Streep spoke to this phenomenon, "I was offered three witches [roles] when I turned 40 - in one year, and I thought: 'Oh, this is how it's gonna go?'"

Society, and Hollywood in particular, tends to view women as dispensable objects, and not actual fully-formed people with a whole life behind them. For actresses who rose to fame with roles that featured them as romantic leads, the discourse around women aging seems especially fraught. 

Icons like Madonna have spoken out against the inherent misogyny in how women are treated in regard to getting older. After her 2023 Grammy appearance, Madonna was viciously criticized for how she looked. She took to Instagram to tell the world, “Once again I am caught in the glare of ageism and misogyny That permeates the world we live in. A world that refuses to celebrate women past the age of 45.”

RELATED: Gwyneth Paltrow's Latest Strict 'Wellness' Advice Proves It's Time To Follow A New Queen Of Self-Care—Ina Garten

“I have never apologized for any of the creative choices I have made nor the way that I look or dress and I’m not going to start,” Madonna explained. “I look forward to many more years of subversive behavior– pushing boundaries— Standing up to the patriarchy— and most of all enjoying my life.”

Hyperfocusing on how women look subtracts from the whole of our existence. Women are so much more than just our faces. Yet the world continuously refuses to see women as people, deserving of bodily autonomy, basic human rights, and societal respect. 

All too often, beauty is synonymous with youth yet when a woman attempts to emulate it in her later years, she is blamed for not embracing "aging gracefully" — though no grace is given to those who do either.

RELATED: Mom Makes Her 9-Year-Old Daughter Get Surgery To 'Look More Beautiful'

Women are dragged both for having cosmetic surgery and for avoiding it. It seems that no matter how we choose to age, we can’t win.

Actress Justine Bateman, who starred in the hit 80s sitcom "Family Ties," recently came under fire for the mere act of being a 57-year-old woman, complete with wrinkles and graying hair. 

In an interview with 60 Minutes Australia, Bateman posed the question, “When you say, ‘Is there beauty in aging,’ aren’t you really saying, ‘Do you think it’s possible for other people to find aging beautiful?’ And, like, I just don’t give a s–t.”

RELATED: Aging Gracefully As A Feminist Is A Heck Of A Lot Harder Than I Thought It'd Be

“I think I look rad,” Bateman continued. “I think my face represents who I am. I like it, and so, that’s basically the end of the road.”

In 2015, People Magazine reported on an interview that Ryan gave in the winter issue of Porter. In that interview, Ryan explained a valuable truth, saying, “There are more important conversations than how women look and how they are aging.” Ryan, then 54, said, “I love my age. I love my life right now. I love what I know about. I love the person I’ve become, the one I’ve evolved into.”

Ryan’s statement shows a side of aging that we rarely see— the acceptance and celebration of the fact that time inevitably moves forward, and our lives move forward along with it. 

“We get stuck in these conversations about looks and hair color and our roots. It’s interesting and funny for five minutes, but it’s not that interesting.”

“There’s a lot of hatred in the world today, it’s so easy to judge,” Ryan remarked. “I’m with my life right now in a way that I adore, with my kids and my world.”

Ryan is taking up space in a society that’s willing to cast her aside, all for growing older. It’s no one else’s business what she does or doesn’t do to her face. To continue tearing women apart for our decisions is holding us back from radically loving ourselves and our lives.

Ryan, along with other aging female stars, owe us nothing—not their looks nor their presence in the world. It’s time to shift the conversation away from what women look like as they age, and towards what we’re capable of completing when we do. 

RELATED: Woman Sharing The Process Of Getting A New Nose Says She Will Hate Her Kids If They're Ugly

Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers celebrity gossip, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.