Ashley Judd is no stranger to activism. The actress is a self-proclaimed advocate for human rights, social justice, and gender violence issues.
But this time the cause in question is the recent treatment of her physical appearance.
In a column in "The Daily Beast," Judd slams the media for its "pointedly nasty, gendered, and misogynistic" comments about her recent puffy appearance, which she says was the result of steroid medication for a month-long cold.
Ashley Judd in Pasadena, Calif. on Jan. 10, 2012.
After an extended hiatus from acting, Judd began making promotional appearances last month for her new ABC drama, "Missing." The 43-year-old became the subject of criticism, with many speculating that because the actress's face looked fuller than usual, she must have had some kind of plastic surgery or work done.
In her response to the conjecture, Judd outlines five "conclusions" that the media made after seeing her, including identifying the exact procedures she allegedly had done and that she has gained weight and looks like a "cow" and a "pig" and she had "'better watch out' because my husband 'is looking for his second wife.'"
She writes that the criticism of her "embodies what all girls and women in our culture ... endure every day, in ways both outrageous and subtle.The assault on our body image, the hypersexualization of girls and women and subsequent degradation of our sexuality as we walk through the decades, and the general incessant objectification is what this conversation allegedly about my face is really about."
Her column, which has gone viral since it appeared Monday, has made her a hero in the blogosphere.
It is not just a response to how she was treated, it is a call to action for both men and women to stop playing this patriarchal game, equating female beauty to self worth.
What angers Judd is that many of these criticisms were initiated by women, which she terms "a sad and disturbing fact." Though Judd admits she too has criticized people for their appearance, "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."
Judd implores people to stop "the insanity" of obsessing about physical appearances, and hopes "the sharing of my thoughts can generate a new conversation."
Some responses in the Daily Beast to her column seem indicative of what she addresses. While many applaud her stance, others criticize it, with one commenter saying that Judd is "using women's insecurity to smoke screen the fact that she's altered her looks negatively by plastic surgery and she's now playing the victim by supposedly identify with the average insecure woman!"
Several of Judd's nearly 100,000 Twitter followers were supportive of her column, calling it "eloquent," "well written" and "thoughtful" on the social media site.
But getting people talking about the larger issues surrounding what happened to her in the last month seems to be Judd's point.
"I hope the sharing of my thoughts can generate a new conversation: Why was a puffy face cause for such a conversation in the first place?" she writes. "If this conversation about me is going to be had, I will do my part to insist that it is a feminist one, because it has been misogynistic from the start. ... Join in - and help change - the Conversation."