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Arrested Development was recently reprised after a seven-year hiatus. A new season featuring the original cast was posted in its entirety to Netflix on Sunday. Actress Portia de Rossi returned to her role as Lindsay Bluth Fünke, showing the minor changes in appearance typical after seven years of aging and new fashion trends. 

Many Arrested Development fans have been quick to criticize her appearance– even insisting that her theoretical plastic surgery has rendered the show unwatchable. In Portia de Rossi’s Face Isn’t Messed Up — We Are, Flavorwire’s Tyler Coates points out the gender bias implicit in such comments.

Everyone has subtly aged a bit in the last few years — David Cross gained weight, as men typically do in their 40s, and Michael Cera lost a lot of the baby fat still visible in his face back when he was 17. But most of the focus has been put on Portia de Rossi…

That her appearance has been cited as a reason why the fourth season of Arrested Development isn’t as good as the previous three, suggesting her face is so distracting that it’s impossible for anyone to laugh at Mitch Hurwitz’s jokes, is more disheartening that the notion that she’s succumbed to pressure and had any sort of plastic surgery.

Coates brings up de Rossi’s struggles with eating disorders in the past. This calls to mind the lack of empathy implicit in the idea that the appearance of human beings should be freely criticized over the internet. Also noted is the faulty logic leading to the idea that she’s aged abnormally at all. The entire article is well worth the read, but perhaps the most important argument Coates offers is this:

What we should be talking about… is how a woman’s appearance can be the center of conversation and why we are so obsessed with an actress’s looks…and why the conversation so rarely includes a male actor’s appearance. The answer is an easy one: we live in a sexist culture in which the women we admire for their talents, good looks, and celebrity must at all times retain the subjective ideals we place upon them. Perhaps it’s more appropriate to say that anyone unable to enjoy a show because one of its stars does not look perfect says more about the viewer’s own problems and less about the actor’s.

Photo credit: Fame Pictures, Inc, under Creative Commons license

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