Everything everyone is saying about Madonna’s face

Madonna giving her speech
Photo: GLAAD

On Sunday night, Madonna appeared onstage at the Grammys to introduce Sam Smith and Kim Petras’s performance of their groundbreaking — and soon to be Grammy-winning — hit “Unholy.”

Almost immediately, it seemed like it was open season on the “Material Girl” singer. Both fans and haters took to social media to comment on Madonna’s face, and the critiques seemed to come from all directions. Some bemoaned a youth-obsessed culture that forces women to get cosmetic surgery. Others accused her of not “aging gracefully.” Cheap jokes about her looking like a blood-sucking vampire or alien abounded, as did comparisons to Janice from the Muppets and Jigsaw from the Saw movies.

Some people compared Madonna to other women at similar ages, including Nancy Reagan, Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles, Christie Brinkley and even some of their own mothers.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a large amount of the hate came from Christian conservatives, who accused Madonna of blasphemy and even Satanism.

“Fans ‘so confused’ by Madonna’s ‘new face’ at Grammys 2023,” read a New York Post headline. U.K. tabloid The Daily Mail asked plastic surgeons to weigh in on the singer’s appearance, while columnist Sarah Vine wrote that Madonna seemed to be “wearing a mask made of society’s expectations – and it really doesn’t suit her.” Writing for The Guardian, author and journalist Nancy Jo Sales called the online chatter “sexist snark.

Even the The New York Times weighed in. In an op-ed on Wednesday, novelist Jennifer Weiner declared Madonna’s “new face” a “brilliant provocation.”

“I’d like to think that our era’s greatest chameleon, a woman who has always been intentional about her reinvention, was doing something slyer, more subversive, by serving us both a new — if not necessarily improved — face and a side of critique about the work of beauty, the inevitability of aging, and the impossible bind in which older female celebrities find themselves,” Weiner wrote.

Of course, the singer’s legion of fans came to her defense, acknowledging her career accomplishments and long-time support of the LGBTQ+ community. Some even took Madonna’s gay fans to task for their comments about her looks.

On Tuesday, Madonna responded to all the chatter via a long statement posted on Instagram.

“Instead of focusing on what I said in my speech which was about giving thanks for the fearlessness of artists like Sam and Kim- Many people chose to only talk about Close-up photos of me Taken with a long lens camera By a press photographer that Would distort anyone’s face!!” she wrote. “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 And feels the need to punish her If she continues to be strong willed, hard-working and adventurous.”

“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,” she continued. “I have been degraded by the media since the beginning of my career but I understand that this is all a test and I am happy to do the trailblazing so that all the women behind me can have an easier time in the years to come. In the words of Beyonce ‘You-won’t break my soul.’”

The singer, who recently announced a career-spanning world tour, closed by promising much more provocation in the future. “I look forward to many more years of subversive behavior -pushing boundaries-Standing up to the patriarchy -and Most of all enjoying my life.”

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