Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Afternoon with Ashley Judd -Sort Of

I've been hearing all sorts of nonsense lately about Ashley Judd. Apparently in a recent interview her face looked puffy and the Internet was set ablaze with gossip about her being fat, old, ugly and/ or having ruined her looks with cosmetic procedures. She shot back and wrote this piece and now everyone is talking about it on TV and the radio and posting it on facebook. I hadn't really thought about Ashley Judd in years. I thought she stopped acting and went on to live her life in peace. I suppose not. I applaud her for speaking out and starting a conversation about how women's looks are cruelly scrutinized and I'm all on her side. I loved her back in the 90s and all this hype reminded me of when I actually got to meet and spend time with her, not as Ashley Judd the movie star, but as Ashley the normal girl and I wanted to share that.

One extremely busy Saturday before Christmas, Ashley Judd and one of her handlers came into the paint your own pottery shop in Atlanta where I worked. I was frazzled and flustered and we had no room at all and she had to wait. I had NO IDEA she was herself. No clue that she was Ashley Judd so I treated her just like everyone else and just like everyone else she had to wait for a table to paint. Guess what she did? She sat on the floor and waited without a bit of complaint and as soon as it was her turn I got her a table.

She was pretty, but not movie star pretty, meaning she looked like an actual human being and didn't glow and shine and emit her own personal rainbows. She simply looked like a normal, pretty girl. She was my exact same size back then. We are the same height and exact same build. Seriously, I could have been her body double. We could have shared clothes. I'm not kidding, we could have been sisters, but I would have been the ugly one.

Ashley Judd, bless her heart, got on my nerves that day, and remember this is before I realized who she was. I wonder had I known she was famous if I would have been more patient. I found her to be excessively needy and unsure of herself when it came to painting. She needed my help with everything from picking what she wanted to paint (a tall mug eventually) to assisting with color choice. I showed her exactly what to do and then she finally just got frustrated and asked me to paint her mug for her. She wanted a Tennessee wildcat on it and wanted me to paint it. I said "No, I am not going to paint your mug. This is a paint YOUR own pottery studio and that's the fun. It doesn't have to be perfect. Relax."

But she didn't relax and I had to coach her and help her and give her constant reassurance that her wildcat mug was just fine as it was and that it wasn't supposed to look like it came out of a stadium gift shop. I remember thinking to myself that jeez, this poor pretty girl seems so lonely, so desperate and so terribly lacking in confidence. And why was she with this weird older guy in a suit who just sat there and didn't want to paint anything? It was the strangest thing. You'd normally expect a pretty girl in her twenties to be painting pottery with a group of girlfriends, which she looked like she desperately needed. She just seemed so sad, so eventually I gave in and helped her, still not realizing she was a big time movie star. I helped her paint and I gave her a lot of cheerleading and encouragement, which she apparently really, really needed and we kind of built up a little rapport there. I'd come check on her every few minutes and tell her she was doing a good job and like a child she'd look up at me and and say "really? really?" and I'd reassure her again and make her smile.

Finally the poor soul finished her mug and gave it to me to glaze and fire. She signed it "AJ" on the bottom and made arrangements for me to ship it to a place in Tennessee addressed to "Chanticleer" which is the name of a rooster and I couldn't figure out what the hell that meant, but whatever and she told me she was only in town for the day to see a game of some sort and was flying right back to Tennessee so she wouldn't be around to pick up her finished mug the next day. I remember telling her she must be a serious sports fan if she was willing to go to all the trouble to fly in and out for a day to see a game and paint a mug and she laughed and the weird quiet man in the suit snickered. I wished her a happy holiday season and she asked me again if she did a good job on her mug.

"Yes," I said, "It's just fine. You did a good job."

Wow, I thought when she left. What a strange customer and then everyone in the studio erupted into near hysteria because OH MY GOD that was Ashley Judd did you see her?? And everyone was coming up to me asking me about her and I was all like, huh? Ashley Judd? OH MY GOD it was. I just spent two hours getting annoyed at Ashley Judd and her terrible lack of confidence about painting a damned blue mug with a wildcat on it. For the love of absolute God. 

I always think about this when I hear about her in the news. A few years back I remember hearing that she went to rehab for codependency of all things. REHAB. But yeah, I could kinda see that she might need that from my short experience with her. I've always felt a great compassion for her after seeing what a hard time she had painting a simple mug and how much reassurance I had to give her that she was ok, so this new to-do about her appearance must be very hard. She must need a new pep talk from me.

Ashley Judd, you are still beautiful. I'm a size 6/8 now too. I could still be your body double and could still pass as your uglier sister. Girl, we just got older. My face is puffy as hell too. It happens. And if you feel like crap about yourself, do yourself a favor and go to Walmart. You'll feel instantly gorgeous. Always works for me. And don't listen to the vicious talk about you, which according to your response, you don't anymore. You kick ass Ashley Judd. I love that you wrote an articulate response and spoke out about the ways in which we talk about how women look. Thanks for doing that. I hope you still have your wildcat mug that I helped you paint because, again, you did a good job on it. Really.


kerry said...

I haven't read the post, but I've seen it referenced. It's stupid how we hold women (especially famous women) to some inhuman standard of beauty. Just let her be herself and get on with your life, yes?

Laurie Evans said...

oh my gosh, you have the most interesting life experiences! Are you going to add this to your memoir?

I loved the article she wrote, everything she said is so true. It's ridiculous, all the obsession about beauty and looks and cosmetic surgery, etc. aren't there more important things to talk and think about?

Anonymous said...

Did you read her bio? I heard she was abandoned and left at home with awful kinds of men while her mother and sister toured. I love that she spoke out about the way women are depicted in our society too. But I am so glad that she made it as an actress; I wonder if the directors ever got annoyed with constantly having to reassure her.

Miss Kitty said...

I too loved AJ's article. What an amazing story this is, WL. Bless both of you: you for your patience, and her for just being herself & refusing to be what other people think she should be.

Anonymous said...

Yeesh. Way to undercut your own point by snarking on the strangers at Walmart.

Sarah663 said...

I'm pretty sure it was a Kentucky Wildcat, for the University of Kentucky :)

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