Reneé Zellweger says that she's tired of a woman's worth being "measured by her appearance"
Credit: Karwai Tang/WireImage

Renée Zellweger says public scrutiny of her appearance is just a symptom of a greater problem faced by women.

In a new essay for the Huffington Post, Zellweger decries how “a woman’s worth has historically been measured by her appearance” while refuting tabloid claims that she underwent plastic surgery on her face – rumors first sparked by a 2014 red carpet appearance.

“Not that it’s anyone’s business, but I did not make a decision to alter my face and have surgery on my eyes,” the Bridget Jones’s Baby star writes.

Previously, Zellweger exclusively told PEOPLE of the Internet chatter regarding her appearance, “I’m glad folks think I look different! I’m living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I’m thrilled that perhaps it shows.”

Zellweger, 47, says in her Huffington Post essay that at first, “it didn’t matter” that people were speculating she had gone under the knife. She explains, “Just one more story in the massive smut pile generated every day by the tabloid press and fueled by exploitative headlines and folks who practice cowardly cruelty from their anonymous internet pulpits.”

She says that, at first, she didn’t feel inclined to comment on the “humiliating tabloid stories,” but, because of our “current culture,” her non-response made her seem “a suspicious character.”

Still, Zellweger insists she’s not writing because she feels bullied or pressured into it, but rather, because she “must make some claim on the truths of my life.”

“It’s no secret a woman’s worth has historically been measured by her appearance,” she charges. “Although we have evolved to acknowledge the importance of female participation in determining the success of society, and take for granted that women are standard bearers in all realms of high profile position and influence, the double standard used to diminish our contributions remains, and is perpetuated by the negative conversation which enters our consciousness every day as snark entertainment.”

Instead, the actress suggests, we should focus on the “countless significant unprecedented current events affecting our world.”

She asks, “What if immaterial tabloid stories, judgments and misconceptions remained confined to the candy jar of low-brow entertainment and were replaced in mainstream media by far more important, necessary conversations?”

Finally, Zellweger – who calls herself “lucky” – concludes, “Maybe we could talk more about our many true societal challenges and how we can do better.”

Before penning the Huffington Post piece, Zellweger was defended by other women in Hollywood, including Rose McGowan, who wrote in The Hollywood Reporter in July, “Renée Zellweger is a human being, with feelings, with a life, with love and with triumphs and struggles, just like the rest of us.”

Added McGowan, “How dare you bully a woman who has done nothing but try to entertain people like you?”