Heidi Montag is a reality TV star who has continually and publicly struggled with self-esteem issues during her short time in the media spotlight.
By her own admission, she felt so pressured to fit in with the entertainment industry’s often warped perception of aesthetic perfection she underwent no less than 10 cosmetic procedures.
The results of the plastic surgery drastically altered her appearance, and Montag quickly notched up negative column inches in tabloids the world over after she revealed her new look for the first time.
If anyone has sympathy with the coverage of Renee Zellweger’s appearance this week, it’s her. “I don't know if Renee Zellweger just aged like she said... For me, when I see people who look totally different, I have an empathy, because I feel like I know why at least I did it, and it kind of brings it back to that time in my life,” the 28-year-old Hills actress told Extra on Thursday.
“I hope it's the right decision for them and they feel good about it. That's the most important thing,” she continued.
“But at the same time, my heart goes out to them... It's a hard, life-changing decision. When anyone does that then they're obviously unhappy with something. I hope they found their happiness.”
“You have family that makes it hard too sometimes - not only are you getting the criticism from the world,” she admitted.
She concluded by saying that, despite not being as recognisable a figure as Zellweger, she felt it was “harder than ever” to be in the public eye.
“You have to be tougher, you have to have a really thick skin. I think that's one of the reasons I went into hiding and just kind of bowed out of it, because it gets too intense.”
Zellweger’s appearance became a media talking point after she attended the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards in Beverly Hills on Monday.
However, the actress deftly handled negative comments by telling reporters she was “pleased” they’d noticed she looks “different”.
“I'm living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows,” she told People.
“My friends say that I look peaceful. I am healthy.
“For a long time I wasn't doing such a good job with that. I took on a schedule that is not realistically sustainable and didn't allow for taking care of myself. Rather than stopping to recalibrate, I kept running until I was depleted and made bad choices about how to conceal the exhaustion.”
“I did work that allows for being still, making a home, loving someone, learning new things, growing as a creative person and finally growing into myself,” she continued, noting that she chose to address the speculation because “it seems the folks who come digging around for some nefarious truth which doesn't exist won't get off my porch until I answer the door.”
In 2013, the actress was forced to comment on other speculation over her appearance, this time after it was reported that she was suffering from an eating disorder.
She branded the speculation “very unfair and disappointing”, adding that, “it’s not very pleasant to read reports which say you’ve gone too far or this or that.”