Renee Zellweger just isn’t herself

In the real world, 45 is hardly old. But in Hollywood, especially for women, the natural aging process can equate to career suicide. That, or mom and lawyer roles.

Some brave ladies gloriously buck (obvious) plastic surgery — Susan Sarandon, Goldie Hawn and Glenn Close are a few who come to mind. But there are unfortunate instances of plastic surgery gone awry when the aging actress in question looks like a melting version of her former self. Are you listening, Daryl Hannah and Lara Flynn Boyle?

Latest case study: Renee Zellweger, who shocked fans and even non-fans when she stepped out at ELLE’s 21st annual Women In Hollywood Awards Monday night. Her face wasn’t the face we knew and loved in rom-com classics like Bridget Jones Diary, The Bachelor and Down With Love.

Hard to take in that this red carpet vision was the same babe screaming her way through 1994’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. Or the cutie pie in her breakthrough movie, Jerry Maguire.

Dr. Janet Prystowsky, a board certified dermatologist in NYC, tells that Zellweger (who hasn’t appeared in a movie since 2010’s My Own Love Song) looks to have had major work done including a brow lift, eyelid lift and facelift. Prystowsky added that Botox was likely involved as well.

Yes, indeedy: Gone are the Texan’s’ sweetly squinty eyes and adorable apple cheeks. Insert sad emoticon here. Those were the distinctive features that made her her.

Many social media typists were relentless, posting commentaries under her picture that we won’t publish here. But others seemed concerned and maybe just a little nostalgic for the old, ahem, we mean young, Renee Zellweger. “There was no reason to even enter the rabbit hole!” wrote a disappointed Facebook user.

But, then again, it’s not about us. Zellweger herself is proud of her appearance, telling People in a statement: “I'm living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows.”