Ashley Judd strikes back at 'gloating' critics over her 'puffy face moment'

April 12, 2012 at 8:42 AM ET

It was prescription steroids. Ashley Judd says there was no other reason for her apparently puffy face -- not plastic surgery (botched or otherwise) or diet issues, but a medication reaction. But as she told TODAY's Natalie Morales Thursday, there there was also no excuse for the way she was pounced on for her appearance.

"I don't think that being a public figure makes it legitimate to criticize people the way they are currently criticized in this cultural climate," said the actress, who turns 44 next week.

She said she was offended by the "nasty," "vitriolic" and "gloating tone" the comments took.

But there's a bigger picture here, one she discussed at length in an essay in The Daily Beast. Namely that the objectification and scrutiny of both men and women has gotten out of control. "We're taught not to admit how much it hurts," she said. "Just go buy more hairspray, get back to the gym or buy another butt-clencher exercise DVD, that's how to undo the hurt. When in fact that's just contributing to the pain."

"My puffy face moment is another person's big butt moment," she said. "What happened to me is very common.... We all go through it."

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