I know I can’t be alone in thinking that Jennifer Aniston’s life seems amazing. The woman has a long and storied career. She has friends. She has somewhere to live. Her hair, nearly three decades after we all declared it as such, is still incredible. And in 2018, she’s still relevant to the point where we all care a lot about what she’s up to.
Nothing seems bad about her sweet, full life. Unless you’re reading about her recent divorce and relationship history which, according to every magazine on the planet, is fodder for a Shakespearean tragedy.
“It’s pretty crazy,” she told InStyle in their September cover story. “The misconceptions are ‘Jen can’t keep a man,’ and ‘Jen refuses to have a baby because she’s selfish and committed to her career.”
“Or that I’m sad and heartbroken. First, with all due respect, I’m not heartbroken. And second, those are reckless assumptions. No one knows what’s going on behind closed doors. No one considers how sensitive that might be for my partner and me. They don’t know what I’ve been through medically or emotionally.”
To which she adds: “There is pressure on women to be mothers. [If they aren’t], they seem like damaged goods. Maybe my purpose on this planet isn’t to procreate. Maybe I have other things I’m supposed to do?”
And angels wept (tears of validation and agreement).
Having grown up in the era of “WHEN WILL JENNIFER ANISTON GET PREGNANT?!” I remember all too well the narrative that took shape around her marriage with Brad Pitt. At the start, it was incredible that they got married (and were now part of a fairytale we were told to buy into) — before it was considered an atrocity that the two hadn’t had kids within the first three weeks. Eventually, we were told that while Brad wanted a family, Jen wanted no such thing and how dare he for asking. And then Angelina happened, and the “Poor Jen!” headlines began.
But poor Jen . . . why? Because a marriage that obviously wasn’t working came to a close? Because she worked steadily? Because she was never at a loss for friends or plans or events she was photographed at? Because she started dating Justin Theroux? Because they eventually got married? Because they decided to call it quits instead of opting to soldier through something that also clearly wasn’t working? I mean, hi: it’s 2018. Divorce, being single, and a lack of children do not create the recipe for a terrible life — they are normal, standard, reasonable parts of life in general. Why would we want a famous stranger to abide by social norms most of us (non-famous strangers) have been pushing back on so fervently? At what point did we decide that marriage or children guaranteed happiness? At what point did we decide to ignore the very important argument that they are, for the record, not?
I mean, hey: if you want to get married and have kids, live it up. Plan that wedding, have a baby shower, revel in the fact that you are free to make your own choices, and that those are choices you, as a grown up, have decided to make. But if you don’t want to? If, like some of us (hi), you’ve known kids aren’t for you since you were old enough to hold your baby cousin? Or you’ve known that for you, work does come first, and you know you’re not ready to compromise anything enough to make a marriage work? (Maybe ever?) Then what? We’re wanting for something? That we’re incomplete? Should we be lighting candles at the shrine of St. Jennifer and pray that she forms a lifelong romantic partnership? Would that make everyone feel better? Would that re-establish some type of world order?
Hard pass. And we know it.
But here was are, two decades into a new century, and Jennifer Aniston’s marital status is a going concern. And it’s embarrassing. I’m embarrassed. I’m mortified that a woman who’s successful enough to be on the cover of the September issue of a magazine is fielding questions about the status of her uterus and ring finger. As if it’s any of our business. As if those are things she should be concerned about. Guys. No. Stop it. Jennifer Aniston’s life seems sweet. And honestly, if it didn’t, still: stop it.
Because I guess the thing that bothers me most is if we’re dictating her story via very outdated means of social and familial standing, and she’s a fucking movie star, what hope is there for the rest of us?