Jennifer Aniston is not here for the relentless speculation that she might be pregnant; the incessant, totally unsubstantiated jabber that she's feeling victorious over her ex's divorce; or the way tabloids belittle and objectify women in general. The accomplished actress is sick and tired of her decades-long recurring role on the cover of the rags crowded around the supermarket checkout, dissecting her personal life and physical appearance with anything but accuracy. This beloved American icon doesn't want anyone's pity, because she isn't a victim — and, as she makes clear in Marie Claire's upcoming feature, Jennifer Aniston absolutely doesn't want to be "whittled down to a sad, childless human." Because her relationships to other people, in case you haven't heard, actually don't define her.
For more then 20 years, since Aniston charmed us all as Rachel Green on the preeminent '90s sitcom Friends, tabloids have loved her — or, more specifically, loved to comment on her body, her relationships, and especially her childlessness as the now-47-year-old has aged. And it's been exhausting, as she told Marie Claire's Kimberly Cutter:
My marital status has been shamed; my divorce status was shamed; my lack of a mate had been shamed; my nipples have been shamed. It's like, Why are we only looking at women through this particular lens of picking us apart? Why are we listening to it? I just thought: I have worked too hard in this life and this career to be whittled down to a sad, childless human.
But that's the Jennifer Aniston narrative that the celebrity media has latched onto with a laser-focused and enduring ferocity, even though the wildly successful actress, producer, and director has done exactly zilch to fuel it. Still, when her ex-husband of more than a decade, Brad Pitt, and his wife, Angelina Jolie, announced their divorce in September, the celebrity-obsessed contingent conjured from its own collective imagination a portrait of a vindictive, gloating woman who was delighted over the dissolution of a family — not one who's starred in 22 movies, acted in four TV shows, completed two video shorts, executive produced eight movies, and directed two films, since her own 2005 split from Pitt, not to mention gotten remarried and, by all legitimate accounts, totally moved on.
To reduce Aniston to simply Brad Pitt's ex-wife strips her of her context as a real, whole person. The same is true with the obsessive interest in whether she's pregnant. In an affecting essay published on The Huffington Post's website in June, Aniston cut to the heart of why this type of talk about her is so supremely problematic:
The sheer amount of resources being spent right now by press trying to simply uncover whether or not I am pregnant (for the bajillionth time... but who’s counting) points to the perpetuation of this notion that women are somehow incomplete, unsuccessful, or unhappy if they’re not married with children ... we are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child.
Jennifer Aniston is whole, and she doesn't need children — or even a husband — to prove it.