Jennifer Aniston may have stolen our hearts as Rachel Green in Friends, but the actor has long since earned our respect and enduring affection with her no-nonsense approach to misogynistic media reports and outdated societal pressures placed upon women.
Case in point? The tabloids have long peddled a narrative around the status of Aniston’s relationship with her ex-husband, Brad Pitt – one which is focused, primarily, on the likelihood of them getting back together. So, yes, when Aniston worked with Pitt on a recent virtual table read of Fast Times At Ridgemont High, the internet was soon flooded with articles on what that meant for them both.
But, addressing the speculation on SiriusXM’s The Howard Stern Show, Aniston made it all too clear that any perceived “weirdness” between her and Pitt was the result of people’s feverish imaginations.
Below: watch the virtual table read of Fast Times At Ridgemont High.
“Brad and I are buddies,” she said firmly. “We’re friends. And we speak, and there’s no oddness at all, except for everyone that probably watched it and was wanting there to be, or assumed there to be.”
Aniston added firmly: “We had fun, and [the virtual reading] was for a great cause, [Sean Penn’s community relief nonprofit] CORE.”
Of course, it’s not the first time that Aniston has refused to bow down to this outdated idea that exes are either pining for one another or at each other’s throats. Indeed, when she released a statement confirming her 2017 split from Justin Theroux, she noted: “We are two best friends who have decided to part ways as a couple, but look forward to continuing our cherished friendship.
“Above all, we are determined to maintain the deep respect and love that we have for one another.”
So, considering her unwavering ability to rise above the noise of what she terms the “gossip industry,” it makes sense that Aniston had the perfect response when she was recently asked whether or not she hopes to get married again someday.
“It’s not on my radar,” she told People. “Yes, I’m interested in finding a fantastic partner and just living an enjoyable life and having fun with one another. But that’s all we should hope for.”
Aniston added simply: “It doesn’t have to be etched in stone in legal documents.”
Well, exactly. And, as the actor has pointed out time and time again, there’s more to life than marriage. “We are complete with or without a mate,” she famously told The Huffington Post, insisting she’s sick of how society determines a woman’s worth based on her maternal and marital status.
“That decision is ours and ours alone,” Aniston continued. “Let’s make that decision for ourselves and for the young women in this world who look to us as examples. Let’s make that decision consciously, outside of the tabloid noise.
“We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own ‘happily ever after’ for ourselves.”
It’s worth noting here that Aniston – when you look at “Aniston the Brilliant Woman and Actor”, rather than “Aniston the Single Woman” – is well and truly a success, by anyone’s standards. Her net worth is estimated at around $200 million (£142m), thanks to her hugely successful career as an actor. She has featured on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list – which is based on earnings and fame – every year since 2001. She ranked third on Forbes’ Top Earning Female Actors list in 2014, fifth in 2015, fourth in 2016.
In August 2017, Aniston was ranked as the world’s second highest-paid actress, earning $25.5m (£18m) a year. And, for her role in the Apple TV+ drama series The Morning Show (season two of which is on the way), she won a Screen Actors Guild Award, not to mention earned nominations for a Primetime Emmy Award and two Golden Globes.
Yes, Aniston is open to finding love again – but she isn’t making it the sole goal of her existence. Because, as she says, while a happy relationship can enhance our lives, it cannot ‘complete’ them; we need to find a way to be whole by ourselves.
And, more importantly, we need to determine our own worth based on our own definitions of success, not those that we’ve been pressured into believing by society.
Now that’s a lesson we can well and truly get behind.
Images: Getty/Apple TV