“For the record, I am not pregnant. What I am is fed up.”
Jennifer Aniston has finally had enough. In a scathing online op-ed published on Tuesday, the actress directly addressed tabloid speculation about her personal life – arguing powerfully that the way famous women are treated by the media reflects a wider culture of sexism.
“If I am some kind of symbol to some people out there, then clearly I am an example of the lens through which we, as a society, view our mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, female friends and colleagues,” she wrote, in the essay for The Huffington Post. “The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing. The way I am portrayed by the media is simply a reflection of how we see and portray women in general, measured against some warped standard of beauty.”
Aniston, 47, has been a tabloid fixture since she first appeared in Friends in 1994, and said that she used to resist taking celebrity gossip seriously. However, she said that she could no longer take this stance after enduring years of pregnancy speculation pegged off her relationship status or her body.
“The reality,” she wrote, “is the stalking and objectification I’ve experienced first-hand, going on decades now, reflects the warped way we calculate a woman’s worth.”
Few other celebrities have had their child-free status scrutinised like Aniston. In June, the actress endured what she refers to as “the bajillionth” round of pregnancy rumours, after being photographed in a bikini on the beach in the Bahamas. (Her publicist dismissed the speculation at the time, saying that Aniston had simply enjoyed “a delicious big lunch”.)
This sort of tabloid gossip, Aniston says, perpetuates a “dehumanizing view of females, focused solely on one’s physical appearance… Is she pregnant? Is she eating too much? Has she let herself go?” She was concerned, she wrote, about the impact it would have on young girls to see famous women’s bodies picked apart in this way – as well as the implicit suggestion that as a woman, being pregnant is the ultimate goal.
“Yes, I may become a mother some day,” she wrote. “But I’m not in pursuit of motherhood because I feel incomplete in some way, as our celebrity news culture would lead us all to believe. I resent being made to feel ‘less than’ because my body is changing and/or I had a burger for lunch and was photographed from a weird angle and therefore deemed one of two things: ‘pregnant’ or ‘fat.’”
“Here’s where I come out on this topic: we are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies. That decision is ours and ours alone… We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own ‘happily ever after’ for ourselves.”
You can’t say better than that. Jennifer: we salute you.