When Jennifer Aniston released an article last night entitled ‘For The Record,’ addressing her feelings on those pregnancy rumours, on her body, her husband and the pressures facing women in 2016, she did it in true Jen An fashion. She was calm, she was articulate, but her message was clear. She is, in her own words, ‘fed up.’
She explained: ‘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. The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing.’
Is it surprising that Jen feels like this? Not really. And it’s undoubted that the most recent spate of stories – after the 47-year-old star was spotted on holiday in Mexico with hubby Justin Theroux and was forced to clarify that she was not with child, but had just eaten a big meal – played a part her decision to speak out.
Of course I, and my friends and colleagues have all partaken in this speculation. There’s something about Jen which makes her the every woman – as she says, ‘a symbol’. When she was unceremoniously dumped by Brad Pitt in 2005 we felt her pain – it reminded us of our own experiences of failed relationships. We want her to be happy. But maybe it’s time to admit that we have been very blinkered in our presumption that that happiness should come in the shape of a man, a child, a perfect body.
If you think about it though, like Jen says, we’re guilty of it in real life too. Asking that recently married friend if she’s planning to start a family soon, the single one if she’s met anyone, the one who already has children when she might have more. We tell each other we look great when we’re thin, congratulating weight loss with breathless fever.
Should it have taken Jennifer to actually have to come out and defend herself? Of course not. Is it a good thing that she did? Definitely. Jen has, once and for all, refused to let anyone control the narrative of her life. It’s been eleven long years since she and Brad split, eleven long years of split rumours and ‘baby news’ (she’s not pregnant, just FYI).
It’s also a good thing for women. It’s a reminder to treat your friends and other women with a little more kindness, as more than baby-makers or girlfriends, to treat them as human beings. Her piece is both empowering and sad.
As Jen says: ‘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.’
Other female celebrities have been quick to praise Jennifer’s essay, Cheryl being one of them. “Just when I thought I couldn’t love her any more,” Cheryl tweeted, along with a link to Jennifer’s blog post on The Huffington Post. That makes two of us, Cheryl.