No, Jennifer Aniston is not pregnant, and she’d like us all to stop asking.
Jennifer Aniston Is Not Pregnant. Why Do We Care?
Jennifer Aniston, the actress whose frequently exposed personal life has driven untold sums of money to the celebrity journalism business, would like for it to stop speculating about the contents of her uterus.
“For the record, I am not pregnant,” she wrote in an essay for The Huffington Post this week. “What I am is fed up. I’m fed up with the sport-like scrutiny and body shaming that occurs daily under the guise of ‘journalism,’ the ‘First Amendment’ and ‘celebrity news.’ ”
She has a point: Ms. Aniston, 47, has long been used by supermarket tabloids, gossip websites and celebrity magazines as the reductive avatar of the complicated Hollywood It Girl.
First, she was cast as the The Girl Next Door, starring in the megahit sitcom “Friends” and marrying Brad Pitt.
Then she became the Scorned Wife after her divorce (and, later, Mr. Pitt’s marriage to Angelina Jolie) ushered in the feverish “Team Aniston” era, which spanned several years and created an “insane Bermuda Triangle,” as she told GQ in 2008.
And the title of that GQ article, “Lordy, Lordy, This Woman Is 40,” signaled a new era for Ms. Aniston.
She became the Single Aging Woman.
“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 Huffington Post essay. “The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing.”
Ms. Aniston’s marriage to the actor Justin Theroux — whom she wed in 2015 after years of speculative headlines about their relationship — has entered the territory of constant conjecture over whether or not she is pregnant.
As Ms. Aniston puts it, she has “grown tired of being part of this narrative.”
“Here’s where I come out on this topic: We are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child,” she wrote. “We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies.”
The obsession over women and their pregnancies goes far beyond Ms. Aniston: It is ingrained in our culture to “police and survey” women’s bodies, especially pregnant ones, said Amanda Rossie, who researches Women’s and Gender Studies at The College of New Jersey.
“We still see women who choose not to become mothers as flawed,” Ms. Rossie said. “That’s the social contract we’ve all signed.”
Ms. Rossie said that the increased use of social media and blogging, as well as the rise of so-called Bump Watch areas of celebrity gossip websites have led to a frenzy where women are not only consuming celebrity baby news, they’re posting their own bump photos on social media.
“There are more technologies that help us survey these bodies and police these bodies,” Ms. Rossie said, “and in a lot of ways we’re teaching other women and other girls to do this surveillance.”
Ms. Aniston has done traditional publicity, sometimes posing for magazine covers, but she has never willingly participated in the deeper frenzy of the gossip sites. While many celebrities have shared stories of their sex lives, fertility struggles and pregnancies with the world on social media — some have even made money off pregnancy announcements through sponsored content — she has steered clear.
“I think that’s one of our sort of cultural frustrations with her,” Ms. Rossie said. “She has all the trappings to be a wonderful mother, but it’s not a choice that she’s making.”
2. " For the Record " from Huffington Post
Let me start by saying that addressing gossip is something I have never done. I don’t like to give energy to the business of lies, but I wanted to participate in a larger conversation that has already begun and needs to continue. Since I’m not on social media, I decided to put my thoughts here in writing.
For the record, I am not pregnant. What I am is fed up. I’m fed up with the sport-like scrutiny and body shaming that occurs daily under the guise of “journalism,” the “First Amendment” and “celebrity news.”
Every day my husband and I are harassed by dozens of aggressive photographers staked outside our home who will go to shocking lengths to obtain any kind of photo, even if it means endangering us or the unlucky pedestrians who happen to be nearby. But setting aside the public safety aspect, I want to focus on the bigger picture of what this insane tabloid ritual represents to all of us.
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. 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. Sometimes cultural standards just need a different perspective so we can see them for what they really are — a collective acceptance... a subconscious agreement. We are in charge of our agreement. Little girls everywhere are absorbing our agreement, passive or otherwise. And it begins early. The message that girls are not pretty unless they’re incredibly thin, that they’re not worthy of our attention unless they look like a supermodel or an actress on the cover of a magazine is something we’re all willingly buying into. This conditioning is something girls then carry into womanhood. We use celebrity “news” to perpetuate this dehumanizing view of females, focused solely on one’s physical appearance, which tabloids turn into a sporting event of speculation. Is she pregnant? Is she eating too much? Has she let herself go? Is her marriage on the rocks because the camera detects some physical “imperfection”?
The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing.
I used to tell myself that tabloids were like comic books, not to be taken seriously, just a soap opera for people to follow when they need a distraction. But I really can’t tell myself that anymore because the reality is the stalking and objectification I’ve experienced first-hand, going on decades now, reflects the warped way we calculate a woman’s worth.
This past month in particular has illuminated for me how much we define a woman’s value based on her marital and maternal status. 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. In this last boring news cycle about my personal life there have been mass shootings, wildfires, major decisions by the Supreme Court, an upcoming election, and any number of more newsworthy issues that “journalists” could dedicate their resources towards.
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. 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.
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.
I have grown tired of being part of this narrative. Yes, I may become a mother some day, and since I’m laying it all out there, if I ever do, I will be the first to let you know. 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.” Not to mention the painful awkwardness that comes with being congratulated by friends, coworkers and strangers alike on one’s fictional pregnancy (often a dozen times in a single day).
From years of experience, I’ve learned tabloid practices, however dangerous, will not change, at least not any time soon. What can change is our awareness and reaction to the toxic messages buried within these seemingly harmless stories served up as truth and shaping our ideas of who we are. We get to decide how much we buy into what’s being served up, and maybe some day the tabloids will be forced to see the world through a different, more humanized lens because consumers have just stopped buying the bullshit.