IT’S BEEN MORE THAN TEN YEARS since Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston split and Brangelina rose from the ashes, but media coverage of Aniston’s life and relationships continues to draw on the circumstances surrounding her high-profile breakup. In a recent Huffington Post op-ed, Jennifer Aniston proved she’s all of us, and we need more of it.
There are several interlocking rumors — now practically considered facts — that follow Aniston. One is that Pitt left her for Angelina Jolie because she was infertile. Another is that her life has been considerably less joyous than Pitt’s, because she has had no children, and has been in several relationships over the course of his decade-long partnership with Jolie. Of course, all of these discussions circle back to Pitt in some way, grounding the media’s portrait of Aniston in a marriage she dissolved in 2005.
Aniston, Pitt, and their representatives haven’t always given the most consistent reports about the reasons behind the split. Aniston told Vanity Fair that “she and Pitt had vowed to start a family when [Friends] was finished,” but the couple told the New York Daily News that their split hinged, at least in part, on their disagreement about whether or not to have children.
Despite the couple’s previous assertions that they had agreed to wait until Aniston’s time was up on Friends, news outlets were quick to paint her as a raging feminazi who withheld her procreative powers from Pitt in order to bolster her own career.
Anyone following the story at the time would have been hard-pressed to find a common thread in magazines’ coverage of Aniston’s very public breakup. So which was it? Had she deceived Pitt in some way, making him believe she wanted children in order to secure her relationship with him? Had the couple’s goals diverged somewhere along the line?
In all honesty, it doesn’t matter. Arguments over whether or not one party misled the other about their fertility or desire to have children haven’t been viable since Aniston and Pitt’s divorce proceedings ended, because that’s the last time those disagreements could have impacted the couple. There are near-infinite versions of how children — or the lack thereof — could have contributed to Aniston and Pitt’s decision to divorce, and not one of them matters today.
The problem is, no one has told that to the tabloids. For 15 years, Aniston has been perpetually pregnant, according to tabloid reports. Over the last decade, more people have wondered if Aniston is expecting than if we are at war. If she has a big lunch, gains a few pounds, or stands at a funny angle, you’re bound to see reports of her 40-plus fertility. After nearly two decades of speculation, everyone wants to be the outlet to break the Jennifer Aniston pregnancy story.
And Aniston, understandably, is done with the entire ordeal. From her Huffington Post article:
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).
What Aniston doesn’t mention — what she, for many reasons, can’t mention — is whether she has had any fertility struggles over the years. How much more painful must the media coverage of her life be, if she has dealt with the losses of wanted pregnancies?
We all have that one moment we aren’t able to live down, and most of us have an unfortunate former relationship that people love to truck out whenever they feel like putting us down. For Aniston, a relatively short relationship, and the circumstances under which it ended in 2005, have become her defining moment, at least in the eyes of the public.
For those of us who remain childless by choice — regardless of the unique situations that have led to that decision — Aniston’s story has particular resonance. We’re constantly asked when we’ll take the motherhood plunge, even if we, unlike Aniston, have already ruled out children as an option.
Jennifer Aniston is all of us, facing a small-town, petty kind of gossip that has spread across the U.S. Now, after years of silence, she’s flipped the bird that rumor mill patrons deserve. All hail Jennifer Aniston, Our Lady of Sass.