Jennifer Aniston has spent decades as the unwilling subject of sleazy tabloid gossip—first over her divorce from Brad Pitt ("will Jen ever find a man?"), then over whether she'd ever marry now-husband Justin Theroux ("what's taking them so long?"), and finally—and most persistently—whether she's pregnant. The last month, tabloids have been particularly aggressive, speculating Aniston is expecting whenever she is photographed covering her lower body. At one point, her rep made it clear: Aniston had just enjoyed a big lunch when one less-flattering bikini shot surfaced. But the baby headlines continued.
The actress won't have it anymore. In a column onHuffington Post, she made that abundantly clear: "For the record, I am not pregnant," she wrote. "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.'"
Because it hurts all women, she continued: "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."
These cultural standards are "a collective acceptance...a subconscious agreement" and particularly harmful to little girls who absorb them. "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," Aniston wrote. "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'?"
Aniston can't pretend the stories are just a harmless soap opera. "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...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."
Aniston then spelled the truth out: "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."
As for the baby rumors? Aniston ended the discussion with this final say: "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.'" The tabloids won't change, but we can: "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."
Read Aniston's full column here.
Follow Marie Claire on Facebook for the latest celeb news, beauty tips, fascinating reads, livestream video, and more.