It must be Groundhog Day in June, because today I woke up to news articles claiming that Jennifer Aniston is pregnant. Again!
For more than a decade the media has put forth “Jennifer Aniston is pregnant” headlines, in one form or another. In reality that number is closer to 15+ years of this ongoing “story” when you consider it started around the time of her marriage to Brad Pitt, which took place in 2000 (side note: tell me THAT doesn’t make you feel old!).
If Aniston pays her publicist Steven Huvane by the denial I’m guessing he could have retired several times over thanks to this story, which is really just a rumor that gets regurgitated every few months to a year. After her divorce from Pitt it continued to plague her through each relationship she’s been in. And even when she wasn’t dating anyone it raged on, only pivoting slightly to include a revised angle focusing on her alleged quest to be a single mother.
It seems America won’t rest until it’s favorite Friend becomes a mom. And this is not okay, in my opinion.
Look, I get it. Aniston is widely considered one of America’s Sweethearts. People love her, they support her, they want to see her happy. But why can’t her current life be enough, and absolute, without a baby?
It blows my mind that in 2016 a woman’s worth and happiness is still measured by her ability — or lack thereof — to breed. As Aniston herself told Allure magazine in January 2015, “I don’t like [the pressure] that people put on me, on women — that you’ve failed yourself as a female because you haven’t procreated,” she said. “I don’t think it’s fair. You may not have a child come out of your vagina, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t mothering — dogs, friends, friends’ children.”
Maybe I am more sympathetic and equally enraged on her behalf because I personally dealt with this invasive line of pregnancy questioning, albeit on a much smaller scale and without the global media focus on my uterus. I was married at 39-years-old, and within hours of returning from our honeymoon the “are you pregnant yet?” questions began pouring in. For months after my wedding I would notice all eyes on me when my drink order was taken (“she ordered a glass of wine, she’s obviously not pregnant”), or to see how I would react when a plate of soft cheese was within my reach. I was outright asked about our desires to start a family (which is okay within reason), even questioned if I was tracking my ovulation (which is not okay, ever).
And, to put it mildly, it sucked. We were trying. We did want a baby. But we didn’t know if it would be possible, and each question, especially the ones that were posed as a joke (“you two better hurry up if you want a baby before it’s too late!”) were like a dagger to my heart. Now take that and multiply it by a million and you are scratching the surface of what Jennifer Aniston endures.
I don’t know that she wants or did want a child. She may not have, and that is perfectly fine. But to insinuate that she is any less of a woman, or that her accomplishments will never measure up until her uterus is rented out to a tiny tenant for 40 weeks, is wrong. And mean.
Aniston herself echoed this sentiment when she told the “Today” show, that she resented the idea that she had “failed” some part of her feminism because she hadn’t birthed a child. “I’ve birthed a lot of things and I feel like I’ve mothered many things,” she explained. Isn’t that enough?
Oh, and let’s touch on the possibility that she may indeed be pregnant… we STILL need to leave her alone! It is a woman’s right to decide if, or when, she makes that news public. And, speaking as an older, pregnant woman (or as society like to call me, an expecting mother of “advanced maternal age”), this would be a high-risk pregnancy and the health and safety of her and her baby is paramount. She could possibly be pregnant and maybe she doesn’t want to share the news until her baby is safely in her arms. Who are we to force her into sharing the news to feed the public’s insatiable curiosity?
And finally, let’s address what sparked this latest round of gossip: a photo of Aniston on vacation with her husband Justin Theroux where she was wearing a bikini and sporting what appeared to be an “obvious baby bump.” Really?
Before I was pregnant my belly looked different every day. To be honest, it could look different by the hour, depending on what I ate or drank. And when I finally did become pregnant I was so sick that in the first 20 weeks I had only gained 4 lbs., and unless I was wearing skintight spandex my actual baby bump was questionable. In short, we have no idea what is happening within a woman’s body and it no one has the right to assume things, or make definitive statements on her behalf.
Doesn’t this speculation fall within the range of body shaming? Her belly looks distended, she must be pregnant! What makes that different from saying, her belly looks distended, she must have gotten fat! Because pregnancy is considered good and gaining weight is though to be bad? Who decided this?
I wonder when this will end for Aniston, if ever. She is now 47-years-old, and even the caveat of her “advanced maternal age” will need to give way at some point. When she is 50? 60? And then will the headline be about her adoption plans? Or perhaps it will morph into stories about her regret over never having children. I am guessing some variation of this theme will follow her indefinitely. Sadly so, in my opinion.
She is a successful woman who does not have children. And that is more than enough. Let’s leave her and her uterus alone to do what SHE wants, shall we?