Throughout her career, Jennifer Aniston has been dogged by ruthless media speculation that she was trying to or had recently become pregnant. Headlines proclaiming “BABY FOR JEN” would appear like clockwork, pointing out supposed baby bumps to match. Aniston has been quite candid about how she’s felt about it all, repeatedly decrying tabloids and their unrelenting scrutiny. But in a new Allure profile, the actor finally revealed that the rumors hit close to home: “I was trying to get pregnant,” she said. “It was a challenging road for me, the baby-making road.”
As it turns out, the media’s eternal baby guessing game—which spanned Aniston’s 30s and 40s—came when she was actively trying to conceive. “All the years and years and years of speculation... It was really hard. I was going through IVF, drinking Chinese teas, you name it,” the 53-year-old said. “I was throwing everything at it.
She added, “I would’ve given anything if someone had said to me, ‘Freeze your eggs. Do yourself a favor.’ You just don’t think it.” (Freezing eggs has become much more commonplace since the rumors about Aniston first began. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine called the process “experimental” until 2012.)
Understandably, all of Aniston’s “trying” took place away from the public eye. Because much of our culture still balks at the idea of a woman of childbearing age having no kids, the media drew some pretty cruel and stupid conclusions about Aniston’s baby-less state, painting a “narrative that [she] was just selfish.” She said that, to onlookers and outsiders, it looked like “I just cared about my career. And God forbid a woman is successful and doesn’t have a child. And the reason my husband left me, why we broke up and ended our marriage, was because I wouldn’t give him a kid. It was absolute lies. I don’t have anything to hide at this point.”
We know that Aniston is absolutely right: If it were the case that she wanted to prioritize her career, and the pursuit of that left out the prospect of children, there wouldn’t be anything wrong with that.
“This past month in particular has illuminated for me how much we define a woman’s value based on her marital and maternal status,” she wrote in a 2016 HuffPost op-ed during a particularly brutal news cycle. “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.”
But this speculation and these bizarre accusations actually twisted the knife for someone who did want to have children but was struggling with infertility—yet another stigma entirely. Aniston admitted to The Hollywood Reporter last year that she took personally the insults that she was selfish and only cared about her career, describing them as “really hurtful and just nasty.” “It’s like, ‘You have no clue what’s going with me personally, medically, why I can’t … can I have kids?,’” she told THR.
Now, The Morning Show star says she’s made peace with a life without children: “Here I am today. The ship has sailed.” But that accepting perspective doesn’t undo the decades of relentless judgment she received.