Our Unyielding Obsession with Jennifer Aniston

Illustration for article titled Our Unyielding Obsession with Jennifer Aniston

If you've been under a rock for the last couple of days, I am here to inform you that we can all calm down now because Jennifer Aniston has finally gotten engaged. If you haven't been under a rock, you have been inundated with hideously titled articles that make me want to cringe. CNN did a photo spread called Jennifer Aniston's Men and USA Today wondered Has Jennifer Finally Found Her Happy Ending? (Those are the only ones I read the headlines of before giving up.)


We have been publicly obsessed with Jennifer Aniston since she got the haircut named for her character Rachel on Friends about 15 years ago (Yes, it has been that long. The show premiered in 1994.) All of the show's stars became huge, but Aniston was the biggest breakout. When she started dating Brad Pitt and they got his-and-hers matching highlights for the wedding, the deal was sealed.

She was pretty, seemingly perfect and had snagged the cutest guy in Hollywood.

We all know how that turned out. Since Brad and Jen broke up and Brangelina was spawned, we have, as a culture, been obsessed with watching Jennifer's love life and waiting for her to find the perfect man. Is this one going to give her the long-desired baby? Will that one hurt her like Brad?

I duly note that people are also incredibly obsessed with George Clooney's love life. But with him, it's always about which young woman he's been showing off and what a great life he has as the single man about town. Don't get me wrong, I admire him and his politics. But there is never an air of desperation in the stories about him. His stories are about freedom.

The stories written about Jennifer Aniston always make it seem like she is just desperate to get married and have a baby.

About the baby obsession: It has really gotten out of control. Kids seem to be another Hollywood accessory of late. Her desperation to get married was always coupled with her desperation for kids. As if an independent woman of means could not have a kid by herself if she wanted one.

Caitlin Moran said it best in a recent interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air. (And by the way, read her book, How to Be a Woman. I just started it and it is great.)


I mean just this week on the cover of Grazia, kind of like the biggest selling women's magazine in the U.K., was yet another picture of Jennifer Aniston with, you know, Jennifer's baby fear. And you know, we've spent 15 years discussing whether this woman is going to have a baby or not. I just think that's so rude. It's just, you know, we don't know what issues she's got. You know, that's totally her decision. The idea that this is like a national debate that we have all the time. You know, is she pregnant? Isn't she pregnant? Does she want a baby? Is she sad? Did she still wish she could have Brad's baby? Is she going to adopt a baby? Is she going to have a baby with this new boyfriend then leave him so she can be a single mother? It's just never been an option for Jennifer Aniston not to have a kid. Imagine if you saw George Clooney on the cover of a magazine every week with, is George broody? Is George going to adopt a baby? When is George going to have another kid? It would just seem weird. We'd seem demented, yet it's totally valid for women.


Jennifer Aniston illustrates a culture that is still so incredibly ambivalent about single women even though the numbers of single women — and single moms — keep growing. So while women are establishing and accepting their independence, at the same moment, the culture is tearing women down because it still really wants to promote marriage and so-called traditional values. As if there are any traditional values anymore.

Only a crazy loon would not wish Jennifer Aniston much happiness in her life. Maybe now that she is on her way to becoming Sadie, Sadie, married lady, people will leave her the hell alone. But I kind of doubt it. I'm guessing the tabloids are already prepping baby bump stories.


This post originally appeared on Women and Hollywood. Republished with permission.


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Only a crazy loon would not wish Jennifer Aniston much happiness in her life.

Truer words could not be spoken. Don't worry, one will drop by any minute now...