How many f-bombs do you think Jennifer Aniston had to edit out of her scathing new essay? She could've written this missive 100 times over in the past 20 years -- starting with her marriage to Brad Pitt and especially after he left her for Angelina Jolie -- during which she has kept the lights on for tabloids across the country.
It's an empowering open letter, imploring women to stop "buying the bullsh-t," including the narrative that we need to be married or mothers to be complete. It seems to be triggered by the latest round of pregnancy rumors, launched -- as usual -- by strangers getting close-up photos of her stomach and deciding the bump must mean she is pregnant. Or she just has a belly from being a human being with a belly. Either way, it'll sell as either "pregnant" or "fat," so they sell it. And she's fed up about it.
Here's a section of Aniston's Huffington Post blog, titled "For the Record":
Let me start by saying that addressing gossip is something I have never done. I don't like to give energy to the business of lies, but I wanted to participate in a larger conversation that has already begun and needs to continue. Since I'm not on social media, I decided to put my thoughts here in writing.
For the record, I am not pregnant. 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."
Every day my husband and I are harassed by dozens of aggressive photographers staked outside our home who will go to shocking lengths to obtain any kind of photo, even if it means endangering us or the unlucky pedestrians who happen to be nearby. But setting aside the public safety aspect, I want to focus on the bigger picture of what this insane tabloid ritual represents to all of us.
[...] This past month in particular has illuminated for me how much we define a woman's value based on her marital and maternal status. 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. In this last boring news cycle about my personal life there have been mass shootings, wildfires, major decisions by the Supreme Court, an upcoming election, and any number of more newsworthy issues that "journalists" could dedicate their resources towards.
Here's where I come out on this topic: 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.
[...] 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).
She has more to say, but acknowledges toward the end of the blog that the tabloid cycle of paparazzi stalking and false stories will never stop, unless readers stop supporting it. 'Cause if there wasn't a market for Jennifer Aniston gossip it would've ended a long time ago. Frankly, you wouldn't even be reading this much about her.
Here's how she ended the piece:
From years of experience, I've learned tabloid practices, however dangerous, will not change, at least not any time soon. What can change is our awareness and reaction to the toxic messages buried within these seemingly harmless stories served up as truth and shaping our ideas of who we are. 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.
Good for her. Genuinely. This kind of authenticity is always refreshing, especially from someone who is usually so guarded about her true thoughts. But now what?
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