She's pushing back for herself and for others against societal expectations.
For more than two decades, Jennifer Aniston's love life has been a mainstay of gossip magazines — and she is sooo not having it anymore.
In an essay published at the Huffington Post, the 47-year-old actress fired back at members of the press who've intruded into her life all these years with rumors about hook-ups, break-ups, secret marriages, and babies splashed across their front pages.
"Let me start by saying that addressing gossip is something I have never done," she begins. "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."
"For the record, I am not pregnant. What I am is fed up."
And really, who can blame her? Looking back at how every relationship she's been in since beginning her acting career has been dissected and become the subject of speculation has got to be exhausting, plain and simple.
From her marriage to Brad Pitt (2000-05) to her relationships with Vince Vaughn (2005-06) and John Mayer (2008-09) to her relationship and eventual marriage to Justin Theroux (2011-present), Aniston's dating life is treated as some sort of highly scrutinized public record. It's ridiculous.
What's even worse: These stories aren't even accurate.
InTouch Weekly has made a number of false claims about Aniston's love life. In 2012, the magazine claimed she was pregnant (she wasn't). In just the past month, the outlet has published seven (yes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) stories saying the same thing. For more on the constant tabloid speculation, check out this list Upworthy put together in 2014.
What's with the obsession?
In 2014, Aniston addressed the barrage of pregnancy rumors, explaining that her worth as a woman is not tied to whether she has kids.
In an interview on the "Today" show, Aniston dismissed the idea that there's some universal checklist women need to meet. Society's expectations are unfair, and she wasn't going to play that game anymore.
"It is always such an issue of, 'Are you married yet?' or 'Did you have your babies yet?' It's just constant," she told Carson Daly in the interview. "I don't have this sort of checklist of things that have to be done, and if they're not checked then I've failed some part of my feminism, or my being a woman, or my worth or my value as a woman, because I haven't birthed a child. I've birthed a lot of things, and I feel like I've mothered many things. I don't think it's fair to put that pressure on people."
These expectations, created by society and the media, affect all of us, not just Hollywood celebrities.
The message being pushed and upheld — that women are only "complete" if they marry and have children — is toxic.
A woman who is single without children at age 50 is just as valid as a married 25-year-old with three kids, who is just as valid as an 18-year-old single mom.
There is no one right way to be a woman. That's the very core of feminism.
"We are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child," writes Aniston at Huffington Post, echoing what she told Daly over a year ago.
"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."
You are complete, just as you are.