Jennifer Aniston has never been one to respond to media speculation about her life. Now that she has, I am really disappointed.
Recent pregnancy speculation has pushed her to write an op-ed for Huffington Post called “For The Record” in which she describes herself as “fed up”.
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.”
She says society has unjust standards for women when it comes to being perceived as being happy and successful, lamenting the fact that women aren’t seen as truly happy or successful unless they are married with kids.
What I was expecting was a heartfelt exploration of this, a deep discussion about why women are still judged so differently from men.
Instead, she laid most of the blame on media organisations and the paparazzi, which led to a segue into what, to me, is extremely misdirected blame for unhealthy body image
A very unfortunate and extraordinarily hypocritical segue.
This week on the Mamamia Out Loud Podcast, Monique, Kate and Mia talked about Jennifer Aniston’s op-ed with Kate suggesting she is just “playing the game”.
Jennifer Aniston famously transformed herself from a curvy, brunette character actress into a blonde super-skinny actress who eventually scored her breakthrough role as Rachel in hit nineties TV show Friends.
During early interviews with the evil media outlets that she blames for causing body image issues in women, she openly discussed her transformation, pointed to her Greek heritage as being responsible for being more “rounded” than she likes and mentioned a low-carb diet, which millions of teenagers and young women, including myself, then attempted.
It was never quite clear if it was Atkins or The Zone diet that she initially followed, but that didn’t matter, I simply switched between the two depending on what the media claimed it was, like the hoards of my fellow Aniston fans also did at the time.
Not once did Jennifer Aniston attempt to address the unfairness of it all. Her ability to diet herself into a waif-like body was seen as a success.
If it wasn’t for that, she wouldn’t be as rich and as famous as she is.
Because of this, I find the hypocrisy with which she tries to blame the media and the paparazzi for the body image issues of girls, teens and women around the world breathtaking.
She has spent her entire career conforming to that standard.
She talks about eating carefully, exercising, dieting for particular roles and has clearly had a few procedures performed on her face aimed and maintaining her youthful looks.
And there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of that.
Except for the fact that she doesn't seem to understand that she is part of the problem.
She is lashing out at the machine that made her.
After lamenting society's unjust standards for women and "how much we define a woman’s value based on her marital and maternal status", she said the media and paparazzi make her 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.”
Jennifer Aniston spoke to Ellen about her upcoming marriage to fiance Justin Theroux. Article continues after this video.
Fair enough. The pregnancy claims are inaccurate and no one likes to be called fat.
But surely, when you get to Aniston's level of fame, being called 'fat' is water off a duck's back.
With personal training and personal chefs at her fingertips, weight management is genuinely something Aniston has, realistically, never had to worry about.
As for the Hollywood executives who have cast her in their next movie believing she may have put on weight, surely she is famous enough to get away with a few extra kilos.
If Jennifer Aniston, and actresses like her, want to do something to address the ridiculous physical standards women are endlessly presented with, she'd be better off using her fame and power to represent a more natural body image, because she has openly admitted that being super thin doesn't come naturally for her.
The fact is, the media and paparazzi also helped to build her career.
I don't recall Jennifer Aniston ever explaining just how much effort it takes to look the way she does.
She's not once pointed out the unfairness of it all, letting everyone believe her body is effortless, her exercise routine relaxed, her tan natural and her body image healthy.
If she had spoken out about that at some point, she would be doing so much for women everywhere.
Her entire spiel about women and body image is hypercritical to the extreme:
The way I am portrayed by the media is simply a reflection of how we see and portray women in general, measured against some warped standard of beauty. Sometimes cultural standards just need a different perspective so we can see them for what they really are — a collective acceptance... a subconscious agreement. We are in charge of our agreement. Little girls everywhere are absorbing our agreement, passive or otherwise. And it begins early. The message that girls are not pretty unless they’re incredibly thin, that they’re not worthy of our attention unless they look like a supermodel or an actress on the cover of a magazine is something we’re all willingly buying into. This conditioning is something girls then carry into womanhood. We use celebrity “news” to perpetuate this dehumanizing view of females, focused solely on one’s physical appearance, which tabloids turn into a sporting event of speculation.
But that fact is, Aniston did participate in the perpetuation of that "warped standard of beauty".
Sure, she does the occasional indie movie in which she allows herself to look less-than-perfect, such as her amazing work in the movie Cake.
However, most of the time we see her looking something like this:
She is right about one thing. What she does with her body is her choice.
But she can't pretend she's not a public figure who never dares to look anything but flawless, with the facade that her amazing looks are easy to maintain.
She is no longer the dark-haired, "curvy" Greek girl who transformed herself to fit into Hollywood's standard of beauty in order to make her dream of becoming a successful actress come true.
Now she is a skinny, ageless actress who seems to have completely lost touch with reality and sadly feels as though she can never relax her physical standards in case she loses her next movie role.
Jennifer Aniston is one of the most photographed actresses in the world and always looks red-carpet ready.
Because that's what happens. All it takes is one unflattering photo and actresses can find themselves placed on a strict diet or replaced.
Why hasn't she discussed that?
Why hasn't she put some of the blame on the heads of the movie and TV studios, who do more than the media and the paparazzi combined to continue to promote unattainable body types?
Could it be that they are the hands that feed her and she doesn't want to risk pissing them off?
I began watching Jennifer Aniston on TV show Friends in my late teens and have continued to be a huge fan of her work through my twenties, thirties and now forties.
The message that was sent to me by her has always been clear: Here's what can happen when you transform yourself to fit someone's ideal of beauty.
You too can be rich and happy and success. Just lose weight and keep it off, get your teeth whitened, dye your hair and don't age.
Don't you dare age.
Jennifer Aniston has missed an important opportunity to truly address the real cause of unhealthy and unrealistic body image aspirations of girls, teens and women.
It's a cop out, and I wanted more from her.