I live in an expensive Sydney suburb. That’s not a boast. It’s a fact. It’s a fact that’s relevant because I’m frequently told I can’t afford to live there, by people who don’t know anything about me.
“You should be living somewhere a lot cheaper,” they sagely advise me. As if I just moved to the suburb on a whim and have no idea what I’m doing with my life, or my money.
But that’s not true. I can afford it. Not because I come from a wealthy family. Not because my ex-husband pays child support or any other money. But because I’ve earned it.
Why do I need to explain this? Why is this assumption made? Would people say this to a man?
The Uber driver who picks me up and tells me that I could be living an hour away from my job in a less expensive house – he’s assuming I’m not a CEO, or a surgeon, or in some other high-paying field. He’s possibly also assuming he needs to advise me because as a man, he understands money in a way I don’t.
So the implication is that I’m not worthy. I don’t deserve to be there. I shouldn’t be there.
The people who know I’m single – is it so unfathomable to them that I can achieve financial stability without a partner?
In this experience, I feel some kinship with Jennifer Aniston. Imagine being at the top of your game for twenty years, having a financially successful and fulfilling career, and being defined as “unlucky in love”. We don’t hear about whether Aniston’s films have flopped, or exceeded expectations. We don’t examine her involvement in the #MeToo movement, which she gave $500,000 to. But the sensational headlines around Aniston pose questions about what she is doing with her love life, as if her career is not happening.
But it is happening, and it has been happening, regardless of her marital status. There shouldn't be articles about Aniston's incredibly successful career, and her incredible Architectural Digest house, only as her 'saviour' and 'comfort' now that she's 'divorced again' - and 'without children'. Aniston's longevity in a youth-obsessed industry is a testament to her skills, and that should always be the focus of everything we say about her, plus or minus a husband.