This Tuesday (July 12), Jennifer Aniston schooled her pregnancy speculators by writing a brilliant essay for the Huffington Post. Titled "For the Record," Aniston used the opportunity to not only address the gossip directed towards her (a rare move for the famously private star), but also to call out society's larger discourse surrounding women's worth and motherhood.
"For the record, I am not pregnant. What I am is fed up," she wrote. "If I am some kind of symbol to some people out there, then clearly I am an example of the lens through which we, as a society, view our mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, female friends and colleagues. The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing."
Though the "Cake" star has been the subject of is-she-or-isn't-she tabloid fodder for some 15 years now, this essay comes in light of an especially aggressive month's worth of speculation.
"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," she wrote. "We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own 'happily ever after' for ourselves."
As someone who plans to forgo conventional motherhood, the importance of Aniston's essay can't be overstated.
Her words validate something that is true for me and so many other women, but which society still, even in 2016, chooses to ignore — the idea that a woman's innate purpose can lie outside of motherhood. Though I would love to adopt some faraway day (ideally in my 40s), the idea of conventional motherhood — at an "acceptable" age, with biological children — has never held clout for me. To be frank, it terrifies the living crap out of me.
I once dated someone who, at the tender age of 21, wanted me to be able to answer now-right-now whether I wanted kids in the future. He continued to press me with this question, and each time he did, the immediate vision in my mind's eye was the same: Me sitting on a boat in Greece; shopping at a market in Morocco; walking along the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. A feeling of overwhelming panic accompanied each image, and the message was clear.