photo: Reuters

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

Photos of Aniston and husband Justin Theroux vacationing on a beach in Mexico made the tabloid rounds in June, beginning with an "exclusive" announcement of her "miracle baby" pregnancy from In Touch.

Though the actress's rep immediately denounced the rumors, explaining the pictures were taken after the couple ate a "big lunch," the conjectures have continued. And Aniston is beyond over it. In her Huffington Post essay, she reflected on how much of a woman's value is "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," 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.

What I feel most strongly drawn towards is to see the world independently. Namely, not as a week-long vacation in July when my kids are out of school, but as a dedicated lifestyle.

Yeah, Mexico was pretty alright I suppose. ????????✨

A photo posted by Liv McConnell✨???? (@ohliv_mcc) on

This realization led me to visit the Planned Parenthood in my Tennessean hometown to inquire about having my tubes tied. There, I was told there was only one doctor (incidentally, a female one) in my state who would perform the procedure on someone as young as me. The reason most doctors chose not to perform the surgery on young women, I was told, is that they assume minds will change and, in the end, they'll want to be mothers anyhow. 

This is a perfect example of the kinds of assumptions society makes about women, as pointed out by Aniston. Not only is it condescending for doctors to assume they know what women want better than their own female patients do, it also enforces the narrative that, in the end, most women will want to be mothers, and that motherhood is where women's true potential is found. For my part, I've known since I was five years old that I wanted to be a writer. I've felt for nearly just as long that I will not be fulfilled by conventional motherhood (I chose to stop playing with baby dolls at age 2; that, to me, was the beginning). So how is it that my own feelings about myself and my body can be thus discounted?

Of course, conventional motherhood does make many, many women genuinely fulfilled and happy, and I don't in any way mean to discount their truth. My own selfless-as-hell mother is testament to that. But, like Aniston says, motherhood is a choice. And to forgo it does not mean your experiences and time here on Earth are of lesser value — far from it. 

I know the day will come where my decision to not have kids will be called into deeper scrutiny. As the constant speculation surrounding Aniston illustrates, there is an acutely ingrained discomfort and mistrust in our society toward childless women. When that day comes, I can only hope I'll follow in Aniston's example and respond with her same grace, confidence, and undeniable ability to slay the naysayers. 

Yasss Jen, LIVE your damn truth!