Ever since Jennifer Aniston played runaway bride Rachel Green in Friends, she’s been presented as America’s sweetheart, all the way down to a tabloid and fan obsession with her romantic relationships, fictional pregnancies and plans for the future. In a new interview with Elle magazine, Aniston addressed this obsession with her personal life and got candid about her own thoughts on matters of marriage and family.
“We live in a society that messages women: By this age, you should be married; by this age, you should have children,” Aniston told Elle, before shooting down those ideals. “That’s a fairy tale,” she said. “That’s the mold we’re slowly trying to break out of.”
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Aniston commented that happiness is different for everyone, but furthermore, the concept of a happy ending is outdated. “Why do we want a happy ending? How about just a happy existence? A happy process? We’re all in process constantly,” she said. “What quantifies happiness in someone’s life isn’t the ideal that was created in the ’50s. It’s not like you hear that narrative about any men. That’s part of sexism — it’s always the woman who’s scorned and heartbroken and a spinster. It’s never the opposite.”
Elle noted that Aniston has starred in over 30 movies as well as several television projects, including an upcoming Apple TV series with Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell, which she is also co-producing. She also has several Netflix movies under her belt, including Dumplin’, which hit the streaming service on Friday, as well as the upcoming Murder Mystery with Adam Sandler and the upcoming lesbian rom-com First Ladies with Tig Notaro. Aniston is busy with work; after her split with Justin Theroux, she seems genuinely unconcerned about finding another husband anytime soon.
“I don’t feel a void. I really don’t,” she told Elle. “My marriages, they’ve been very successful, in [my] personal opinion. And when they came to an end, it was a choice that was made because we chose to be happy, and sometimes happiness didn’t exist within that arrangement anymore.”
She added that when people focus solely on her personal life, “you’re diminishing everything I have succeeded at and that I have built and created. It’s such a shallow lens that people look through. It’s the only place to point a finger at me as though it’s my damage — like it’s some sort of a scarlet letter on me that I haven’t yet procreated, or maybe won’t ever procreate.”
Finally, she remarked that a happy ending is “a very romantic idea. It’s a very storybook idea. I understand it, and I think for some people it does work. And it’s powerful and it’s incredible and it’s admirable. Even enviable. But everybody’s path is different.” Certainly, Aniston isn’t the first woman to remark on the double standards for women, especially in Hollywood — but we respect her for speaking her truth and carving her own path, wherever it may take her.