It's the sound of the Internet erupting in applause for Jennifer Aniston.
We may be projecting, but we don't think there can be any other possible sane reaction to the essay that just went up on Huffington Post, penned by the actress herself in what she acknowledges is a move that is most unlike her!
The reason she just did something so out of character—i.e. responded to the rumour that has plagued her for years and commented upon the damage that such objectification does to womankind in general—being that she's mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.
First up: Those pernicious pregnancy reports and the tabloids that persist in running them.
"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."
Last month, pics taken of Aniston—who earlier this year was People's Most Beautiful issue cover girl—and husband Justin Theroux on vacation made a splash because...well, news flash, the actress had eaten lunch and then walked around in a bikini, thinking perchance she might have been able to not look like she had just finished a nine-mile run (immaculate gym body being her go-to look).
"This past month in particular has illuminated for me how much we define a woman's value based on her marital and maternal status," she continued later in the post. "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. In this last boring news cycle about my personal life there have been mass shootings, wildfires, major decisions by the Supreme Court, an upcoming election, and any number of more newsworthy issues that 'journalists' could dedicate their resources towards.
"Here's where I come out on this topic: we are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies. That decision is ours and ours alone. Let's make that decision for ourselves and for the young women in this world who look to us as examples. Let's make that decision consciously, outside of the tabloid noise. We don't need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own 'happily ever after' for ourselves."
Aniston is going to try, anyway.
"I have grown tired of being part of this narrative. Yes, I may become a mother someday, and since I'm laying it all out there, if I ever do, I will be the first to let you know. But I'm not in pursuit of motherhood because I feel incomplete in some way, as our celebrity news culture would lead us all to believe. I resent being made to 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.' Not to mention the painful awkwardness that comes with being congratulated by friends, co-workers and strangers alike on one's fictional pregnancy (often a dozen times in a single day)."
Aniston and Theroux will be celebrating their first wedding anniversary next month, their quiet nuptials last August finally putting a stop, more or less, to the years the actress had spent being the scorned ex-wife of Brad Pitt—multiple relationships and her anyone-would-be-thrilled-for-1-percent-of-her-success level of success not having done enough to make her seem less lovelorn.
Though the Friends sweetheart turned movie star always seemed to keep a sense of humour about the obsession with her post-split life, her post-split life lasting almost a decade, it turns out it did bother her. Just a bit. You know, like when she went outside or used technology. As it would haunt any person in her right mind, because that level of scrutiny has rarely been matched.
Which brings us to her next two main points of contention: the constant (and sometimes even dangerous) paparazzi presence and the obsession with what her face and body look like from every angle.
"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," Aniston continued. "The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing. 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."
Aniston goes on to nail those to the wall who would tie in a woman's appearance with the state of the rest of her life.
"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," she wrote. "Is she pregnant? Is she eating too much? Has she let herself go? Is her marriage on the rocks because the camera detects some physical 'imperfection'?"
"I used to tell myself that tabloids were like comic books, not to be taken seriously, just a soap opera for people to follow when they need a distraction. But I really can't tell myself that anymore because the reality is the stalking and objectification I've experienced first-hand, going on decades now, reflects the warped way we calculate a woman's worth."
Not coincidentally, Aniston's essay comes on the heels of a particularly archaic couple of weeks, in which Renée Zellweger was called out—in Variety!—for looking different than she used to; a Vanity Fair cover story profile on Margot Robbie came off more like a mash note; and a Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic wrote a bizarre piece in The New York Times that turned both Blake Lively and Kate Hudson into pretty faces with nothing behind them.
And while Aniston had every reason in the world to write this essay based solely on her own experiences, let alone those affecting her fellow women, it appears that she has picked up on this disheartening trend of human beings being dissected for parts in the media.
Body-shaming, single-shaming, childless-woman-shaming... Aniston has scarily experienced all of the shaming, and she doesn't even have social media. (Hence her writing a guest blog in the first place.) But is this an indicator that she wants to play more of a role in shaping her own message?
"From years of experience, I've learned tabloid practices, however dangerous, will not change, at least not any time soon," she concluded her on-point treatise. "What can change is our awareness and reaction to the toxic messages buried within these seemingly harmless stories served up as truth and shaping our ideas of who we are. We get to decide how much we buy into what's being served up, and maybe some day the tabloids will be forced to see the world through a different, more humanized lens because consumers have just stopped buying the bulls--t."
This A-list perspective, the biggest slam yet from a normally very private Hollywood insider, may be just what those who still don't get it needed to hear—and here's hoping Jennifer Aniston's gentler-than-it-needed-to-be nudge shakes something loose.