For the past two decades, Jennifer Aniston, her tumultuous love life, and her lack of children have been repeatedly plastered across the covers of grocery store tabloid magazines, leaving those who read the headlines either shaking their heads at “poor Jen” or wondering if, more than 13 years after their divorce and against all hard evidence to the contrary, she and Brad Pitt are really expecting a baby (they’re not). Aniston has repeatedly fired back at this beloved national pastime, most recently in her cover interview for the January 2019 issue of Elle, in which she maintained that she’s perfectly happy without a husband or children, but didn’t necessarily rule out either from her future.
“We live in a society that messages women: By this age, you should be married; by this age, you should have children…That’s a fairy tale. That’s the mold we’re slowly trying to break out of,” Aniston, who announced her divorce from Justin Theroux in February of this year, 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.”
All this focus on her personal life, she said, “[diminishes] everything I have succeeded at, and that I have built and created.” She explained, “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.” And though she finds the idea of motherhood “quite honestly, kind of frightening,” she’s still open to it. “Who knows what the future holds in terms of a child and a partnership—how that child comes in…or doesn’t? And now with science and miracles, we can do things at different times than we used to be able to,” she said.
But if she does choose to have kids or remarry, it won’t be to fill any kind of “void,” Aniston said. “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. Sure, there were bumps, and not every moment felt fantastic, obviously, but at the end of it, this is our one life and I would not stay in a situation out of fear. Fear of being alone. Fear of not being able to survive. To stay in a marriage based on fear feels like you’re doing your one life a disservice,” she continued. “When the work has been put in and it doesn’t seem that there’s an option of it working, that’s OK. That’s not a failure. We have these clichés around all of this that need to be reworked and retooled, you know? Because it’s very narrow-minded thinking.”