11.21.08

My Love Affair With The Aniston

Ever since I saw her dorky high school photo, I have been crushing—hard.

For years, Brangelina claimed that nothing happened between them until Brad was separated. This has always struck me as a transparent lie, but one the world has mostly agreed to maintain for the sake of everyone’s dignity, akin to the common practice of saying “restroom” instead of “shitcorner.” Cut to: this month’s Vogue, in which Aniston—questioned about a remark Jolie made in The New York Times about falling in love with Brad while Brad and Jen were still very much married—gave a brief response ending in these four definitive words: “That was really uncool.”

Bang. They landed on the cover. This was the tabloid world’s version of Martin Luther nailing his letter to the door of that church in Wittenberg. Cue hysteria, washing over the pop culture landscape in a tidal wave of gossip rags shouting their headlines. From Star: FURIOUS BRAD: SHUT UP JEN. From Us Weekly: HOW ANGELINA TORTURES JEN. And In Touch: JEN, I’M SORRY (that’s supposed to be Brad talking). Online, readers have thrown their opinions into the usual piles. There are those who still say Aniston needs to “get over it,” still call her ugly, or simply tell her, in the words of one internet based poet, “Shut up!”

The Aniston is funny, in that way that people learn to be when late blooming beauty makes personality a necessity rather than a choice.

But then there are those like me. It pains me to use this terminology, but here goes: I’m Team Aniston. Big time. My friends and I don’t refer to her as Jennifer. Or Jen. Or even as Aniston. In our hearts, her celebrity signifies something at the nexus of beauty, heartbreak, surviving… hair… tans... So to us, aware that we don’t know the person, this persona we’re obsessed with is dubbed The Aniston. As in, “Ohmigod, did you see The Aniston on Oprah yet?” or, “I’m gonna stay in tonight, Vogue just hit the stands and The Aniston’s on the cover.” Or, “I agree with The Aniston, Jolie’s comment was very uncool. I'm not a Jolie hater at all. I respect her and sometimes even like her. But it’s just not the same as with The Aniston. Or, I agree with The Aniston, Jolie’s comment was very uncool. (That’s not a quote, that’s just me writing that now.)

Why do I, and so many other women, see her as our Girl Crush, our imaginary (big capital F) Friend? For starters, there’s her high school picture. It looks kind of like my high school picture. Not in the sense of a resemblance, but just in the sense that she had an adolescence at all, complete with big eyebrows, baby fat, and visible insecurity. High school pictures of Angelina Jolie look like pictures of current day Angelina Jolie. (I don’t believe she was ever younger than fourteen.) I think Jolie and The Aniston are both beautiful, but they’re obviously different kinds of beautiful. Jolie’s looks are the visual equivalent of a trust fund. The Aniston is a naturally pretty girl, but like most of us, she amps it up though hard work. (And before some of you start screaming at me that she’s had a nose job, I’m gonna go out on a limb and include plastic surgery under the hard work label. She paid for it with her own hard earned cash, after all.)

The Aniston is funny, in that way that people learn to be when late blooming beauty makes personality a necessity rather than a choice. The Aniston has an appealing vulnerability. People make fun of her for only pretending to be over Brad, to which I say, good for her! I don’t know any of these people, but I’m still not over it. I like that The Aniston spent the first three years after her breakup walking around wrapped in a giant pashmina security blanket.

When I see Jolie in a magazine, I run out to buy it and then feel vaguely depressed. It’s like staring at the sun: I’m compelled to try it, but it always burns. As my therapist would say, she makes me feel “less than.” When I see The Aniston in a magazine, I run out to buy it and feel slightly better. Her Vogue photo shoot was yet another enjoyable example of accessible beauty secrets. I’ll never have Jolie’s lips, but I could wear a tight striped sweater that shows off my boobs (p307)! I’ll never have Jolie’s giraffe limbs, but I could find an afternoon sun patch and play with my hair like I don’t even know I’m doing it (p311). I’ll never have sex with Brad Pitt, but I could sit next to a cute terrier mix and kind of laugh-smile while I think about what it’s like—or in her case, remember what it’s like (p314). And as for this bikini (p 315)—well, I’m not sure I could look like that.

Jessi Klein is a writer and comedian who has frequently appeared on Comedy Central, CNN, VH1, and the Today show. She is currently writing a screenplay for Universal Studios, as well as occasionally drawing animals for her best friend’s letterpress card company. She also likes to think she has value as a human being aside from her numerous credits in the entertainment industry.

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