Earlier this year, Jennifer Aniston published an op-ed on The Huffington Post that took the paparazzi and tabloid culture to task for years of body-shaming her and celebrities like her. As she told Ellen DeGeneres on Wednesday, she didn’t initially intend for anyone to read it.
“I did it at first really for myself just to sort of—you know, how we write and don’t necessarily send it? Or at least since I was a kid I did that,” Aniston said, telling DeGeneres that she had “hit a wall” and was feeling “pretty raw” at the time. She had just returned from a vacation after the passing of her mother and the first thing she saw when she got back was yet another “wonderful photograph” in a magazine that circled her stomach in a “disgustingly objectifying way.”
“I was just fed up with it,” she continued. “And I think these tabloids, all of us, need to take responsibility on what we ingest into our brains. Just because we are women, we have a uterus, we have a vagina, we have ovaries, we need to like, ‘Get to work, lady!’” Instead she added, “We, as women, do a lot of incredible things in this world other than just procreate—and not that that is not. But it’s like, we just get boxed in.”
Aniston seemed particularly shocked that many of “these horrible articles” about her in “these B.S. tabloids” are written by women. “We have to stop listening to them and we have to stop buying them because we have to support each other, especially at this time, to love each other, to support, and to be proud of women, of whatever your choice is in life,” she said. “It’s up to us what makes us happy and fulfilled."
In her July blog post, Aniston wrote, “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.’”
Aniston has appeared in a number of high-profile movies in the 12 years since her decade-long run as Rachel Green on Friends. But the tabloid obsession with her dates back to her five-year marriage to Brad Pitt in the early 2000s. Gossip and speculation about that marriage was given new life this year when Pitt and Angelina Jolie announced their separation.
“There’s an endless appetite for trash, apparently, though everyone would say that they don’t have that appetite,” Aniston’s current husband, actor Justin Theroux, told Vanity Fair in September about the tabloid fascination with his wife. “But I think a lot of people do because people buy it. But there are bigger things to bitch about. It’s shocking how much bandwidth things can take up when there are far more important things going on in the world.”
Both in her op-ed and on Ellen today, Aniston was under no illusions that her condemnation of the tabloid culture would bring about its demise. Instead, she has said that she wants to raise awareness about how damaging the “seemingly harmless” stories can be. “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 bullshit,” she wrote.
Celebrities don’t always make the most sympathetic victims, but it’s hard to justify why starring on a hit sitcom should lead to a life of stalker-level scrutiny.