Not all women are mothers, and whether, when, how and why a woman decides if she’s going to become one is her business, as Jennifer Aniston just pointed out in a new interview with InStyle.
The Friends star, who recently split with ex-husband Justin Theroux, has seen speculation about her relationships, reproduction, and her state of mind related to the two splashed across magazine covers for decades now.
Much has been written about Aniston’s status as a woman who, at 49 years old, does not have kids, but Aniston says that contrary to 20 years worth of tabloid headlines, she’s neither desperate for a baby or too selfish to have one. The truth is she’s “not heartbroken,” but she is angry that the “too selfish” for motherhood narrative got any traction.
“No one knows what’s going on behind closed doors. No one considers how sensitive that might be for my partner and me. They don’t know what I’ve been through medically or emotionally. There is a pressure on women to be mothers, and if they are not, then they’re deemed damaged goods,” Aniston told her friend and interviewer Molly McNearney, a mom of two herself, who shares her children with Jimmy Kimmel.
“The misconceptions are ‘Jen can’t keep a man,’ and ‘Jen refuses to have a baby because she’s selfish and committed to her career.’ Or that I’m sad and heartbroken. First, with all due respect, I’m not heartbroken.”
This isn’t the first time Aniston has talked about how the discussion over her status as a woman without kids is hurtful. “This continually is said about me: that I was so career-driven and focused on myself; that I don’t want to be a mother, and how selfish that is…Even saying it gets me a little tight in my throat,” she told Allure back in 2014.
Four years later, the star tells McNearney the idea that she’s damaged because she didn’t have children is just plain sexism. “When was the last time you read about a divorced, childless man referred to as a spinster?” she asked.
Aniston’s comments aren’t meant as a slight to mothers—she was speaking to one and some of her best friends are moms—but were meant to highlight a double standard that needs to end.
As fellow Hollywood heavyweight Gabrielle Union has previously pointed out, public questions about whether someone wants kids or is going to have kids can be so hard when that person is privately going through IVF or other medical issues.
Aniston’s comments highlight something really important: Not all women become mothers and that is perfectly okay. There are a multitude of reasons why a woman may choose not to have a child, and they really are her business.
Not having kids doesn’t mean a woman doesn’t like kids, or that she’s selfish, or that there is anything wrong with her at all. And while it is a heartbreaking experience for some, it doesn’t mean she’s heartbroken. Aniston is proving that.