THE STAR RECKONS LIFE ONLY GETS BETTER WITH AGE
Jennifer Aniston strikes back
Turning 50 doesn’t faze Jennifer Aniston. The Friends star reaches the milestone birthday next month and is not only accepting of the fact she’s entering her sixth decade, she’s actually looking forward to it!
“I don’t think life stops after 50. If anything, it gets more exciting,” says Jennifer, who hits half a century on February 11. “For some reason, we don’t honour or pay respect to ageing. It’s something we look at as a negative and yet every single person on this planet does it.”
She will mark the occasion but she’s not revealing how just yet – although TV star Ellen DeGeneres has offered to host a party. “I always love celebrating these sorts of milestones,” Jennifer says. “I think they’re worth celebrating and not shying away from, even though they offer up their own sort of contemplaton of, ‘Where have I been?’, ‘What have I done?’ and ‘What do I still have left to do?’”
Jennifer doesn’t understand why people don’t embrace getting older, and “why there’s some sort of expiration date on who you are as a person worth watching and a story being told about you”.
The world has been watching since she first graced screens as Friends’ Rachel Green in 1994 and there have been thousands of stories told about her since – not all of them to her liking. The obsession with her love life – in particular her marriages to actors Brad Pitt and Justin Theroux – and the fact she hasn’t had kids rankles.
The focus on her marital and motherhood status, or lack of it, is “diminishing everything I have succeeded at, that I have built and created,” Jennifer points out in a candid interview. “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 scarlet letter on me that I haven’t yet procreated or maybe won’t ever procreate.
“Everyone’s path is different, and it’s time to stop telling women what they should and shouldn’t be doing.
“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 mould we are slowly trying to break out of. Some people are just built to be wives and have babies. I don’t know how naturally that comes to me.”
But never say never.
“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 says.
She’d also like to see people change their definition of what a successful marriage is. Although both of hers ended in divorce, they were still successful, “in my personal opinion,” she says. “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 wouldn’t stay in a situation out of fear –
fear of being alone, of not being able to survive. To stay in a marriage based on fear feels like you’re doing your one life a disservice.
“When the work has been put in and it doesn’t seem that there’s an option of it working, that’s okay. That’s not a failure. We have clichés around this that need to be reworked and retooled. Because it’s very narrow-minded thinking.”
Jennifer has also spoken frankly about her relationship with her mother, actress and model Nancy Dow. The two were estranged for many years, which Jennifer says was a result of a “challenging upbringing”.
Currently winning praise for her role as a critical mum in the film Dumplin’, Jennifer tells how Nancy
– a single mum after her actor husband
John Aniston left when Jennifer was nine – was very focused on looks.
“She was from this world of ‘Honey, take better care of yourself’ or ‘Honey, put your face on.’ She said those things because she really loved me. It wasn’t her trying to be a b***h or knowing she would be making some deep wounds that I would then spend a lot of money to undo. She did it because it was what she grew up with. She was missing what was actually important. I think she was just holding on and doing the best she could, struggling financially and dealing with a husband who was no longer there.”
Jennifer says she’s lucky that, despite it all, she has a default setting of contentment. “I’ve always been a predominantly happy person, especially once I got out of my mother’s house. That’s also a survival technique from coming from a home that wasn’t always that way.
“I have chosen to use what I grew up with as an example of what I do not want to be or live. It’s a glass-half-full kind of thing. What brings me happiness? I have a great job. I have a great family. I have great friends. I have no reason to feel otherwise.”
The star plays a former beauty queen in musical comedy Dumplin’.
Jennifer and herFriends co-stars were catapulted into the spotlight in 1994.
Jennifer views her divorces from Justin (far left) and Brad (above), and her relationship with tough mum Nancy (left) in a positive light.