The Internet is erupting in applause for Jennifer Aniston.
The actress penned an essay for the Huffington Post, responding to the rumor that has plagued her for years and commenting on the damage that such objectification does to womankind in general.
First up: Those pernicious pregnancy reports and the tabloids that persist in running them.
U.S. & World
"For the record, I am not pregnant," Aniston wrote. "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."
Last month, pics taken of Aniston--who earlier this year was People's Most Beautiful issue cover girl--and husband Justin Theroux on vacation made a splash because the actress had eaten lunch and then walked around in a bikini.
"This past month in particular has illuminated for me how much we define a woman's value based on her marital and maternal status," she continued later in the post. "The sheer amount of resources being spent right now by press trying to simply uncover whether or not I am pregnant (for the bajillionth time... but who's counting) points to the perpetuation of this notion that women are somehow incomplete, unsuccessful, or unhappy if they're not married with children. In this last boring news cycle about my personal life there have been mass shootings, wildfires, major decisions by the Supreme Court, an upcoming election, and any number of more newsworthy issues that 'journalists' could dedicate their resources towards."
"Here's where I come out on this topic: we are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies. That decision is ours and ours alone. Let's make that decision for ourselves and for the young women in this world who look to us as examples. Let's make that decision consciously, outside of the tabloid noise. We don't need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own 'happily ever after' for ourselves."
Aniston is going to try, anyway.
"I have grown tired of being part of this narrative. Yes, I may become a mother some day, and since I'm laying it all out there, if I ever do, I will be the first to let you know. But I'm not in pursuit of motherhood because I feel incomplete in some way, as our celebrity news culture would lead us all to believe. I resent being made to feel 'less than' because my body is changing and/or I had a burger for lunch and was photographed from a weird angle and therefore deemed one of two things: 'pregnant' or 'fat.' Not to mention the painful awkwardness that comes with being congratulated by friends, coworkers and strangers alike on one's fictional pregnancy (often a dozen times in a single day)."
Aniston and Theroux will be celebrating their first wedding anniversary next month, their quiet nuptials last August finally putting a stop, more or less, to the eight years the actress had spent being portrayed as the scorned ex-wife of Brad Pitt --multiple relationships and her success not having done enough to make her seem less lovelorn.
She also expressed frustration with the constant (and sometimes even dangerous) paparazzi presence and the obsession with what her face and body look like from every angle.
"I am some kind of symbol to some people out there, then clearly I am an example of the lens through which we, as a society, view our mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, female friends and colleagues," Aniston continued. "The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing. The way I am portrayed by the media is simply a reflection of how we see and portray women in general, measured against some warped standard of beauty."
"Sometimes cultural standards just need a different perspective so we can see them for what they really are--a collective acceptance... a subconscious agreement. We are in charge of our agreement. Little girls everywhere are absorbing our agreement, passive or otherwise. And it begins early."
Aniston goes on to talk about how constant paparazzi scrutiny contributes to a warped and dehumanizing perspective of women.
"We use celebrity 'news' to perpetuate this dehumanizing view of females, focused solely on one's physical appearance, which tabloids turn into a sporting event of speculation," she wrote. "Is she pregnant? Is she eating too much? Has she let herself go? Is her marriage on the rocks because the camera detects some physical 'imperfection'?"
"I used to tell myself that tabloids were like comic books, not to be taken seriously, just a soap opera for people to follow when they need a distraction. But I really can't tell myself that anymore because the reality is the stalking and objectification I've experienced first-hand, going on decades now, reflects the warped way we calculate a woman's worth."
Not coincidentally, Aniston's essay comes out after Rene Zellweger was called out in Variety magazine for looking different than she used to; a Vanity Fair cover story profile on Margot Robbie came off more like a mash note; and a Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic wrote a bizarre piece in The New York Times that turned both Blake Lively and Kate Hudson into pretty faces with nothing behind them.
And while Aniston had every reason to write this essay based solely on her own experiences, let alone those affecting her fellow women, it appears that she has picked up on this disheartening trend of human beings being attacked by a predatory tabloid media.
Body-shaming, single-shaming, childless-woman-shaming; Aniston has scarily experienced all of the shaming, and she doesn't even have social media.
"From years of experience, I've learned tabloid practices, however dangerous, will not change, at least not any time soon," she concluded. "What can change is our awareness and reaction to the toxic messages buried within these seemingly harmless stories served up as truth and shaping our ideas of who we are. 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 bulls--t."
This perspective, the biggest slam yet from a normally very private Hollywood insider, may be just what those who still don't get it needed to hear.