Jennifer Aniston: For The Record

Emma Jones

I’m never going to forget Jennifer Aniston’s 40th birthday. Not because I was invited to her party, but because it coincided with the release of a film she did with Owen Wilson back in 2008 called ‘Marley and Me.’

This unfortunate timing meant that the world’s press had access to Jennifer Aniston on a date when traditionally childless and unmarried women are not so much shoved on a shelf, but locked in a box in an attic. The stench of sulphur from their eggs going off so rapidly is hard for society to bear.

My growing disquiet that face to face with her, I might have to question her about something I felt was none of my damn business, was balanced by rising indignation that Owen Wilson was turning 40 at the same time.  The guy had many problems, but being asked about his age wasn’t one of them.

Fortunately for me, the BBC ran with the story I suggested to them – why on earth was there so much fuss around a female actor’s landmark birthday, and none around a male’s? This, I felt, was actually a legitimate question to ask, given the headlines– rather than harass someone with whom I was not intimately acquainted, disguising society’s spite with the cloak of public interest.

That’s why when Jennifer published her article in the Huff Post, I wanted to fist punch instead of face palm, which is my usual reaction when I see sites such as the Mail’s Sidebar of Shame. I’m glad she said what she said, because I’ve wanted to say it for her for years.

As British readers will know from last weekend, we are a long way from accepting that a woman’s womb has nothing to do with her success. In 1559, the last time women wielded such political power in Europe, Elizabeth the First’s only value to her male council was seen in her ability to make a marriage and have a son.  

In 2016, Andrea Leadsom still believed that being a mother would make her a better PM than Theresa May. Another spectacular facepalm moment, it was all the more distressing because it came from the mouth of a woman, even if it was spoken in naivety rather than malice. 

Inherently, do we still believe that a female has more value because of her ability to have a child? I think we must, because it’s women who drive traffic on gossip sites who peddle this narrative. Taught from an early age by the media that we absorb that our value is in our looks and our fertility, we look to celebrities to reflect these values. It’s a vicious cycle that we can only break, in the most positive way, by changing the narrative.

When a woman has the spotlight for her career, let’s embrace her career. Jennifer Aniston is the most successful comic actress of our lifetime. Wouldn’t it be great to ask her about that? Electra looks forward to doing so.

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