The not-good-enough girl
It's 2005 and newly separated starlet Jennifer Aniston is -- surprise! -- being pilloried for putting her career before motherhood.
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By Rebecca Traister*
*I have abridged this for faster reading.
"Jennifer Aniston failed to reproduce with her husband, Brad Pitt. But her failure -- as reported between the lines of every story we're reading -- wasn't simply a fertility issue. It was an unfathomable -- though possibly temporary, at the precarious age of 35 -- prioritization of her career over her family. It was an instance in which we were treated to the sight of a woman we like, openly wanting to get further ahead professionally before giving over her life -- and yes, her body, which is a serious commodity in her business -- to the demands of childbearing and child rearing. And clearly, it still makes us uncomfortable.
Aniston's career is at a stage that's perhaps more delicate and pressing than even her blessed biological clock. She has 10 years as one of the most successful sitcom characters in television history to wipe out if she wants to become a viable movie star. And she should act fast while she is still a known quantity, and can still draw on her looks and fantastically fit body. She has four movies on deck and yes, that has meant time away from her marital bed -- and all its baby-making potential -- to shoot them. All while her husband, 41, who began the game as a full-blown movie star and "the Sexiest Man Alive" and once deigned to guest-star on her sitcom, has lowered the burner on his career and turned more attention to things like architecture and his Jolie-inspired humanitarian pursuits. In a particularly poignant fuck-you to Aniston, photographs in one of People's sidebars ("Separate Lives: The year they drifted apart") show Pitt kibbitzing with Nelson Mandela and architect Rem Koolhaas while Aniston shoots a film with Hollywood punch line Kevin Costner.
So she may be hanging with Costner while Mr. I'm-Ready-for-Children is befriending Mandela, but at 35, why is it such a crime that Aniston should want to get the good roles she's still offered and up her asking price before her female body and face begin to fall and age and literally lose their value?
The New York Daily News on Monday ran a feature in which it interviewed New York mothers about the impact of Aniston's breakup with her husband. "I still give her five years to make up her mind," one 30-year-old mother was quoted as saying, while a 36-year-old dad said, "She has time ... With technology today, people are having kids into their 50's." One grandmother said, "She can go back to a career afterward. She has to think about her biological clock."
It's enough to make us all -- movie stars and non-movie stars, moms and nonmoms, those of us married to Brad Pitt and those of us who are not -- sit back with enormous martinis and consider whether the most interesting things about us will ever cease to be our uteruses."