She is firmly entrenched in ‘Top Earning Actress’ territory. She is an award winning actor, producer, model and spokesperson. She is also a philanthropist and an avid supporter of numerous charity organisation. But despite all of her accomplishments, and when all is said and done, when it comes to love and the infamous ‘Brangelina’, Jennifer Aniston will always be a part of that conversation. Sharon Carvalho tracks the journey from ‘America’s Sweetheart’ to ‘Team Aniston’
It began in 1998 when, reportedly, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were set up on a blind date by their respective agents. Quickly dubbed ‘Hollywood’s Golden Couple’, the two tied the knot on the 29th of July 2000 at an extravagant $1 million Malibu wedding with a flower canopy, a gospel choir, four bands, fireworks and 200 friends who partied the night away with them. With the next few years spent working on their careers and focusing on their relationship, and amid numerous pregnancy rumours, Pitt and Aniston seemed to defy the Hollywood standard with a relationship that looked like it was going to stand the test of time.
But by the end of 2004, there seemed to be trouble in paradise. During the shooting of his 2005 film ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’, rumours arose that an on-set romance was brewing between Pitt and his co-star, Angelina Jolie. And while Aniston refused to comment for a while, by the 7th of January 2005, a formal announcement was made by the couple, “We would like to announce that after seven years together we have decided to formally separate. For those who follow these sorts of things, we would like to explain that our separation is not the result of any of the speculation reported by the tabloid media. This decision is the result of much thoughtful consideration.” What followed was a maelstrom of tabloid reports that speculated about their marriage, the fact that they didn’t have children and Pitt’s alleged infidelity. As the ‘wronged’ woman, the storyline followed a downward spiral that detailed the life of poor, defenseless Aniston who had been left behind for another woman and a happy family. Years of headlines spanned topics from her ‘revenge body’ to how she could not stop loving him. And while there were a few moments of respite, any moment that ‘Brangelina’ was in the news, Aniston was dragged through the dirt again. From the instant Pitt and Jolie were spotted in Kenya with her adopted son Maddox, to years after the split when the two got married in 2014 (and she was engaged to her now husband, Justin Theroux), even though the news was essentially about the couple, Aniston’s thoughts and emotional state were constantly called into question.
Through it all, Aniston kept her head high and moved on with life. And while she dated Vince Vaughn and John Mayer, a chance encounter had her meeting Theroux in May 2011. By January of the next year, the couple purchased a home in Bel-Air where they got married in a surprise wedding ceremony, disguised as his 44th birthday party, on the 5th of August 2015. “We had the luxury of having a beautiful private moment and I’m going to be selfish and keep it that way,” she said, going on to add that marriage felt normal and fun and not very different because they felt married for so long. For Theroux, being married felt different. “It’s nice to be able to look down and see a new piece of jewellery on my finger. I can’t remember the first time I said those words [my wife], but it feels fantastic. It’s a comfortable term. I was getting tired of saying ‘fiancee’. They sounds adorable for about six months and then you go, ‘Okay, we’ve got to make some time for this’,” he said.
But as time went by, the rumour mill began churning again. Following photographs released of their vacation in Mexico, speculation arose that she was pregnant. Acknowledging that addressing gossip is something she did not condone, Aniston attempted to set the record straight, by penning a blog piece that discussed intense media scrutiny, body shaming and the judgement women feel for not being married or having children. “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. The message that girls are not pretty unless they’re incredibly thin, that they’re not worthy of our attention unless they look like a supermodel or an actress on the cover of a magazine is something we’re all willingly buying into. This conditioning is something girls then carry into womanhood,” she wrote.
She ended the piece with this, “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.”
But a few months after this post, her intentions were overshadowed by the news that Jolie had filled for divorce from Pitt, citing irreconcilable differences, and she was thrust into the spot light again. With headlines swinging wildly between ‘Aniston-Theroux marriage in trouble as duo fight over holiday destination’ to ‘Pitt-Aniston plan meeting and Theroux has no problem with it’, it seemed like the tabloids were never going to let her go. Theroux went on to address this by saying, “There’s an endless appetite for trash, apparently, though everyone would say that they don’t have that appetite. But I think a lot of people do because people buy it. But there are bigger things to complain about. It’s shocking how much bandwidth things can take up when there are far more important things going on in the world.” And while the world waits with bated breath for even a smidgeon of information
from Aniston, the actress has chosen to officially remain silent. As she once categorically stated, “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.” But then again, sources close to Aniston revealed that her comment to hearing the news was, “Yeah, that’s karma for you!”