Jennifer Aniston is setting the record straight.
The 49-year-old actress covers InStyle‘s September issue, where she opens up to Jimmy Kimmel’s wife and her friend, Molly McNearney, about false rumours, her love life and why she stays off social media. The former Friends star — who called it quits with her estranged husband, Justin Theroux, in February — says she constantly hears made-up stories about herself, but she’s learned to ignore them for the most part.
“There are definitely moments of not being balanced and poised, but I do that all in my own personal space,” she notes. “For the most part I can sit back and laugh at the ridiculous headlines because they have gotten more and more absurd. I guess they’re feeding into some sort of need the public has, but I focus on my work, my friends, my animals, and how we can make the world a better place. That other stuff is junk food that needs to go back in its drawer.”
While she seems to have a pretty zen-like attitude when it comes to the constant press surrounding her personal life, Aniston isn’t totally unfazed by what the public falsely assumes.
“The misconceptions are ‘Jen can’t keep a man,’ and ‘Jen refuses to have a baby because she’s selfish and committed to her career.’ Or that I’m sad and heartbroken,” she says. “First, with all due respect, I’m not heartbroken. And second, those are reckless assumptions. No one knows what’s going on behind closed doors. No one considers how sensitive that might be for my partner and me. They don’t know what I’ve been through medically or emotionally. There is a pressure on women to be mothers, and if they are not, then they’re deemed damaged goods. Maybe my purpose on this planet isn’t to procreate. Maybe I have other things I’m supposed to do?”
The comments about motherhood and failed relationships are something that’s plagued the “Horrible Bosses” star for years, and, for Aniston, it feels like another form of sexism.
“I’ve definitely had my fair share of sexism in the media. Women are picked apart and pitted against one another based on looks and clothing and superficial stuff,” she confides. “When a couple breaks up in Hollywood, it’s the woman who is scorned. The woman is left sad and alone. She’s the failure. F that. When was the last time you read about a divorced, childless man referred to as a spinster?”
In light of the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements, many celebrities have come forward to share their experiences with sexual harassment in the workplace. While Aniston says she’s had “some sloppy moves” made on her by other actors, she adds that she’s “never had anyone in a position of power make me feel uncomfortable and leverage that over me.”
“I’ve been treated worse verbally and energetically by some women in this industry,” Aniston says.
“We… need to be better at listening to one another. That includes men. They need to be part of this conversation. When everyone is mad and aggressive, people become too afraid to speak and there is no conversation,” she continues, noting that a necessary change needs to be made in the entertainment industry. “Same goes for politics. We need to include each other, to hear each other out. We can’t stoop to the anger. Michelle Obama said it best: ‘When they go low, we go high.’ We should all be living by that if we want real progress.”
Aniston admits that sometimes she considers getting out of Hollywood.
“There have been moments when I would just love to get out of dodge and move to Switzerland — or somewhere — and start anew. Just have this sh*t behind me. Does it really matter? Are we really doing anything? What is my life’s purpose?” she ponders. “Every seven years I try to sum up what I am doing and what I want to make my focus. I’m trying to make better choices. I went through a period of saying yes to projects that I shouldn’t have, but I felt like, ‘How dare I say no?’ Now I’m trying to get better at saying no and to be a part of projects that actually, really matter…”
The actress confesses that she wasn’t always this self-assured.
“I was one of the kids who the others would decide to make fun of. It was an odd period of time during fifth, sixth, seventh grades. I was a little on the chubby side, so I was just that kid,” she recalls. “Childhood is such a vulnerable time, and I’m sure a part of me believed all that they teased me about. Thankfully, I didn’t have a phone or social media to look at and think, ‘Oh, I’m not this, I’m not that.’ I just wanted to have fun and play capture the flag.”
To this day, Aniston is not on social media, largely because she sees how it affects people. “It feels like we are losing connection. I think we’re losing conversation,” she says. “… I think iPhones and Snapchat and all this stuff is just fueling narcissism. People are using filters and all sorts of tools to mask who they really are.”
Despite it all — the rumors, the misconceptions, the sexism, the scrutiny — Aniston isn’t done just yet.
“I’m grateful as long as people still want me to come to the party. I think I’ll always want to keep acting as long as there’s a desire for me to do it,” she says. “As long as I’m fulfilled in other ways creatively, spiritually, and all of that stuff, I know that I could do this until they put me in a home.”
Currently, Aniston is filming a Netflix movie in Italy with Adam Sandler. Here’s a look at her on set: