In a new essay published by the Huffington Post, the actress opened up about being the subject of tabloid stories over the years and what she feels they represent for women everywhere.
Though she's been written about many times in the past, Aniston said that the recent stories about her body - some pointed to her stomach and questioned whether she was expecting - were what prompted her to speak out.
"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," she wrote, adding that girls are taught they're not attractive unless they're thin or exceptionally beautiful.
Taking aim at tabloids' obsession with monitoring female celebrities' waistlines, Aniston writes, "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. 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'? The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing."
These practices affect the actress regularly. Aniston, 47, explained that she and her husband, actor Justin Theroux, 44, are relentlessly "harassed" by photographers "who will go to shocking lengths" to take their picture. But the stories that question whether she's pregnant are what bother her most, as she feels they perpetuate the myth that women need to have children to be happy.
"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," she wrote. "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."
And though the actress, who is not pregnant, didn't rule out the possibility that one day she'd become a mother ("I will be the first to let you know," she added), she said that she wouldn't do so because she felt there was something missing in her life.
"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)," she wrote. "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."
As a result, Aniston urged readers not to buy into the tabloid stories about her or anybody else.
"From years of experience, I’ve learned tabloid practices, however dangerous, will not change, at least not any time soon. 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," she wrote. "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---."