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How we failed Jennifer Aniston by thinking we knew her better than she knows herself

On her 50th birthday I've decided to stop feeling sorry for her, and so should you.

10 Feb 2019

It's almost certainly been her least-favourite role to date. The pitied, pushing-50-year-old, twice-divorced, childless woman who can't seem to hold down a relationship. Unfortunately for Jennifer Aniston, it's the one character she isn't paid to play. The one she can't shake off. The only one that's entirely unscripted and the only story she's written for herself.

But is that really who she is?

Of course it's not. She's a wildly successful actress and one of the most popular stars of one of the world's biggest television series of all time. She's incredibly wealthy, rumoured to be worth around £170 million. She has a fiercely loyal group of friends. A wonderful home complete with dogs that she adores. She has an infectious sense of humour and an endless list of hobbies (including skulpting, boxing, travelling) that she can continue to enjoy regardless of cost.

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She's also everything that society teaches us we want to be. She's beautiful. She has perfectly toned arms, wonderful skin, a slim waist, piercing eyes, and ever-changing-but-forever-lusted-after hair... Not to mention the wardrobe bursting full of clothes that most of us could only ever dream of wearing, never mind owning.

So why the fu*k do we insist on feeling so sorry for her? Why do we presume that she's unhappy? That she's somewhat lacking in life? Because she sounds pretty fulfilled to me.

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Why is it that, just because she doesn't have a 'burgeoning bump' or bulging brood of children - gorgeous or otherwise - or a permanent ring on her finger and person next to her on the red carpet, we assume that she requires pity despite her always maintaining that she didn't want it.

Is it because she's always played such a likable character - one whom we wish we knew - and so we obsess over every single minutiae of her life and try to forge some sort of a sympathetic bond, however one-sided? Because she really isn't concerned about your latest break-up, or whether you choose to go bra-less for that matter. Or is it a symptom of our own insecurity, that we must acknowledge the unthinkable, abhorrent abnormality of an older, single woman or we might suffer the same fate ourselves?

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If you've kept your finger even remotely close to the pulse over the past two decades, you'll have a good idea of Aniston's personal life. Or, at least, you'll think you do.

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She was married to Brad Pitt who unceremoniously dumped her for Angelina Jolie. This was a legitimately awful situation (especially when the pair spoke openly to of becoming 'kind of a pair' and 'more than [they'd] earlier allowed [themselves] to believe' while filming Mr and Mrs Smith together) and one which warranted at least an element of the 'poor Jen' label she found attached to her every headline. But that was fourteen years - and several relationships - ago.

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She has since dated the likes of Vince Vaughn and John Mayer, before marrying and - God forbid - consequently divorcing Justin Theroux.

But despite the lack of hard evidence to suggest that there was any foul play (such as Brad's subsequent marriage to Angelina) or even hostility between Jen and Justin, global social media was immediately awash with emotional messages from a smorgasbord of total strangers who somehow knew exactly how she was feeling. More so, they knew better than she did; predicting an imminent rekindle with ex-husband Brad, was also now single.

Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston are getting back together. I called it first.

— marissa v (@mersshhh)

Ok I do feel sorry for Jennifer Aniston having to go through another break up and it's always so public. She can't catch a break. However I massively hope she does get back with Brad Pitt. Please let the fairytale come true. They were just on a break. A very long break.

— Katy Slater (@Kaytea21)

Consider her professional male counterparts. How often did we pity poor old George Clooney, single and - presumably therefore - utterly miserable before he met Amal at 51. Or 44-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio, who's still unattached. Or Hugh Grant, who married last year at 58. Or, in fact, Brad bloody Pitt. At 55 he's had a string of failed relationships, but we don't worry about his 'incompleteness'.

Ironically, I reckon the only legitimate reason to pity Jennifer Aniston would be for having to hear all of this misplaced sympathy and self-important preachy behaviour that she's subjected to by her so-called 'fans'.

She hasn't failed at anything. She doesn't owe it to us to pro-create, and she certainly doesn't owe it to us to marry and live a quiet-but-unhappy life in order to fulfill our bizarrely personal hopes and dreams for, essentially, a total stranger.

This week she turns 50, and rather than consider what she's lacking why not celebrate and toast to her greatness? Because she certainly will be.