Jennifer Aniston has been fighting the same tabloid narrative for more than a decade now: that she’s sad and single and desperately wants children. The Dumplin‘ actress’ astronomical professional success constantly plays second fiddle to her personal life—and what the public thinks is wrong with it. It’s a sexist battle that women in Hollywood over a certain age who aren’t married with children still endure, even in 2018.
In her new interview with ELLE magazine, Aniston doubles down on the fact she doesn’t need a metaphorical white-picket fence and all that comes with it to feel complete.
“I don’t feel a void,” she said. “I really don’t. My marriages [to Brad Pitt and Justin Theroux], they’ve been very successful, in [my] personal opinion. And when they came to an end, it was a choice that was made because we chose to be happy, and sometimes happiness didn’t exist within that arrangement anymore.”
She adds, “We live in a society that messages women: By this age, you should be married; by this age, you should have children. That’s a fairy tale. That’s the mold we’re slowly trying to break out of.”
In fact, Aniston isn’t even sure she wants children. She finds the idea “quite honestly, kind of frightening.” “Some people are just built to be wives and have babies,” she says. “I don’t know how naturally that comes to me.”
That Aniston has to even justify her choices in the first place is frustrating. We should be past the idea that women need X, Y, or Z to be fulfilled. There is no blueprint to happiness, and Aniston says people “diminish everything she’s succeeded at” when they chose to focus on her marital status. “It’s such a shallow lens that people look through,” she says. “It’s the only place to point a finger at me as though it’s my damage—like it’s some sort of a scarlet letter on me that I haven’t yet procreated, or maybe won’t ever procreate.”
Ultimately, the Friends icon says she isn’t looking for that fairy tale happy ending, but a “happy existence.” “Why do we want a happy ending?” she says. “How about just a happy existence? A happy process? We’re all in process constantly. What quantifies happiness in someone’s life isn’t the ideal that was created in the ’50s. It’s not like you hear that narrative about any men.”
Read Aniston’s full ELLE profile here.