Jennifer Aniston covers the January 2019 issue of ELLE US, styled by Alison Edmond in Gucci, Isabel Marant, Tom Ford and more. Zoey Grossman captures the ‘Dumplin’ star in deep but also light-hearted reflections about her life.
Carina Chocano interviews Aniston in Jennifer Aniston Doesn’t Need a Happy Ending.
“It is a grand mystery why the public obsession has never abated,” says Kristin Hahn, her producing partner and one of her best friends. “I’ve wondered about it myself for many years—I think Jen represents an archetype for us as a culture.” Aniston is the screen onto which America projects all its double standards about women, especially successful ones. We first got to know her as Rachel Green, the runaway bride who moved to New York City to become herself. Then we spent a decade emotionally invested in whether she would end up with Ross, only to have her perfect marriage to Brad Pitt end soon after that. It’s obviously a lucrative projection, or it would not have been bought and sold, year after year. What anyone gets out of it is unclear. “Maybe it has everything to do with what they’re lacking in their own life,” Aniston theorizes. Or maybe using marriage and children as the ultimate marker of female happiness is just another way to disempower successful women. “Why do we want a happy ending? How about just a happy existence? A happy process? We’re all in process constantly,” Aniston says. “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.” Men, of course, are allowed to continue merrily on their open-ended path to adventure. “That’s part of sexism—it’s always the woman who’s scorned and heartbroken and a spinster. It’s never the opposite. The unfortunate thing is, a lot of it comes from women,” she says. “Maybe those are women who haven’t figured out that they have the power, that they have the ability to achieve a sense of inner happiness.”