While it seems that Aniston has some Hollywood heavyweights in her corner, she can’t seem to shake the negative press she earned for her most famous role: the former Mrs. Brad Pitt. Although it’s been over five years since Aniston and Pitt divorced, rarely a week goes by without the actress’s rumored romantic entanglements appearing in the press, often painting a less-than-flattering portrait of Aniston as some kind of down-and-out spinster.
Despite her fame, fortune and reputation as a genuinely nice person, it seems as though many media outlets aren’t ready to let Aniston step out of the shadow of her former relationship or that of Pitt and current partner, Angelina Jolie.
Many celebrities whose relationships have crumbled amid rumors of infidelity have received support from the media and fans, but Aniston has consistently been lampooned by the press while Pitt and Jolie have become beloved Hollywood royalty.
The question is, why?
The fact of the matter is, Aniston’s situation represents some of our worst fears. She is not only beautiful but successful and, by all accounts, a lovely individual, but she still couldn’t make her seemingly perfect relationship with Pitt work. To make matters worse, she was allegedly left for a younger, more successful and, by some accounts, more beautiful woman.
While most celebrity mistresses or rebounds are criticized in the press, Jolie was a respected actress and beauty icon before she became involved with Pitt. Jolie’s reputation hardly took a hit when she announced she was pregnant with Pitt’s child only a year after his divorce, leading many to believe the two had been involved while Pitt was still married.
According to Dr. Lorraine B. Cates, a New York City psychoanalyst and couple’s therapist, “Angelina Jolie projects an all-knowingness that people like to feel. Our culture is having a very hard time dealing with just being human, something Aniston projects so well. With the enormity of all the cultural changes assaulting us, there seemingly is a return to wanting gods and goddesses.”
Despite Aniston’s discretion regarding her post-Pitt relationships, her every move has been critiqued by the press, with everything from her looks to her reported flings being deemed “sad.” Even ‘Project Runway’ charmer Tim Gunn weighed in on the actress, telling OK!, “Sometimes I think she has ‘desperate character’ written on her.”
Cates says that the constant criticism of Aniston is less indicative of a problem with the actress herself, but with the culture she’s a part of. “There is a need to dissect life into good, bad, right and wrong, and the press does that. Jennifer Aniston is an example of a complicated human being that is striving to find meaning in her life,” she says.
“The culprit is the press promulgating the tacit and sometimes not so tacit message that being a real human being is simply not acceptable — that’s what’s sad in this scenario, certainly not Aniston.”