Why Jennifer Aniston doesn’t have kids

Jennifer Aniston’s personal life has been one of celebridom’s most scrutinized over the past few decades. After Jennifer’s ex-husband Brad Pitt cheated with Angelina Jolie, Jennifer’s story reached mythic proportions, told and retold again and again by tabloids and websites.

An offshoot of the main story of Jennifer as “jilted wife” is sensational speculation over the fact that the now 49-year-old actress has never had kids. Many have speculated that Jennifer is probably devastated by not being a mom; but, in a new interview with InStyle Jennifer Aniston says the gap between “reckless assumptions” and her reality is quite large.

Jennifer spoke with her real-life friend Molly McNearney — Jimmy Kimmel’s wife — for the interview, so it was probably easier for her to be honest and real. “It’s pretty crazy,” she told Molly. “The misconceptions are ‘Jen can’t keep a man,’ and ‘Jen refuses to have a baby because she’s selfish and committed to her career.’ Or that I’m sad and heartbroken.”

Women who choose not to have children do so for all sorts of reasons, but others are often quick to judge and place their own narratives on very personal decisions in a person’s life. And Jennifer’s decision has made her one of the most scrutinized women in U.S. celebrity culture in part because she was mired in the love-triangle drama story that’s intrigued us for so long. Whether people talk about Jennifer’s child-free life as selfish or sad, the talk almost always comes with an air of criticism — or pity. All of which does little to respect Jennifer’s experience as a person.

“First, with all due respect, I’m not heartbroken,” Jennifer explains. “And second, those are reckless assumptions. No one knows what’s going on behind closed doors. No one considers how sensitive that might be for my partner and me. They don’t know what I’ve been through medically or emotionally. There is a pressure on women to be mothers, and if they are not, then they’re deemed damaged goods. Maybe my purpose on this planet isn’t to procreate. Maybe I have other things I’m supposed to do?”

This isn’t the first time Jennifer has spoken about this issue (probably because she’s constantly being asked about it). In 2014 she spoke about not having kids after being asked about it on a red carpet. She mentioned that this is not a topic people bring up to her directly in everyday life, only when she’s walking a red carpet or doing media interviews.

“I just find it to be energy that is unnecessary and not really fair for those who may or may not [have children],” she said at the time. “Who knows what the reason is, why people aren’t having kids. There’s a lot of reasons that could be, and maybe it’s something that no one wants to discuss. It’s everyone’s personal prerogative, that’s all.”

Amelia Cunningham is a Starcasm writer and editor