You never know what someone’s going through.
It’s a phrase we see and hear all the time, if not from the loved ones in our lives, from inspirational social media posts, a framed print on an office wall, or a poster on a classroom door. And while I’m optimistic that most of us strive to live with a sense of compassion and decency towards others, I know in reality it’s not always the case… and when it comes to celebrities – the people who dedicate their lives to bringing joy and entertainment into our lives – well, they’re kind of tossed aside altogether.
Yep, tossed into the “Oh, but they’re famous” category, as if to say their decision to choose acting, music or sport as a career, and be really good at it, somehow makes them devoid of any human-ness, and therefore any need for kindness or consideration. Enter the tabloids and gossip sites who use and abuse this to their very profitable advantage.
Time and time again, they construct fabricated or sensational narratives about celebrities through perfectly-timed paparazzi shots, words taken out of context or even negative comments from a handful of random strangers online (who curiously, never seem to have profile pics). The stories are written with maximum audience engagement in mind (because hello clicks and dollar signs!), often bringing out the worst in readers, actively inviting their judgment and outrage (because hello, more clicks and dollar signs!) without valuing the impact these narratives might have on the celebrity, their mental health or their loved ones.
Jennifer Aniston knows it all too well.
In an interview with Allure magazine, the Hollywood star and founder of haircare line LolaVie, opens up about life in her 50s (she’s lovin’ it FYI) but also the painful pregnancy rumours that followed her around for decades. For the first time, Jen has revealed that behind the gossip headlines of the 90s and early 2000s, behind the relentless media scrutiny, she was in fact trying to have a baby:
“I was trying to get pregnant. It was a challenging road for me, the baby-making road,” Jen tells the publication. “All the years and years and years of speculation… It was really hard. I was going through IVF, drinking Chinese teas, you name it. I was throwing everything at it.”
This – the emotional rollercoaster of trying to become a mother – is what she was going through while the headlines announced she was pregnant, or lost the baby, or was ending her marriage over baby issues, or was choosing her career over kids – “It was absolute lies.”
She adds that the whole thing was “so maddening” and is the reason why she wrote an op-ed for The Huffington Post in 2016 slamming gossip as a form of “journalism” as well as the media’s treatment of women. “I’m not superhuman to the point where I can’t let it penetrate and hurt.”
While Jen didn’t share exactly when her IVF journey took place, she did say that her late 30s and 40s were a really difficult time, but she’s come out stronger on the other side: “and if it wasn’t for going through that, I would’ve never become who I was meant to be. That’s why I have such gratitude for all those shitty things.”
None of us knew what Jen was going through. The tabloids certainly didn’t, but they charged ahead with their fabricated narratives anyway.
None of us knew that late Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, who was ridiculed for his thin frame before his death, was actually living with colon cancer. None of us knew the extent of the darkness Selena Gomez experienced through the highs and lows of fame until her documentary Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me, came out this week. None of us knew or know so many things about the people who bring joy and entertainment to our lives.
Or the everyday people we cross paths with, in real life or online.
You just never really know what someone is going through.
Read Jen’s full interview with Allure HERE.
(Feature Image Credit: Jaguar PS/Shutterstock)