Editor’s note: David Caplan is an entertainment journalist and the founder of GossipDavid.com. Previously, he was a senior editor of People magazine and has worked at publications like Us Weekly, Star Magazine and HollywoodLIfe.com. He is on Twitter.
Has Jennifer Aniston broken her media-imposed curse of being “unlucky in love?”
Following Sunday night’s announcement by her publicist that she’s engaged to actor Justin Theroux, hopeless romantics — and finger-wagging celeb watchers — have taken a collective sigh of relief that Brad’s scorned ex-wife has finally found a partner to settle down with (and hopefully start a family).
So pack up the pity party: Jen’s back on track! Ladies, rejoice! There is hope that you, too, can find your soulmate in your 40s after being dumped for another woman! Or, at least that’s been the tenor of the coverage of Jen’s love life.
Since splitting from Brad, Jennifer has had a handful of boyfriends — Vince Vaughn, model Paul Sculfor, John Mayer, Jason Sudekis and Bradley Cooper. During each romance, celebrity weeklies and the blogosphere have speculated breathlessly about purported marriage proposals and baby plans. A 2008 Star cover, for example, portrayed Jennifer as marriage-hungry and desperate for a baby during her courtship with John Mayer: “Jen Pops The Question: MARRY ME!...John Says YES To Baby!”
But in February 2011, a defiant Jennifer told People magazine that the biggest misperception of her is “that I'm unhappy…I'm really happy. Really!"
Jennifer has always been at odds with her fans’ wishes for her. "I think people honestly just want to see me as a mom and married and barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen," she told People. "And I just want to say, 'Everybody, relax! It's going to happen.'”
I believe these sentiments have been fueled by the fact that Brad Pitt seems happily married to Angelina Jolie. But don’t tell the media that, who have claimed Jen wants nothing more than to reconcile with Brad: “I Can’t Stop Loving Brad” and “Jen Fights To Get Brad Back,” Star covers have screamed over the years.
In my opinion, Jen will always be linked to her ex-husband, even though that relationship was over long ago. After all, Brad and Jen represented the ultimate Hollywood power couple. Toss in Angelina, and it’s the perfect storm (And of course, let’s not forget we’re talking about Hollywood — a landscape defined by contrived characters we essentially create).
But has all this coverage really reflected the opinion of the masses? Are unmarried women in their 30s and 40s really thinking, “Jen’s finally engaged again at 43? Wow, there’s still hope for me!”? If that were true, the underlying assumption would be that Jen’s relatable. Sorry, but she’s not.
I surveyed some of my single thirty-something friends, and the reaction was mixed:
A 34-year-old writer in Los Angeles says she’s inspired by Jen’s romantic good fortunes. "Jen's engagement is a sign to all the single ladies that we all, as a collective gender, can bounce back and find love again no matter how bad things ever got."
Clearly, that’s my hopeless romantic friend. But another female friend of mine, a never-married 37-year-old corporate communications manager who has no trouble meeting men, hardly feels the same way.
“It’s insulting to assume that women now have ‘hope’ just because Jen was able to land a man,” she says. “I really didn't expect any less for her – or for any sane, good-looking woman who has marriage as her goal.”
Another one of my friends adds, “Personally I don't identify all that much with her. She's a rich, famous, gorgeous Hollywood starlet who used to be married to Brad Pitt. She’s neither a charity case nor someone worth pitying.”