Jennifer Aniston is being praised by her peers for a recent op-ed, where she speaks out about the constant pregnancy rumors swirling around her, and the "stalking and objectification" she has endured by the media as a famous woman.
The 47-year-old actress is one of many stars who've used the power of the pen to call out women's issues. From Angelina Jolie's mastectomy revelation to Alicia Keys' op-ed on the pressure for women to be perfect, here's a look at the inspiring messages of seven courageous women, who dared to change the conversation.
1. Jennifer Aniston
After years of false reports that she was with child, Aniston was "fed up." In an op-ed posted by the Huffington Post on Tuesday, the Friends star once again shut down rumors that she was pregnant, but also called out the tabloids for perpetuating such speculation. "I'm fed up with the sport-like scrutiny and body shaming that occurs daily under the guise of 'journalism,' the 'First Amendment' and 'celebrity news,'" she wrote. "I resent being made to feel 'less than' because my body is changing and/or I had a burger for lunch and was photographed from a weird angle and therefore deemed one of two things: 'pregnant' or 'fat.' Not to mention the painful awkwardness that comes with being congratulated by friends, coworkers and strangers alike on one’s fictional pregnancy (often a dozen times in a single day)."
Aniston added that her speaking out was to shine a light on the "absurd and disturbing" messages that tabloid culture is sending to young girls. "The message that girls are not pretty unless they’re incredibly thin, that they’re not worthy of our attention unless they look like a supermodel or an actress on the cover of a magazine is something we’re all willingly buying into," she continued. "This conditioning is something girls then carry into womanhood."
Most Powerful Quote: "We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies. We get to determine our own 'happily ever after' for ourselves."
2. Angelina Jolie
In May 2013, Jolie revealed in a piece for the New York Times that she had undergone a preventive double mastectomy. Brad Pitt's wife went into great detail about how her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, fought ovarian cancer for almost a decade before dying from the disease at 56 years old.
"Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could," she explained. "I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people's hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action."
Most Powerful Quote: "I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer."
3. Jennifer Lawrence
In October 2015, Lawrence penned an op-ed for Lena Dunham's Lenny Letter about being paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle. The Oscar winner admitted in the piece that she "gave up too early" during salary negotiations, in part, because she didn't want to seem "difficult or spoiled."
"At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being 'difficult' or 'spoiled,'" she confessed. "This is an element of my personality that I’ve been working against for years, and based on the statistics, I don’t think I’m the only woman with this issue."
Most Powerful Quote: "I’m over trying to find the 'adorable' way to state my opinion and still be likable! F**k that."
4. Chelsea Handler
In June 2016, the comedian shared her pro-choice point of view in an essay for Playboy magazine’s Freedom Issue. Handler also revealed in this piece that she had two abortions as a teenager. “Getting unintentionally pregnant more than once is irresponsible, but it’s still necessary to make a thoughtful decision,” Handler said. “We all make mistakes all the time. I happened to f**k up twice at the age of 16. I’m grateful that I came to my senses and was able to get an abortion legally without risking my health or bankrupting myself or my family.”
Most Powerful Quote: "It’s a wrap on men deciding what women can do with their bodies."
5. Taylor Swift
In July 2014, the GRAMMY winner shared her views on her hopes for the future of the music industry in a piece for the Wall Street Journal. "Music is art, and art is important and rare," she wrote. "Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It's my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album's price point is. I hope they don't underestimate themselves or undervalue their art."
Most Powerful Quote: "The only real risk is being too afraid to take a risk at all."
6. Alicia Keys
In May 2016, the R&B singer also penned an essay for Lenny Letter, where she opened up about overcoming a lifetime of insecurities about her appearance. “I remember when I first started to be in the public eye. Oh my gawd!” Keys recalled. “Everyone had something to say. ‘She’s so hard, she acts like a boy, she must be gay, she should be more feminine!’ In the streets of New York you had to be tough, you HAD to be hard, people needed to know that you weren’t scared to fight!”
“But this wasn’t the streets of New York,” she added. “This was the harsh, judgmental world of entertainment and my biggest test yet. I started, more than ever, to become a chameleon. Never fully being who I was, but constantly changing so all the ‘they’s’ would accept me.”
Most Powerful Quote: "I hope to God it’s a revolution. ‘Cause I don’t want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing."
7. Jodie Foster
In August 2012, shortly after the breakup of Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, Foster came to the defense of her Panic Room co-star, who was facing major public scrutiny for cheating on Pattinson. "I’ve said it before and I will say it again: if I were a young actor today I would quit before I started," she wrote in a piece for the Daily Beast. "If I had to grow up in this media culture, I don’t think I could survive it emotionally."
Foster also commended the actress for how she was handling being bombarded by paparazzi on a daily basis. "A beautiful young woman strides down the sidewalk alone, head down, hands drawn into fists. She’s walking fast, darting around huge men with black cameras thrusting at her mouth and chest," the Oscar winner wrote. "The young woman doesn’t cry. F**k no. She doesn’t look up. She’s learned. She keeps her head down, her shades on, fists in her pockets. Don’t speak. Don’t look. Don’t cry."
Most Powerful Quote: "Just to set the record straight, a salary for a given on-screen performance does not include the right to invade anyone’s privacy, to destroy someone’s sense of self."
After Aniston's recent op-ed, Melissa McCarthy threw her support behind the actress, telling ET, "“Everybody needs to stop tearing down women. It's always about the way we look -- saying, ‘He's very interesting,’ ‘He’s a good writer,’ ‘She's looking older than she was last time we saw her.’"
Here's more of McCarthy defending Aniston:
- Taylor Swift
- Jodie Foster
- Jennifer Lawrence
- Jennifer Aniston
- Chelsea Handler
- Alicia Keys
- Angelina Jolie