We need to stop with the Jennifer Aniston 'beach body-ready' narrative

The concept of the 'beach body-ready' is largely driven by tabloid coverage. Jennifer Aniston is the latest to be labelled with this - despite the press obtaining no consent to run such photos in the first place


What is it about summer and the almost-obsessive tabloid coverage of women in "barely there" bikinis? The Kardashians might have personal trainers to ensure they look picture-perfect while strolling on a beach (more power to them) but most of us don't care about swimwear. Or how we look when our hair is wet. Or whether we wear a bikini or a swimsuit. We care that we're on a beach, the smell of suncream and the fact that the kids are having the time of their lives. So, what is all this about being "beach body-ready"? We have bodies and we'll put a bikini on them and be ready. Simple as.

Or not so simple.

In a culture which insists that women should compete with each other at every turn, the narrative imposed on us - that we're "showing off" the bodies we do have - only breeds insecurity and shame. Especially when it's only a particular type of woman who does the supposed "showing off" - according to the Daily Mail - these women must be rich, under 30 and generally white.

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Jennifer Aniston is the latest woman to be the subject of such ridicule in the news. She's never been given are fair time by the press at large, because she is such a private figure. She won't play the game so many are constantly out for blood.

Why hasn't she settled down? Why hasn't she had children? How can she be this successful and still single? yell the tabloid headlines. At 49, the actress remains is the subject of public obsession that only seems to get more intense as the years go on.

A damaging narrative

Aniston has always seemed to have achieved a sense of contentment - even asides from the hugely successful career. But the media just can't grapple with that idea; that this is the life that she has chosen, it is one that she's happy with. One that doesn't revolve around marriage or children but simply being happy. Because generally speaking, we've always had it in for her.

She was the jilted wife that "never recovered" from Pitt's slimy, distasteful betrayal to Jolie, even a decade later, the childless woman that has never quite made it in terms of having a family or a second marriage that didn't work out. A picture is painted of a woman that we should feel eternally sorry for, yet she says she's one who never chased the 'having it all' dream. She's associated with a "Poor Jen" narrative which does nothing but suggests she has failed deeply in some way.

Remember when the tabloids had a field day thinking she was pregnant - and the tones of disgust by some when she revealed it was nothing but a bloated stomach? The discussion over her apparent weight gain was genuinely disgusting.

"And yet the judgement is there; an almost sneering headline, implying that she should be so lucky, being an A-List celebrity having something to show off at all."  

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Things have turned right around; now the Friends star is getting her own back, according to one headline. "Jennifer Aniston shows off bikini body at 50,” it reads. And need we point out the article attached poring over the actor’s “mismatched bikini”, her “toned and lean physique” and "golden tan."

Only she wasn't posing for a photo shoot.

She was walking back to a private villa while on holidays - and photos which we'd never post here - were taken without consent.

Ellie Goulding summed it up best in 2015:

She didn't "show off" anything because she had no idea the picture was even being taken.

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And yet the judgement is there; an almost sneering headline, implying that she should be so lucky, being an A-List celebrity having something to show off at all.

She's actually doing the opposite - going to great lengths to keep herself private and hidden.

It's been a constant issue for women in the public eye.

Remember when French magazine Closer took - and published - photos of Kate Middleton without consent?

Later, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge issued a statement over the “grotesque and unjustifiable invasion of privacy”.

“[The royal couple were] hugely saddened to learn that a French publication and a photographer have invaded their privacy in such a grotesque and totally unjustifiable manner”, a spokesman for Clarence House, the Prince of Wales’s office, said.

“Their Royal Highnesses had every expectation of privacy in the remote house. It is unthinkable that anyone should take such photographs, let alone publish them."

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Such photographs will never be excusable and only serve to damage the women in them.

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