Jennifer Anniston reveals some details about the effect of her mothers never-ending criticism and how she thinks her marriages were ‘successful’.
Anniston sat down with Elle to talk about her troubled relationship with Nancy Dow, her mother, and how she shaped her life.
Anniston’s parents divorced at a very young age, and she was not in contact with her father for a while after the separation.
Her entire parental influence was from her mother, who was a very critical person. Anniston explained, “She was from this world of, ‘Honey, take better care of yourself,’ or ‘Honey, put your face on,’ or all of those odd sound bites that I can remember from my childhood.”
Anniston separated from her mother eventually, but then realized that her mother had never intentionally been overly critical of her.
Anniston said, “My mom said those things because she really loved me. It wasn’t her trying to be a b***h or knowing she would be making some deep wounds that I would then spend a lot of money to undo. She did it because that was what she grew up with.”
Anniston said that part of growing up for her was to not be bitter and choosing to “use what I grew up with as an example of what I do not want to be or live in.”
She also said that having grown older, she now understands a little more of why her mother was how she was.
She explained, “She was missing what was [actually] important. I think she was just holding on and doing the best she could, struggling financially and dealing with a husband who was no longer there. Being a single mom in the ’80s I’m sure was pretty crappy.”
Anniston now uses her experiences from her childhood as a way to understand her character in her new movie Dumplin’. The movie seems to draw not just from Jennifer’s relationship with her mother, but also with her friends.
While talking about her friends, Anniston said, “We always joke that we raised each other, we mothered each other, we sistered each other, we’ve been kids to each other.”
During her interview, Anniston also said that she is a happy person despite person. “What brings me happiness? I have a great job. I have a great family. I have great friends. I have no reason to feel otherwise. If I did, I would need to go get an attitude shift, a perspective shift,” she said.
While speaking more of her childhood, Anniston said, “I also was never a kid who sat around and dreamed about a wedding, you know? Those were never my fantasies. When I was first popped the question, it was so foreign to me.”
She added, “My priorities weren’t about finding partnership and who am I gonna marry and what am I gonna wear on my wedding day. I was building houses with shoe boxes and toilet paper and felt. It was always about finding a home that felt safe.”
She explained that her aversion to marriage was probably a reaction to being from a divorced home, “And I’m sure, because I was from a divorced-parent home, that was another reason I wasn’t like, ‘Well, that looks like a great institution.’ ”
She elaborated that when she was a child, she still does not feel the void of a romantic relationship in her life. She said, “I don’t feel a void. I really don’t. My marriages, they’ve been very successful, in [my] personal opinion. And when they came to an end, it was a choice that was made because we chose to be happy, and sometimes happiness didn’t exist within that arrangement anymore.”
Anniston added, “To stay in a marriage based on fear feels like you’re doing your one life a disservice. When the work has been put in and it doesn’t seem that there’s an option of it working, that’s okay. That’s not a failure. We have these clichés around all of this that need to be reworked and retooled, you know?”
Speaking directly to the media outlets that focus constantly on her relationships versus her career, Anniston said, “You’re diminishing everything I have succeeded at, and that I have built and created. It’s such a shallow lens that people look through. It’s the only place to point a finger at me as though it’s my damage—like it’s some sort of a scarlet letter on me that I haven’t yet procreated, or maybe won’t ever procreate.”
Jennifer Anniston’s interview is part of the January 2019 issue of Elle.