How so many of us can relate to Jennifer Aniston​

Jennifer Aniston at an event in LA.
Jennifer Aniston at an event in LA.  Photo: Getty

I was 28 when I had my first baby.

Looking back it seems young, but that doesn't mean there wasn't time for others to put the pressure on me.

"When are you going to have kids?" people would ask, at what ended up feeling like every turn I made. "Are you ever going to have a baby?"

The questions seemed strange to me. My life was busy and filled with all the things I wanted: I was working full-time, studying part-time, travelling, and generally enjoying myself. But that wasn't enough for a lot of people around me.

I knew I wanted children, but that wasn't the point really being questioned. Being a mum is society's view of a woman's pinnacle in life, and was I really considering shunning that?

Honestly, I did consider shunning it; the focus placed on motherhood very nearly put me off having kids, perhaps in fear that birthing a child would turn me into that type of person myself. I felt that my wonderful, very full life was being dismissed every time someone asked me when babies were coming.

Now Jennifer Aniston has written about her frustrations at being asked constantly about pregnancy, too.

"For the record, I am not pregnant. What I am is fed up," the actress wrote.

"The sheer amount of resources being spent right now by press trying to simply uncover whether or not I am pregnant (for the bajillionth time ... but who's counting) points to the perpetuation of this notion that women are somehow incomplete, unsuccessful, or unhappy if they're not married with children."


Although the pressures on her are far greater – I certainly didn't have paparazzi photographing my stomach any time it didn't look exactly flat – I think a lot of us can still relate. Lots of women have the hard word put on them by friends, family members, work colleagues, and random acquaintances.

The contents of Jennifer Aniston's womb have been a subject of tabloid fascination for over a decade.

The media, too, plays a role – Aniston is right when she says, "I am an example of the lens through which we, as a society, view our mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, female friends and colleagues. The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing."

Seeing others be pressured in this way inadvertently makes us aware of the pressures out there. It increases our sensitivities and encourages others to think that blurting out a demand for answers on fertility is okay.

Let's be clear: being asked and pressured is very different to having a quiet chat with a friend. That next level, which becomes a demand to know what your plans for those ovaries are, is not okay.

Asking about people's plans to have children can be like digging a knife into an open wound. In my early 20s I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome, so whenever I was asked about having children I'd wonder if it would even be possible for me. Then, for two years of fertility medications and treatment, the constant pressure didn't help matters.

I have some bad news for Jennifer Aniston, though. Even if you do have a child the pressures never end: there's always something else. For me, the questions only increased when I'd had one child. From people visiting in hospital the day after I had my baby – "So do you think you'll have another one?" – right throughout the four years until I had my second child (including the most infuriating: people asking my daughter if she'd like her mummy to provide a brother or sister. Definitely not cool).

And now? "Are you having a third?" or "You should try for a boy!" are common intrusions. Fortunately, these questions no longer open wounds; I can simply answer with a decided no.

So, if someone feels the need to know someone's baby news, well, Aniston says it best: "Yes, I may become a mother some day, and since I'm laying it all out there, if I ever do, I will be the first to let you know."