Two of my most favorite things in the world collided this past week to create a lot of media buzz: Jennifer Aniston and GQ Magazine. Jennifer Aniston’s impossibly toned and impossibly naked body graces the cover of GQ’s latest issue, with the headline, “Is it just us, or is Jennifer Aniston getting hotter?”
With timing that is either complete serendipity or, more likely, publicity brilliance, the cover hit newsstands this past week just as Aniston’s new movie, Marley and Me, is hitting theaters on Christmas Day. The occurrence means that Aniston is currently traveling the usual circuit of talk shows and interviews to promote the movie, and unsurprisingly, all Letterman and the gang want to talk about is her naked cover.
On CBS’s Early Show, Harry Smith acted like an awkward 12-year old boy while interviewing the glowing star, while Letterman had some fun playing around with the actual tie from the cover which Aniston gifted to him. Elsewhere in the media world, reactions towards the racy cover ranged from unsurprised acknowledgment to mean-spirited outrage. BF John Mayer said he didn’t mind the shot at all and the newsstand in New York’s Grand Central Station “censored” it by placing a piece of paper over displayed magazine.
Normally, this kind of blatant “sex sells!” maneuver irks me, not because of the magazine’s decision to print it but because of the star’s willingness to shoot it. I usually find myself unconsciously judging whichever celebrity happens to be have the latest boob shot, for being fame hungry and exposing themselves beyond the realm of dignity. But in this case, two things are different:
1. As I admitted before, I have a huge bias. GQ is my favorite magazine and Jennifer Aniston is my favorite star. Both generally fall into the “can-do-no-wrong” category. Clearly this tips the scales just a smidge.
2. More seriously, Aniston seems to occupy a new place in life where her body is not for sale but rather a point of pride and, more basically, reality. This is who she is, 39 years and all, and she is supremely comfortable with that. Lord knows she doesn’t need the publicity. To me the cover just says, “This is me, take it or leave it”—although seriously, who’d leave it?— “and I’m OK doing whatever makes me feel great.”
Sure, any other star can say, “I’m comfortable with my body…” etc. But in most cases the sexy magazine shots seem aimed at self-promotion and scream “Look at me! And my boobs!” The person’s identity, what we know of her, starts with the picture and only builds from that initial image. But we know Jen, and she knows this. Her identity remains concrete in the public’s mind, shifting slightly with each tabloid caption but always remaining attached to an individual, a real personality. Whatever anyone already thought of Aniston, this picture won’t change that. She has nothing to prove and (albeit unfortunately) nothing she can hide. So Jen, go ahead and enjoy that freedom— if we had that body, Lord knows we’d consider it.