Jennifer cut her hair. I get it. I did the same thing after a break-up in a mid-twenties-life crisis. I have this thing with the Angelina/Jennifer rivalry. I really feel it. In my bones. Sure, they are both beautiful and incredibly fortunate women. And I don’t know the first thing about either of them in Real Life. But my migration from Angelina-ism to Jennifer-itis marks a trajectory of life experiences that many women understand.
I always thought Angelina Jolie had incredible talent as an actress. She blew me away in “Girl, Interrupted.” I didn’t care if she wore a vile of blood around her neck and made odd choices in men. She let herself make mistakes. She stood for something real. She was the damaged, rebel daughter, the angry sarcastic girl who just happened to be gorgeous. I later admired her work with the United Nations. I didn’t mind that she stole Brad out from under Jennifer. Sometimes things just happen. Jennifer, on the other hand, seemed shallow and superficial. She cared too much about yoga and highlights. Brad’s attraction to Angelina proved that maybe men like women with broader interests outside themselves (all things being equal). Angelina had graduated beyond the vapid values of Hollywood. She was a new kind of star. Jennifer remained the girl with the great hairstyle. Competition over.
Then Angelina went and had 17 children and I thought…hmmm, not for me, but then again I can’t afford an army of nannies, vegan chefs and trainers. Sure, she flaunts her epic love for Brad at Awards shows and wears fashionable burqas, but at least she’s doing a lot more than most celebrities. I admired her, yes. Identify with her? Not so much.
It’s not just that you can’t like the girl who gets the hottest guy in the world, but she no longer hit a chord of angry rebellion. She seemed to become a slightly edgier Stepford Wife. She has tons of children, adores her husband, and does a lot of volunteer work. I do admire that she made public her decision to get a double mastectomy. But for all practical purposes, Angelina went from rebel to the model of the conformist mother and wife. Sorry, Angelina. I wish you the best, but you lost me at Child #17.
Meanwhile, Jennifer has endured heartbreak after heartbreak. She falls for the Wrong Guy, lands on her face like a real human being, gets up, sort of laughs, and buys a new dress. She’s the girl I’ve been and met a dozen times, the one who got dumped, left, abandoned for a super hot woman. The one for whom life proves that no amount of yoga classes, highlights, or facials can prevent the inevitable pain of rejection. The girl who will never need to flaunt a relationship because she’s faced abandonment and public humiliation head on so many times she doesn’t need to hide from her aloneness. When I see her picture in tabloids, framed with all the speculation I’ve endured from family members – Will she get married? Will she have kids? – she seems to say, “It doesn’t matter. I’ll live. And why do you care?” She has failed to live up to any notion that an aging woman, let alone a Hollywood star, should go out to pasture, let herself go, or self-destruct with food, alcohol or drugs. Au contraire, she remains impressively hot. But more importantly she smiles, laughs and seems to have fun.
Angelina got all the stuff – the family and husband – but it all sort of neutralized her, she’s no longer too dangerous. Meanwhile, Jennifer faces the scrutiny of not doing, or even wanting – in a desperate kind of way – the things that women are still expected to aspire for. While Angelina seems strung to conventional labels, “wife” “mother” “ambassador,” Jennifer seems to be more and more her own person. Will she die alone? Will she ever have kids? It doesn’t matter. It’s going to be OK.
Rock on, Jennifer!