This story, originally published in May of 2017, really touches on all that is fun and good about Nostalgia Month. We get to look back on one of the mid to late ’90s brightest star’s Jennifer Anniston, whilst also looking back on some great content from Man Repeller. Please enjoy Harling’s deep dive into the life and mind of Jenny A. – Nora
I’m about to be the first writer in the history of magazine journalism to refer to Jennifer Aniston as “an enigma,” but, well… JENNIFER ANISTON IS AN ENIGMA.
When I volunteered to attempt a Jennifer Aniston Diet, which, in Man Repeller-speak, refers to the practice of living, eating, sleeping and breathing like Jennifer Aniston for an allotted period of time, I went into it feeling pretty cocky. This isn’t my first time at the celebrity diet rodeo, after all. I’ve done Amy, Ellen, Anna, Hillary and Gwyneth. Adopting the lifestyle of yet another A-lister with nice highlights would be easier than riding a bike with training wheels, a memory-foam butt cushion and a basket filled with organic fruit snacks, right? Wrong.
I innocently kicked off the process the same way I always do, by purchasing my subject’s favorite foods and beverages. In Jen’s case, this meant Ezekiel bread, avocados, chicken burgers, oatmeal (which she sometimes cooks with an egg white for “extra protein” — a trick relayed to her by none other than husband/protein aficionado Justin Theroux) and Smartwater. Lots and lots of Smartwater.
Jen is an ambassador for Smartwater, meaning Smartwater pays her a likely exorbitant sum to star in all its ad campaigns and make statements like, “I drink three to four 23-ounce bottles of Smartwater a day.” I am an ambassador for Smartwater in the sense that I often pay what is definitively an exorbitant price for one 23-ounce bottle that I promptly guzzle and then keep at my desk to refill with plebeian tap from the sink. In other news, apparently margaritas and guacamole are Jen’s so-called indulgences, which is great because my roommate’s birthday dinner took place at a Mexican restaurant in the midst of this exercise, and I made sure to indulge accordingly.
In addition to Smartwater, Jen is also ambassador for the beauty company Aveeno, so I picked up a bottle of its Nourishing Coconut Skin Relief Body Wash at my local teen hangout, also popularly known as Duane Reade. After soaping up in the shower, I sniffed my armpit and contemplated whether I was smelling what Justin Theroux smells when he climbs into bed and nuzzles his gelled locks against Jen’s perfect left nipple.
Now is the point in this article where I discuss Jennifer Aniston’s nipples — because they are indeed perfect and worthy of their own chapter. You may skip this section if you choose, especially if you’re my dad, in which case you most definitely should.
I think I’ve waited my whole life to wax poetic about Jennifer Aniston’s nipples. Okay, that’s an exaggeration: I’ve waited 10 years, which is the amount of time since I first watched Friends and became acquainted with their iconic protrusion. Jen’s nipples were the real star of that popular sitcom, if you ask me. At the very least, I would have preferred Monica to marry them instead of Chandler, but that’s a diatribe for another time.
The nipples make many an appearance throughout the show — in tank tops, slip dresses, you name it. They were and continue to be phenomenon — with actual Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and YouTube montages devoted to them — so I couldn’t, in good conscience, complete a Jennifer Aniston Diet without paying proper homage.
Conveniently, I happen to work alongside a bonafide fake-nipple expert. No, not Samantha Jones, silly goose — Amelia Christina Diamond. She’s taken a plastic pair around the block more than a few times in her day and very generously agreed to loan me some for my own journalistic research.
I donned the fake nipples underneath a white, ribbed tank top — a Jennifer wardrobe staple (don’t worry, I will fully unpack her outfit proclivities in a minute, but right now it’s Nipple Time). I’ve got to admit, they looked pretty good. They certainly felt good — like my own set of lighthouses guiding ships upon the horizon. I took them for an outing to my local coffee shop, where I dared myself to say, “It’s kind of nippy out, isn’t it? I think I’ll do a hot coffee instead of iced.” Don’t worry, dad, I chickened out.
I was very excited to tackle Jennifer’s signature style because it is markedly different from my own. While my inner style monologue frequently seems to be an echo chamber of, Can I add three necklaces to that? And maybe some popsicle-red shoes?, Jen’s is a toast to laid-back, California cool. It is the definition of “easy dressing”: stick-straight hair, blue jeans, plain James Perse T-shirts and tank tops, aviator sunglasses and little black dresses galore.
When I put on a white tank top and jeans and nothing else besides my vigorously straightened blonde locks, I felt more naked than when I’m at the doctor’s office. I snuck on a pair of “un-Jen” yellow slippers as a compromise. Such a Phoebe move.
The naked feeling only intensified that night, when I donned a stretchy, form-fitting, one-shoulder LBD from American Apparel in an attempt to channel Jen’s look from the recent Leftovers premiere. I bought the dress at the beginning of my freshman year of college after deciding I needed more “going out” clothes, as one does. It hasn’t seen daylight (or night light) in half a decade and frankly I’m shocked it is still in my possession because holy Hollywood did it feel weird upon my 25-year-old self. It was just so…adhesive? On the flipside, I felt extremely comfortable repping Jen’s Friends-era style in a recently acquired pair of baggy overalls.
At this point I was nipples-deep in my research, and a weird sensation began to creep over me. I usually feel a deep kinship with my chosen subject — a bond forged by shared experiences and the kind of intimacy only an egg-white-laced bowl of oatmeal can engender. With Jennifer, though, the deeper I dug, the more puzzled I felt. As I read interviews, watched late-night talk-show clips, took Buzzfeed personality quizzes and perused Getty archives, she certainly seemed easy to understand. Funny! Blonde! Loves avocados! America’s sweetheart! But…well…take a look at some quotes I flagged from a few of her interviews (Warning: Material intended for mature audiences. Viewer discretion advised)…
“I wouldn’t change my childhood, I wouldn’t change my heartaches, I wouldn’t change my successes. I wouldn’t change any of it, because I really love who I am, and am continuing to become.” — Vanity Fair, 2005
“I don’t know if I ever really get mad in real life.” — Vogue, 2008
“The most challenging thing right now is trying to find what it is that makes my heart sing” — Marie Claire, 2016
DO YOU HAVE CHILLS? I’m getting them all over again just typing this. Her answers are epically perfect — the real-life manifestation of an inspirational quote board on Pinterest — and you don’t even realize it until you read them boom boom boom right after the other and your hands start to get kind of clammy. I was ultimately forced to ask myself a troubling question, a question that made my blood run cold and my Ryan Seacrest-shaped tattoo throb like Harry Potter’s lightning bolt: Do we have any idea who Jennifer Aniston really is??
Just listen to what she says about her exes:
“There was no malicious intent. I deeply, deeply care about [John Mayer]; we talk, we adore one another. And that’s where it is.” — Vogue, 2008
I mean…????? Jen is either the Messiah or she’s playing us all like a grand piano.
I’m a little terrified, but I’m also in awe. Jennifer Aniston is an enigma — an onion, if you will — and I have only just begun to peel away the top layer. I should probably stop until I find a better knife.
In the meantime, if Smartwater is reading this:
If you liked this escapade, you’ll probably like the Amy Schumer Diet, Hillary Clinton Diet and Gwyneth Paltrow Diet. If celebrity stalking isn’t your cup of tea or cappuccino, how about an iced coffee?
Photos by Edith Young; iPhone photos via Harling Ross.