Jennifer Aniston is creating the family she never had as a child.
In a candid new interview with Elle magazine, the actress opens up about the troubled relationship she had with her mother Nancy Dow in her youth and how that has shaped her into the woman she is today.
From a young age, Aniston says she witnessed the dissolution of her parent’s marriage, ultimately leading to a childhood where her mother became an emotionally draining figure in her youth. “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,” the Dumplin’ star recalls.
Eventually, the star and her mother drifted apart, but as Jennifer matured she says she came to the realization that her mom, who was also an actress, was simply trying her best. “My mom said those things because she really loved me. It wasn’t her trying to be a b–ch or knowing she would be making some deep wounds that I would then spend a lot of money to undo,” the 49-year-old reasons. “She did it because that was what she grew up with.”
Instead of being bitter though, Jen claims she chose to “use what I grew up with as an example of what I do not want to be or live in.”
Moreover, Jennifer understands that times were different when she was a child. “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,” Aniston says apologetically.
Nonetheless, she claims was overjoyed to leave her mother’s house. The Friends star adds, “Not that it was horrible and unpleasant, but it had its challenges.”
She reveals that these “unpleasant” experiences fed into her understanding of her character Rosie from Dumplin’, an unapologetic former pageant queen with a young daughter. While the movie mirrors Jen’s fraught relationship with her mother, it’s also a reflection of the strong friendships she created for herself in adulthood. Friendships that seemingly filled the void where parents and family were supposed to be. Aniston says of her and her friends, “We always joke that we raised each other, we mothered each other, we sistered each other, we’ve been kids to each other.”
That in itself seems to be a huge accomplishment for Jen. Because despite all the “bumps” in her life, she can still say she’s truly a “happy 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,” Jen shares.
Read the full interview when this story appears in the January 2019 issue of ELLE on newsstands December 18.