Jennifer Aniston Says Model Mother Was "Very Critical" of Her Looks
Nancy Dow also wrote a memoir about their distant relationship.
Jennifer Aniston is one of the most famous faces in Hollywood, and because of that, she's faced endless amounts of both praise and criticism for her appearance. But, as the Friends star has explained, she was being judged for her looks long before she started working as an actor. In several interviews over the years, Aniston has shared that her mother, Nancy Dow, was critical of her appearance when she was growing up. In fact, it was processing those comments that inspired her to make one of her movies.
Read on to see what Aniston has shared about her late mom and their strained relationship.
Dow was a model and actor.
Aniston comes from a show business family—both of her parents were performers. Dow was a model and actor; she appeared on several TV series in the 1960s, including The Wild Wild West and The Beverly Hillbillies. The Friends star's father, John Aniston, played Victor Kiriakis on Days of Our Lives for almost 40 years. The couple split when Aniston was nine years old. Dow passed away in 2016, while John died in 2022.
Aniston says her mother's comments about her appearance left "deep wounds."
In a 2015 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Aniston said of Dow, "She was critical. She was very critical of me. Because she was a model, she was gorgeous, stunning. I wasn't. I never was. I honestly still don't think of myself in that sort of light, which is fine."
Similarly, Aniston told Elle of her mother in 2018, "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."
But, the actor added, she understands that Dow's intentions were good. "My mom said those things because she really loved me. It wasn't her trying to be a [expletive] or knowing she would be making some deep wounds that I would then spend a lot of money to undo," Aniston said. "She did it because that was what she grew up with. 'You want to be happy. It's hard for big girls.' 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."
Their relationship inspired one of her roles.
Aniston starred in and co-produced the 2018 movie Dumplin', which is about a former pageant queen mom (Aniston) and her relationship with her teenage daughter (Danielle Macdonald), who is in a larger body. She revealed around the film's release that her relationship with her own mom drew her to the project.
"One of the reasons I really loved the mother-daughter aspect of it was because it was very similar in a way to what my mother, and our relationship, was," Aniston told The Sunday Telegraph in 2018 (via People).
"She was a model and she was all about presentation and what she looked like and what I looked like," the Morning Show star continued. "I did not come out the model child she'd hoped for and it was something that really resonated with me, this little girl just wanting to be seen and wanting to be loved by a mum who was too occupied with things that didn't quite matter."
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Aniston and Dow moved past their issues.
Dow and Aniston had other issues that caused them to be estranged for some time. Aniston told The Hollywood Reporter that Dow had "a temper." She added, "She was also very unforgiving. She would hold grudges that I just found so petty."
Dow's book From Mother and Daughter to Friends: A Memoir, which detailed her strained relationship with Aniston, was published in 1999. People reported that the book widened the rift between them.
However, they made amends before Dow's 2016 death.
Aniston spoke about making up with Dow during a 2022 interview with Allure. "I forgave my mom," she said. "I forgave my father. I've forgiven my family."
"It's important," she continued. "It's toxic to have that resentment, that anger. I learned that by watching my mom never let go of it. I remember saying, 'Thank you for showing me what never to be.' So that's what I mean about taking the darker things that happen in our lives, the not-so-happy moments, and trying to find places to honor them because of what they have given to us."