Jennifer Aniston Opens Up About “Childhood Trauma-Dies”: My Mom Was “Very Critical of Me,” Dyslexia Struggle

Jennifer Aniston in The Hollywood Reporter
Jennifer Aniston opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about her self-described "childhood trauma-dies," including her "very critical" mom and personal struggle with dyslexia -- plus, see new stunning photos of the actress here. Ruven Afanador

Jennifer Aniston did not have a perfect childhood. The actress confessed to The Hollywood Reporter that she struggled with dyslexia and anger issues while growing up with "critical" mom Nancy Dow.

Aniston and Dow were estranged for well over a decade, after Dow penned a memoir about her famous daughter in 1999 called From Mother and Daughter to Friends: A Memoir. At her 2000 wedding to Brad Pitt (whom she also discussed with THR), Aniston memorably excluded her mom from the star-studded invite list. Her father, meanwhile, is former soap star John Aniston, who divorced Dow in 1980.

"She was critical," the Cake actress, 45, revealed of her mother. "She was very critical of me." Aniston, who wears just an oversized sweater on the cover and poses in a bustier for inside photos, pointed to her own looks in contrast to her mother's career as model.

"She was gorgeous, stunning. I wasn’t," said Aniston. "I honestly still don’t think of myself in that sort of light, which is fine."

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Aniston also struggled with dyslexia, but was not diagnosed until her early 20s. "The only reason I knew [that I had it] was because I went to get a prescription for glasses," Aniston recalled. "I had to wear these Buddy Holly glasses. One had a blue lens and one had a red lens. And I had to read a paragraph, and they gave me a quiz, gave me 10 questions based on what I’d just read, and I think I got three right. Then they put a computer on my eyes, showing where my eyes went when I read. My eyes would jump four words and go back two words, and I also had a little bit of a lazy eye, like a crossed eye, which they always have to correct in photos."

She said the diagnosis was life-changing and explained a lot about her childhood issues with self-image and education. "I thought I wasn’t smart. I just couldn’t retain anything," she mused. "Now I had this great discovery. I felt like all of my childhood trauma-dies, tragedies, dramas were explained."

The Friends alum also confessed that she has dealt with anger issues.

"I always thought, if you’re angry you just don’t say anything," she said. "I would come out passive, things would come out passively. But it doesn’t have to be black or white. You don’t have to be a hysterical human being and have veins popping out of your neck and turn bright red and terrify people — or else keep quiet and put your head in the sand. I used to loathe confrontation. Loathe it. It was absolute. I understood anger, but I didn’t know that you should express it. Which has been something that I’ve really tried to work on."

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Now, Aniston is looking to the future. "I’d love to meet [the Dalai Lama]," the actress said. "From the things I’ve read about him, books and lectures, he seems like pure joy, pure, pure, pure enlightenment."

She also shared her plans to hopefully one day open an art studio. "I used to have an art studio and paint and work with clay, and I actually miss it," she said of the hobby. "I was moving storage facilities, and I just found my wheel and my easels and all my books. I found all this stuff, so I may build a little art studio off [the house]."

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