Most days, it feels like everyone on the planet is procreating except for me.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m lucky to be surrounded by strong, inspiring moms whom I admire. I know so many who are the epitome of balance, warmth and strength. There’s also a slew of celebrity moms who I love like Jessica Alba, Drew Barrymore, Sheryl Sandberg and roughly 9 million others. There’s no shortage of amazing moms I look up to.
But as my journey to parenthood keeps getting longer and longer, I’m realizing that this habit of idealizing moms isn’t a healthy narrative for me. I need a new group of role models; a new set of women to inspire and empower me. Women who changed the world with their art, music, politics, personality, voice, and strength. And never had kids.
So here’s my list of badass, strong, creative women who changed the world and created an invaluable legacy, all without children.
Winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, Mary Oliver is one of the most beloved American poets of all-time. Oliver met her partner of over 40 years, Molly Malone Cook, in the late 1950s. The two worked, lived and loved in Provincetown, Massachusetts, blissfully and without children.
The iconic Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, lived a physically painful yet creatively prolific life. She married Diego Rivera, another famous painter, and the two were unable to conceive due to a bus accident that impaled Frida’s pelvis when she was 18 years old. When Frida was 25, she experienced a miscarriage that caused a serious hemorrhage and left her hospitalized for two weeks. She’d later go on to be one of the most beloved, revered and recognizable painters in history.
Media maven Oprah Winfrey has been quite vocal in her decision to be childless. She’s shared that her desire to be a changemaker in the world overrode her desire to be a mother. That said, Oprah did have a stillborn baby when she was only 14 years old. This woman is fierce, fantastic and the epitome of ambition.
Singer. Actress. Author. Dolly Parton isn’t only insanely talented, she’s an icon. And she also doesn’t have any kids. When she was asked about it a few years ago, she said, “I make a better godmother and an aunt than I would a mother because I was always so involved in my own things.” She also has her own damn theme park, so…she’s doing pretty well for herself, no?
Steinem is a personal hero of mine and has spent her whole life writing, reporting, speaking and standing up for gender equality. Her curiosity, passion and courage is something all people should aspire to achieve. She proudly never had children and said, “Everybody with a womb doesn’t have to have a child any more than everybody with vocal cords has to be an opera singer.” Preach on.
Have you heard of this small indie band called “Blondie?” Well, they’re freakin’ atomic. Rock singer and professional badass, Debbie Harry, is also in our little “Not a Mom” club. She’s admitted having mixed feelings about the decision not to have kids now that she’s in her 60s, but she’s proud of being drug-free since the 1990s.
Lily Tomlin is an American treasure (and also an actress, producer, comedian and writer. Her character “Edith Ann” is part of one of my favorite memories from childhood. Today, she’s hilarious on the Netflix show Grace & Frankie. She and her wife Jane Wagner decided they never wanted kids, even though Tomlin once admitted it might be cool to have a mini-clone of yourself.
There are a TON of other badass ladies who never had kids, including Helen Mirren, Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Stevie Nicks, Elizabeth Gilbert and even Coco Chanel. And let’s not forget about Jennifer Aniston who can’t wear a tight dress without being on the cover of every tasteless tabloid with the headline “JEN, FINALLY PREG?” No. Just no.
Who are some of your favorite female artists, performers, politicians, culture makers who never had children? What do you love about them? Share below in the comments!