As you may know through either experience or exposure, women are analysed and scrutinised in every aspect of their lives. The decisions they make, the clothes they wear, the people they’re with and the qualities they carry. Nothing’s left unjudged.

One topic that’s constantly being unnecessarily and disrespectfully discussed is why some women don’t have a child, whether by choice or by circumstance, and whether that makes them any less of a woman or any less worthy or respectable compared to those who do.

You may have recently read Jennifer Aniston’s article on the issue, “For the Record“, which inspired me to write this post. Aniston is probably the media’s most targeted victim when it comes to pregnancy speculation and gossip and her image and value are constantly being scrutinised because of it.

She began simply by setting the (broken) record straight. “For the record, I am not pregnant. What I am is fed up. I’m fed up with the sport-like scrutiny and body shaming that occurs daily under the guise of “journalism,” the “First Amendment” and “celebrity news.””.

Body shaming is a direct issue that arises through speculating whether a person is pregnant or not. Aniston especially experiences it, as the paparazzi are perpetually photographing her body for the tabloids to then go and shamelessly analyse. If her figure doesn’t match up to the standards of image created to judge women upon even further, then they’ll immediately begin to start the rumours. “Oh my god, her stomach isn’t flat in this picture!! She must be pregnant!!”

How can you not realise how insulting and insensitive that is to not just her, but to all women who may not conform to one specific body type?

“The way I am portrayed by the media is simply a reflection of how we see and portray women in general, measured against some warped standard of beauty.”

She then went on to discuss how society seems to define women based on their maternal and marital status. “We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete” – which is exactly right. A woman should not be defined by whether she’s single or whether she’s without a child. She should not be questioned and her worth should not be taken away as a result.

Being a mother and being a worthy woman are not mutually exclusive. If you haven’t had a child, you’re not a failure and you’re not any less of a woman. You’re simply human. Our lives are made up of choices, and the option to have a child is just another choice that a woman can either choose to make or not. It’s not a necessity. It’s simply a choice.

It’s worth saying too, that nurturing and maternal qualities are not solely restricted to those who have a child of their own. Sure, it could be said that being a mother may open you up to displaying those qualities further, but that’s not to say that nobody else can possess them too.

Whether a woman is caring or empowering is because of who she is as a person. How she was brought up, who she was influenced by, who she wants to be – basically everything other than whether or not she’s a mother.

Why a woman may choose not to have a child is no-ones concern but hers. It’s high time society stopped pressurising and planning out our lives for us. Would a man be considered any less of a man if he decided he didn’t want children? No. Of course he wouldn’t. Because society seems to solely focus on dragging women through the dirt for doing nothing other than living their life to their choosing.

Stop speculating over something so trivial. Stop debating over decisions that are out of your concern. Stop questioning the choices we make just because they don’t fit in with what you consider to be “normal”. A woman is worthy of whatever she wants to be and importantly, who she chooses to be. Her worth cannot be measured and it cannot be taken away because she hasn’t ticked off a particular box on life’s long list of options.

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