I was just in Zihuatanejo, Mexico (pictured) for several days. At the local market you see many women running the produce, poultry and meat stalls. There and just walking the streets—all over—you see so many young women who are already mothers, some already with more than one child. Now I know this is not an uncommon sight. The culture is different, and more women there get married and begin having babies much earlier than young women here. But is that so? Lori Bradley’s piece on the Married No Kids site on Bella Online, “Images of Pregnancy are Ubiquitous in Media Today” discusses how the barrage of celebrity pregnancies can affect lives, namely the “seemingly sudden embrace of motherhood by very young, unmarried women.” With the influences of celebrities, movie roles like Juno, young women are getting pregnant, and do not necessarily raise the child with its father, but rely on help from their parents or grandparents.
Mexican women face powerful cultural influences to become mothers and to do so early in life. Many women feel pressure to have kids in our country, but not encouraged to become mothers so early —They are encouraged to “wait and live a little first.” But as Bradley puts it, “the barrage of pregnancy images” by the media definitely influences young women, and this influence can be devastating if it leads them to want to become mothers before they are really old enough to realize the decision they are making and its impact on the rest of their life.
Whether it’s the power of culture or media, or the shades of influence in between, young women need more role models that show them the many faces of womanhood. Young women need to see that womanhood is not synonymous with motherhood.
They need to be more exposed to women that model the reality that motherhood can be part of womanhood if they want it to be.
And role models there are. Start with those in the media. Many childfree celebs do speak out but not nearly enough. We read quotes here and there, but young women need to really hear from popular female figures who do not consider motherhood an essential part of living a fabulous life.
Oprah could be such a platform for this. Imagine a show dedicated to hearing from a host of popular women figures, including Oprah herself, about their choice not to have children, their lives, and what they want to impart onto young women about what it means to be a woman. What a show that would be, and would only create similar media buzz.
Write Oprah and ask her to do a show like this~I have and will again. Media images of pregnancy need to be matched with other images of a full life as a woman, and all that this can mean. If more of this can be shown by icons like Oprah, not only will young women see more of this here in our country, but so will young women around the world, in countries like Mexico~