For many women, having children is not a given. A variety of factors, both in an out of our control, mean the subject is a cause of internal debate, consideration and worry for thousands of us.
So those nosy relatives and inappropriate colleagues who bring up the question of why we haven't procreated are, quite frankly, a major bugbear of ours.
Thus we can only imagine what is must be like to be a Hollywood actress over 30, for whom it's pretty much guaranteed that you will be relentlessly quizzed on a.) why you don't have kids, b.) whether you want them and c.) If the answer's no, why the hell not?
Quite when a woman's uterus became the sum total of her being remains a mystery.
But the fact is that no matter how successful and fulfilled these people are, they face relentless pressure about their child free status - along with an unsaid implication that they're somehow missing out by not reproducing.
Kudos then, to figures such as Jennifer Aniston who have made a stand by calling out the baby-grillers.
"I don't have this sort of checklist of things that have to be done, and...if they're not checked, then I've failed some part of my feminism," the Friends actress said recently.
She's joined by a host of stars who either have never felt the need to have children and/or resent the implication that they are less of a person for not having them.
Some of these ladies, like Renee Zellweger and Cameron Diaz, have never been drawn to motherhood and don't regard it as a means of completing them. Others, like Katherine Hepburn, Helen Mirren and Zooey Deschanel, prefer to prioritise their careers. Still more, like Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi, have thought about it before rejecting the idea. As Jon Hamm's partner, the actress Jennifer Westfeldt says, "The chance that we’ll regret it doesn’t seem like a compelling enough reason to do it".
Whether or not to have kids is a complex issue and there's another category of people, like SATC star Kim Cattrall, who freely admit they may have wanted kids at some point but have figured out it's just not to be.
What draws these women together is their willingness and honesty in talking about being child free, their happiness as fulfilled individuals without the need for kids and their refusal to bow to public pressure on the whole will-she-won't-she motherhood issue. Come see what they have to say:
"It's so much more work to have children. To have lives besides your own that you are responsible for - I didn't take that on. A baby – that's all day, every day for 18 years. Not having a baby might really make things easier, but that doesn't make it an easy decision. I like protecting people, but I was never drawn to being a mother. I have it so much easier than any of them. That's just what it is. Doesn't mean life isn't sometimes hard. It's just what I am. I work on what I am. Right now, I think, things are good for me. I've done a lot. And I don't care anymore."
- Esquire, July 2014
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi
"People are constantly asking Portia and me if we are going to have children. We thought about it. We love to be around children after they've been fed and bathed. But we ultimately decided that we don't want children of our own. There is far too much glass in our house."
- from Ellen's book Seriously…I’m Kidding, 2001
"It is such an issue of, like, 'Are you married yet? Are you going to have your babies yet?' I don't have this sort of checklist of things that have to be done, and...if they're not checked, then I've failed some part of my feminism or my being a woman or my worth and my value as a woman because I haven't birthed a child. I've birthed a lot of things, and I feel like I've mothered many things. And I don't feel like it's fair to put that pressure on people."
- The Today show with Carson Daly, August 2014
"I had such a wonderful upbringing that I had a very high standard of how a mother and father should behave. I couldn't be that way and carry on a movie career."
- People magazine, 1990
"I never felt the need for a child and never felt the loss of it. I'd always put my work before anything."
- AARP, June 2014
"I grew up in a big old family with eight kids younger than me and several of my brothers and sisters came to live with me early on in my life. I've loved their kids just like they're my grandkids, and now I've got great-grand-kids! Now I'm GeeGee, which is great-granny. I often think, it just wasn't meant for me to have kids so everybody's kids can be mine."
- People Country, May 2014
"This is a little personal but I’m 42 and… Well, I was talking to my dad last year and saying, 'What if I can’t have a kid?' and he said, 'There are other ways to have children in your life.' That’s true – and I get these amazing doses with my brother’s kids. But I’ve got to stop listening to other people. It’s crazy the stuff women will tell you."
- The Telegraph, March 2014
"If I had kids, my kids would hate me. They would have ended up on the equivalent of the Oprah show talking about me; because something [in my life] would have had to suffer and it would've probably been them."
- The Hollywood Reporter, December 2013
"Motherhood has never been an ambition. I don’t think like that/ I never have expectations like, 'When I’m 19 I’m going to do this, and by the time I’ve hit 25 I’m going to do that'. I just take things as they come, each day at a time, and if things happen, all well and good. I just want to be independent and be able to take care of myself. Anything else is just gravy."
- The Times, 2008
"When I answered those questions regarding having children, I realized that so much of the pressure I was feeling was from outside sources, and I knew I wasn't ready to take that step into motherhood. Since then I've found other ways to fulfill my maternal instincts - when a young actress comes to me for advice about her career, or when I give a talk at a school, babysit my friends' kids, or work with children's charities or organizations... Being a biological mother just isn't part of my experience this time around."
- O, The Oprah Magazine, 2003
"I don’t have children, and I am not sure if I have wanted them or never wanted them. It’s weird not to be able to decide... I don’t know if I could stand that kind of commitment, or, if I am really honest, I don’t think I could handle being that vulnerable to someone else. My child would have my heart completely — having never truly given that over, in all my relationships in my life, starting with myself, I wouldn’t even know where to begin."
- Margaret Choo blog post, 2012
"I don't think I'd be a great mother. I don't want to have a kid and have it raised by a nanny. I don't have the time to raise a child. Childhood was heartbreaking enough for anybody. I don't know that I could handle my own child, especially if I had a girl, going through what I went through growing up. Not that it was so traumatic, but in many ways, it was in your own way."
- On The Conversation With Amanda de Cadenet, April 2013
"I don't regret not having children... I am very much at peace with that. Perhaps I do have that occasional twinge, but you can't do everything... ‘I always had cats and animals, so children were never really in my thoughts."
- Daily Mail, January 2013
Dita Von Teese
"My sisters have children. I love children but at this stage of my life ... I was married to someone who was not cut-out to be a father [Marilyn Manson, whom she divorced in 2006]. He could hardly take care of himself, let alone a child, so I changed my views, adapted accordingly, thought: 'It's OK not to have children.' Now I'm just going to watch how my life unfolds and see what happens. I'm not going to be less of a person if I don't have children. It will work out the way it is supposed to."
- The Independent, July 2007
"I'm not that big a fan of marriage as an institution, and I don't know why women need to have children to be seen as complete human beings."
- Manhattan Magazine, 2009
"It’s not like I want to have children, I tried that, didn’t work unfortunately. It helped me because now I work with all kinds of children all over the world. Brain damaged children and I work with kids with AIDS and that’s how I’ve rationalized [not having kids]. I was meant to do something else."
- Access Hollywood Live, April 2012
"I’ve thought about this a lot lately. I never thought I’d be this age and not have kids. But my life has also gone in a million ways I never anticipated. I kept feeling like I’d wake up with absolute clarity, and I haven’t. And we have a pretty great life together. The chance that we’ll regret it doesn’t seem like a compelling enough reason to do it."
- The New York Magazine, March 2012
"I figured it was selfish for us to pour our resources into making our ‘own’ babies when those very resources and energy could not only help children already here, but through advocacy and service transform the world into a place where no child ever needs to be born into poverty and abuse again. My belief has not changed. It is a big part of who I am."
- Ashley's memoir All That Is Bitter and Sweet, 2011
"There have been times when I wanted children and other times I've been grateful not to have them. I am a mess if I have to say goodbye to my dog for longer than five days. I don't know how I would deal with kissing my children as I left for work. I know there are women who are able to do that. I don't know if I could."
- cinema.com, 2000