Oprah Winfrey nails the problem with the term “childless woman”

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Kayleigh Dray
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Oprah Winfrey has forged a career as an actor, talk show host, author, producer and philanthropist. Yet, even at the age of 63, she still has people asking why she chose never to have children with her long-term partner, Stedman Graham.

What people fail to realise, however, is that Winfrey feels no less a mother for not having given birth or changed nappies.

In 2007, the star founded the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, a boarding school in South Africa which houses 172 girls.

And, speaking to Good Housekeeping magazine, Winfrey explained that the project makes her feel as if she has children of her own.

“It is more rewarding than I would ever have imagined. I was doing this to help them, but it has brought a light to my life that I can’t explain.

“When people were pressuring me to get married and have children, I knew I was not going to be a person that ever regretted not having them, because I feel like I am a mother to the world’s children.”

Winfrey, who lost a premature baby son, Canaan, when she was 14 years old, continued: “Love knows no boundaries. It doesn’t matter if a child came from your womb or if you found that person at age two, 10 or 20. If the love is real, the caring is pure and it comes from a good space, it works.”

She added: “For me it was perfect, because I didn’t want babies. I wouldn’t have been a good mom for babies. I don’t have the patience. I have the patience for puppies, but that’s a quick stage! But this is so rewarding.”

Winfrey is not the first woman in the spotlight to make such a point; Sex and the City’s Kim Cattrall has previously spoken out about her frustrations over being labelled “childless”.

“It’s the ‘less’ that is offensive” she says in the interview on Woman's Hour in 2015. “Childless – it sounds like you’re less because you haven’t had a child.”

“The thing that I find questionable about being childless and child-free – are you really? I mean there is a way to become a mother in this day and age that doesn't include your name on the child's birth certificate. You can express that maternal side of you very clearly, very strongly.”

Cattrall added: “I am not a biological parent, but I am a parent. I have young actors and actresses that I mentor, I have nieces and nephews that I am very close to.

“I didn’t change nappies, which is okay with me, but I did help my niece get through medical school. I did sit down with my nephew when he was [going through] a very tough time to join the army. And those are very motherly things to do, very nurturing things to do. So I feel I am a mother of sorts.

“I am not completely child-free, because I care about the next generation.” 

Images: Rex Pictures



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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.