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Dolly Parton is a living legend. Even for non-country music fans, Parton’s name has become a household staple worldwide. And what isn’t to love? She’s the embodiment of a successful woman full of joy and love for others. Parton is likely one of the most unproblematic celebrities around.

 

But not even the loveable Dolly Parton could escape the question that’s heaped onto all women, famous or not. What about children?

 

Even with her musical and humanitarian contributions, Parton fell short of the traditional expectation of motherhood. It isn’t enough that she and husband Carl Dean have enjoyed a long marriage of over fifty years. Some overlook her successful marriage and jump straight into wondering why the pair never had kids.

 

In an interview, Parton was asked that very question. She explained, even though she didn’t have to, that children were just something that wasn’t meant to be for her and her husband. Parton handled that intrusive personal inquiry gracefully, and I think she was a good sport for even answering.

 

Like Parton, women are often interrogated about children. A rigid stigma still exists in the twenty-first century toward childless women. Hardly anyone will ask why women have children, but they will be interrogated about why they don’t have any. This applies to all childless women, whether they be rich, poor or, in Parton’s case, a world-renowned country singer.

 

The personal, private reasons for remaining childfree are not the public’s business. On that note, reproductive choices should never be exploited to shame women. There are so many factors involved behind the scenes, such as health concerns, finances, mental illness or infertility. Parton could have been hindered from motherhood for a variety of circumstances, all of which are still nobody’s business but hers.

 

I think many will agree that Parton has had a full life, a life filled with success as a singer and a humanitarian. It would be degrading to measure the quality of Parton’s life based on her reproductive choices. Contrary to traditional belief, women can enjoy a fulfilled life without kids. Parton is a shining example of this.

 

Surveying her numerous accomplishments and charity work, it’s safe to say Parton has made an impact on the world. This is not only because of her talent, but also her compassion and kindness. Shouldn’t we view women as more than their children, existent or not?

 

Not all women need children to be content. Not all women want to be mothers. Some women want kids, but the circumstances just aren’t right. Regardless of where a woman stands in respect to motherhood, she will always have her own victories worth celebrating.

 

A woman’s life is not defined by children. Like Dolly Parton, a woman is already a powerful force all her own.

~Anna Tye

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