9 Inspiring Celebrity Moms Who Are Changing the Conversation on Women and Motherhood
Since tragically losing her husband Dave Goldberg when he was just 46 years old, the COO of Facebook, author of Lean In, and mom-of-two has been openly discussing grief. "My biggest fear was that my kids would never be happy again, that their happiness would have been wiped away in that same instant we lost Dave," Sandberg told PBS. "There are people who had been through loss and been through real adversity who told me it gets better. And I didn't believe them." Now on the other side of that experience, Sandberg penned a New York Times op-ed about how kids perservere through adversity. And her latest book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy offers advice to others who find themselves trying to cope—or to comfort bereaved loved ones—after loss.
The Oscar-nominated actress, who has two children with her husband Nnamdi Asomugha, is often vocal about various political issues. She's been particularly outspoken about domestic violence, working with the organization V-Day, a global activist movement that aims to end violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM), and sex slavery. Washington first performed at V-Day Harlem in 2002, and she currently serves on the V-Board.
In 2014, Washington told Women's Health, "I was really drawn to V-Day because I fell in love with the play The Vagina Monologues, and that play turned into this global movement to end violence against women. That's always been really exciting for me, that theater can have that kind of impact in the world. I'm very moved by opportunities to have art transform society."
After experiencing a complication during childbirth, former model Christy Turlington was inspired to produce the documentary No Woman, No Cry about maternal health challenges that impact the lives of millions of girls and women around the world. Later, the mom-of-two founded the organization Every Mother Counts to heighten awareness about our global maternal health crisis. She's been weighing in ever since on this tremendously important conversation, one that is an issue worldwide and also very much hits home. Severe maternal morbidity affected more than 50,000 women in the United States between 2013 and 2014 and has been steadily increasing in recent years.
The model and mom-of-two, who gave birth to second son Bowie Juniper just last year, has made headlines for speaking out about body positivity and inclusivity. She's the mastermind behind the body-positive hashtag and movement "#effyourbeautystandards," which was started in late 2014. Today, in her social media posts and interviews, Holliday continues to advance the conversation around not only unrealistic beauty standards but how they relate to feminism and motherhood.
Beyoncé isn't just an internationally adored superstar, businesswoman, and mom-of-three. She's also an activist who recently used her extremely public platform to stir awareness around Black Lives Matter. She brought the mothers of gun violence victims Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, and Trayvon Martin to the 2016 MTV VMAs. Several of the moms also appeared on Bey's visual album Lemonade. And in July 2016, she released a powerful statement about the tragic deaths of two young black men. "This is a human fight," Beyoncé wrote. "No matter your race, gender, or sexual orientation. This is a fight for anyone who feels marginalized, who is struggling for freedom and human rights. This is not a plea to all police officers but toward any human being who fails to value life. The war on people of color and all minorities needs to be over."
Alicia Keys, who has two sweet sons with her husband Swizz Beatz, has been going makeup-free since last summer, getting in on the #NoMakeup movement and showing up to several high-profile events sans cosmetics. That said, she's all about other women doing whatever works for them. "Y'all, me choosing to be makeup free doesn't mean I'm anti-makeup. Do you!" she wrote on Twitter.
The reason for Keys' own shift, however, she explained in an essay she wrote for Lena Dunham's Lenny Letter: "I hope to God it's a revolution. 'Cause I don't want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing." Bravo to that!
Academy Award-nominated actress and mom-of-three Jennifer Garner has been an ambassador for Save the Children—an organization that aims to give children around the world and in the U.S. a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn, and protection from harm—and currently serves on their Board of Trustees. On behalf of the group, she appeared before the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Subcommittee in March 2017, asking that lawmakers provide more funding to poverty-stricken children and early childhood education. The cause is one that is particularly close to Garner's heart, as she grew up in West Virginia around poverty.
"Mothers come up to me and say, 'Can you help get my child into these programs? Can you just nudge us up in the wait-list? Is there anything you can do?'" Garner said, in her testament on Capitol Hill, of her work with Save the Children. "The thought that I would have to go back to these mothers and say, 'Well, no, there is nothing that I can do.' ....These families know what it is to have this intervention, and they know what they're losing when it's gone, and I'll have to answer to it."
Kristen Bell, who has two daughters with her husband Dax Shepard, has been vocal about many social issues she feels strongly about. But one of the most personal has to be battling the stigma around mental illness, as Bell herself has struggled with depression.
In a piece for Time.com's Motto, the Bad Moms actress pointed out that although the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 20 percent of American adults face some kind of mental illness in their lifetime, we're not talking about it nearly enough. "It's a knee-jerk reaction to judge people when they're vulnerable. But there's nothing weak about struggling with mental illness," Bell wrote. "You're just having a harder time living in your brain than other people. And I don't want you to feel alone."
The model, who gave birth to her first child, daughter Luna, with husband John Legend in 2016, revealed to Parents.com that her former struggles with postpartum depression haven’t intimidated her from moving forward with baby number two.
“There is no way it can be as bad or as dark as it was the first time—it never crossed my mind that I had it until way too late. I hope anyone out there reading this who has friends that are about to give birth or just had a baby and might show some signs, knows it’s really important to just bring it up because nobody around me was ever like, ‘I just want to talk to you about something,’ or ‘Are you ok? Are you doing ok?’” Teigen explained. “I think that would have helped a lot. I didn't really know anything until I had gone to my doctor and it was just so obvious to him that I had it—the second he said it I just started crying and I was like, ‘That has to be it.’”
Thankfully, because Teigen is so beloved for her real talk, coming out as a new mom battling PPD has reignited discussions and societal awareness around the issue. And as Teigen continues to document her journey, we continue to be inspired.