Many mothers will tell you that motherhood is the most beautiful and fulfilling experience of their lives. Unsurprisingly, many will also tell you it comes with many sacrifices in multiple areas of life, including their careers. While some have had to choose between motherhood and career, others have made motherhood a part of their brand and incorporated their family life into their work. This has been most visible among an increasing number of female celebrities, including some who initially advised against having children if they wanted to further their careers.
When rapper Cardi B announced she was pregnant with her first child in 2018, bloggers, musician journalists, and netizens said having a child would derail her career. She was an up-and-coming rapper seen to be heading for greatness. Taking any time out for motherhood in her early career was seen as a mistake by many. However, six weeks after giving birth Cardi B opened the MTV Video Music Awards with a performance and took home the award for best new artist. In her acceptance speech, she referred to people who said she was gambling with her career by having a baby and added, “I carried a baby, and I’m still winning awards!”
More recently, pop star and businesswoman Rihanna used her Superbowl performance to reveal her second pregnancy. I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember who won the football game, but I remember the musical performance and the pregnancy reveal. And who could forget the reveal of her first pregnancy in January 2022, walking the streets of New York in winter with her pink coat unbuttoned to reveal a baby bump. Rihanna already had fashion icon status before her first pregnancy, but her pregnancy style cemented her fashion icon status and brought her more publicity.
In February 2023, pop star Pink (a mother of two) revealed that she had been advised against having kids early in her career. Reflecting on motherhood and the advice she had received, Pink shared that having children brought out a new energy and a new side to her, which was something she could channel into her music.
Beyonce is another celebrity that has made motherhood, a mother of three, a part of her career and public persona. When Beyonce revealed she was pregnant with twins by sharing an image from a maternity shoot, this went on to become the most-liked Instagram photo of 2017 (and for several months, it was the most-liked Instagram photo of all time). She has also chronicled her journey to motherhood in a documentary called Life is But a Dream. Blue Ivy (11), Beyonce’s first child, has appeared in several of her mother’s music videos and advertising campaigns, accompanies her to countless award shows and has provided backing vocals on the hit song ”Brown Skin Girl.”
Before Beyonce broke the internet with her pregnancy reveal, Demi Moore appeared on the August 1991 cover of Vanity Fair magazine, heavily pregnant and in the nude. It was considered somewhat controversial at the time but is seen by many as one of the greatest magazine covers of all time. Little did people know at the time that pregnancy reveals by celebrities would continue to make waves and that they would become career-defining moments for many more female celebrities.
Celebrities that have made motherhood a part of their brand include Gabrielle Union, Chrissy Teigen and Angelina Jolie. It is also becoming more common for stars to have public social media accounts chronicling their children’s lives, in some cases from infancy, as done by celebrities such as Gabrielle Union and South African DJ Zinhle.
In the Zambian context, media personality Lulu Haangala-Wood incorporated motherhood into her work. She hosts the cooking show Wood Kitchen with her husband and has, on many occasions, brought her children onto the show, cooking with them and sharing meals with them. Local podcaster Mainza Kawanu, better known as The Urban Evangelist, has also incorporated motherhood in her public persona and discusses an issue not addressed in Zambian society, autism. Mainza and her husband have a child with autism, a topic she discusses candidly on her podcast and other platforms.
Outside celebrity circles and the world of public figures, more and more women are having successful careers and running thriving businesses while balancing motherhood. These women, nicknamed mompreneurs, are starting their businesses while raising children. They are taking control of their careers and creating companies that fit their lifestyles and values. These women are often driven by a desire for greater flexibility and control over their schedules and a passion for their work.
They demonstrate that motherhood and entrepreneurship are not mutually exclusive and that balancing both with the proper support and mindset is possible; women can involve their children in their businesses, teaching them valuable skills and creating a family legacy that can be passed down for generations.
Moreover, mompreneurs are also changing the face of entrepreneurship, bringing diversity and fresh perspectives to the business world. They are often women who have faced challenges and discrimination in their careers but have found ways to overcome them and create successful businesses on their terms.
Female celebrities and mompreneurs have used their platforms to celebrate and prioritise motherhood and family life. They have been vocal about their struggles and triumphs, inspiring and empowering other women to embrace their roles as mothers and caregivers. Their commitment to motherhood has enriched their personal lives and created a positive impact on society as a whole.
Images by Ivy Park/Adidas, Dia Dipasupil/WIREIMAGE, Inez and Vinoodh Diggzy