Celebs Who Were Shamed For Having Kids

The following article contains references to homophobia and racism

From the snarky chatter of UK forums such as Mumsnet to social media users who devote their time to picking out the foibles in familial dynamics, parent shaming is arguably at an all time high. And as the celeb parents in this rundown have discovered the hard way, no one, no matter how rich or powerful, is immune from the watchful gaze of online tattlers. It may, however, be one thing to call out a celeb for their parenting, but it's quite another to shame stars for having kids in the first place.

Women are more prone to being heavily scrutinized for their parenting, or perceived lack thereof, with mom shaming becoming a ubiquitous part of the Twitterverse. In many instances, female celebrities are called out for having children later in life. As NBC News argues, women bear the brunt of this double standard, as male celebs are lauded for welcoming kids in their golden years. We can't help but wonder whether this same vitriol would be directed at Charlie Chaplin, who had his youngest child at 73, had he been alive in the social media age. However, as we shall soon discover, male celebs have also found themselves on the receiving end of undue scrutiny over their decision to have children. And more often than not, it's LGBTQ men who are unfairly criticized.

In addition to the pressures of raising kids, these stars have had to contend with the finger-wagging of parent-shamers. Here's the lowdown on the celebs who were shamed for having kids.

Kate Winslet was shamed for having children by different men

When Kate Winslet announced that she was pregnant with her third child in 2013, tabloids began shaming her for having three children by three different men. The Daily Mail claimed that the Oscar-winner's love life was a mess, noting that users of Mumsnet had given her the cruel nickname "3x3" in response to her family dynamic. The outlet was so invested in seemingly shaming Winslet that they did a deep dive into her love life, interviewing pals who purported that the actor's traumatic childhood (she was horrifically bullied at school) led to her complicated motherhood journey. Meanwhile, The Telegraph claimed that Winslet ought to feel ashamed of having children by different men: "To the outside world, Kate, it just looks tacky. Three children by three different fathers doesn't look good on anyone."

However, many have suggested that Winslet is a victim of slut-shaming. As Cosmopolitan highlights, such contempt would never be levied at a man of the actor's status. Similarly, Slate called out her shamers for suggesting that children born to different fathers are somehow less loved than those raised in traditional nuclear families.

In an interview with Glamour (via People), Winslet wittily hit back at the haters, stating that she couldn't comprehend why folks are so invested in her personal life: "It's very easy to be judgmental until you know someone's truth ... I'm really sorry to the nation's press that I fell in love and got pregnant; I do apologize if you deem that irresponsible."

Hoda Kotb was shamed for having kids in her 50s

As a breast cancer survivor, Hoda Kotb began experiencing fertility struggles following a double mastectomy. At the time, she was in her early 40s and was told that freezing her eggs was highly unlikely to result in pregnancy given her age and cancer treatment. "The reality seemed impossible to bear," she told Good Housekeeping (via People). "How do you survive knowing you can't have what you desire and what you feel like you actually physically need?" But Kotb was able to fulfill her dreams of becoming a mom.

In 2017, she adopted her first child, Haley Joy, at the age of 52. Two years later, she welcomed a second daughter, Hope Catherine, who was also adopted. The "Today" host may have been overjoyed at becoming a mom, but that didn't stop haters from trying to rain on her parade.

In an episode of "Today," she revealed that she was shamed for having children in her 50s. The host said that she received a cruel letter from a fan, who accused her of being selfish. "I opened the letter and it was something along the lines of 'how dare you bring a child into this world at your age? Don't you know what you're doing to that child?'" she said. But as Kotb reasoned, one never truly knows when they will lose their parents (her own father died when she was of college age), and it's the memories and values that parents instill that matter the most.

Jamie Lynn Spears says she was called out for her teen pregnancy

In 2007, 16-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears announced that she was pregnant with her first child. The youngster appeared on the cover of OK! Magazine and revealed that she was planning on keeping her baby. However, she made it perfectly clear that she was not advocating teen pregnancy and her decision to have a baby was hers and hers alone. "I definitely don't think it's something you should do; it's better to wait," she said. "But I can't be judgmental because it's a position I put myself in." Spears may have urged others to hold off their judgment, but that didn't stop both members of the general public and the media from shaming the "Zoey 101" star.

As The New York Times noted at the time, both fans of the show and their parents shamed Spears for getting pregnant. "She was supposed to be one of the good, clean actresses for girls to follow after," one such parent lamented. Others accused Spears of glamorizing teen pregnancy, even insinuating that she deliberately got pregnant to enjoy her fifteen minutes of fame.

Opening up about the ordeal to "Good Morning America" in 2022, Spears called out those who sought to shame a vulnerable teenage girl. "I look back and I think, 'Wow, how is this acceptable?'" she reflected. "Why are you here other than to shame me and to benefit off of a young girl who's going through something already so traumatic and so deep and personal?"

Serena Williams was targeted by racists for having a mixed-race baby

After becoming engaged to her beau Alexis Ohanian in 2016, tennis superstar Serena Williams revealed that the couple was expecting their first child. Their daughter was born in September 2017. Despite her elation at becoming a mom, Williams was subjected to racist hate for having a mixed-race child. Former tennis player Ilie Nastase made a hateful comment about Williams' unborn child at a press conference, remarking, "Let's see what color it has," before suggesting that the baby's skin tone would resemble chocolate.

On Instagram, the tennis pro called out Nastase for racially abusing her and her baby. "It disappoints me to know we live in a society in which people like Ilie Nastase can make such racist comments towards myself and unborn child," she wrote. Nastase, who justified his bigoted remarks by claiming that racial sensitivity isn't prevalent in his native Romania, was given a four year ban from official tennis roles. Fortune argued that his remarks are part of a wider societal racism that interracial parents have to contend with.

In addition to the racist reaction to her pregnancy, Williams was shamed for having a baby while working. For instance, she lost her French Open ranking after going on maternity leave. "There will be a certain segment of the population upset that she didn't choose to be a full-time mother," history professor Lou Moore told Rewire News Group. "That narrative won't leave women's sports."

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Tabloids shamed Elton John for having children

When Elton John and his husband David Furnish welcomed their first son, Zachary, in 2010, the couple was delighted. But unfortunately, not everyone shared their enthusiasm. In a cruel column for the Daily Mail, Alison Boshoff, who incidentally also wrote the aforementioned Kate Winslet article, asserted that John's son was little more than a Christmas present. Moreover, Boshoff inexplicably claimed that the singer's desire for a baby was yet another one of his materialist obsessions, akin to shopping. There's, undeniably, an apparent homophobic undercurrent to such arguments.

John was also targeted by the religious right, who shamed him for having kids as both a gay man and an older parent. Speaking to The Telegraph, Church of England bishop Michael Nazir-Ali claimed that John was going to cause his child irreparable harm. "All the evidence shows that children are best brought up in the context of a stable marriage where they can relate to a mother and a father, so that they can develop healthy relationships with people of both genders," the bishop declared. However, such assertions are contrary to official medical studies, which show that the children of same-sex parents fare as well as or better than their peers from heterosexual households.

In an interview with The Mirror, John dismissed the backlash, stating that having a child was the best thing that ever happened to him. "I'm going to be watched, examined, pulled apart. And that's OK because I believe in what I've done," he said.

Nick Cannon defended his decision to have a dozen kids

Nick Cannon's love life has become the stuff of legend, with the TV host joking that he would like to father baby number 13 with Taylor Swift. Cannon has twelve kids by six different women, leading to a major backlash. Social media users have condemned Cannon as being little more than a sperm donor, as opposed to a father. On "Cocktails with Queens" (via Fox News), actor Vivica A. Fox slammed Cannon and dismissed notions that his wealth entitled him to father so many children. "Fatherhood deserves responsibility, accountability, and children need that in their lives," she said.

But some suggest that folks shouldn't be so quick to shame the star. For instance, Akon maintains that the criticism levied at Cannon is unfair. "I agree with him 1000 per cent," the rapper declared on "The Zeze Millz Show." "That's how life is supposed to be. Why not? He's rich ... He's responsible. He takes care of every one of those children."

As for Cannon, he has defended his decision to have a dozen children, arguing that people are bound by restrictive and outmoded familial concepts. During an appearance on "The Breakfast Club," the hosts asked Cannon why he was so intent on impregnating multiple women. "That's a Eurocentric concept when you think about the idea of, like, you're supposed to have this one person for the rest of your life," he explained, "and really that's just to classify property ... I've never really subscribed to that mentality."

Kylie Jenner was shamed for having kids at a young age

At the tender age of 20, Kylie Jenner gave birth to her first child, Stormi, with then boyfriend Travis Scott. The reality TV star and entrepreneur tried her best to keep her pregnancy a secret. Considering the backlash that ensued, it's no surprise that Jenner didn't want the world to know she was set to become a young mom.

Social media star Piques directed some particularly barbed mom-shaming at Jenner, tweeting, "Let's all teach young girls to get pregnant at 20 to a guy you haven't even dated for a year @KylieJenner. What an amazing role model." And she was even shamed by her own family, with insiders telling People that certain members of the Karjenner clan felt that the multimillionaire was too young and immature to be having kids. "Kylie is very naïve," the source claimed. "Spending time with other people's kids is obviously completely different than being a mom 24/7. Kylie of course has no idea about all the hard work and sleepless nights."

Some contended that the backlash was reflective of the shame society inflicts upon young mothers, which ultimately prevents them from getting the support they need during pregnancy. In an interview with Paper, Jenner addressed the hate she received for having kids young. "It's genuinely what I wanted... to be a young mom," she explained. "I thought, 'This is what I want to do, and if people accept it or don't accept it then I'm okay with every outcome.'"

Hilary Swank was branded selfish for having kids at 48

After an illustrious career and an Oscar win, Hilary Swank decided to settle down at the age of 48 and become a mom for the first time. In 2022, an elated Swank announced that she was pregnant with twins during an appearance on "Good Morning America." "I'm going to be a mom — and not just of one, but of two," she enthused. "I can't believe it." But as with so many women in the limelight, Swank was met with cynicism and condemnation from certain corners of the internet.

When Swank posted an Instagram snap of her newborn twins, the mom-shaming was unleashed with a fury. "By the time your kids are in their 20s both their parents will be in a nursing home or dead," commented one irate user. It's highly unlikely that Swank will be either dead or in a nursing home in her late 60s, considering that the average life expectancy in Colorado, where she lives, is 82 for women. Such comments are, therefore, not only absurd, but highlight a prevalent double standard when it comes to older moms.

As critics point out, older dads are never shamed for having children. The likes of Alec Baldwin and Jeff Goldblum, for instance, welcomed kids in their 60s and were lauded rather than castigated. As others illustrate, the most important thing a parent can offer their child is not youth, but love. And judging by Swank's joyful motherhood posts, her youngsters have an abundance of it.

Halsey faced a backlash for having a child in their 20s

In 2021, Halsey welcomed their son, Ender Ridley, with partner Alev Aydin. Despite being almost 30 when they gave birth to their first child, the "Without Me" star was criticized for supposedly being too young to become a parent.

Appearing on Zane Lowe's Apple Music podcast, Halsey opened up about being shamed for having a kid in their 20s. "I'm 26, and I tried very hard for this pregnancy and it was like, I'm financially independent, I'm pretty far along in my career, it feels like the right time for me to do it," they explained, "And I got treated like a teen mom a lot of the time ... People were like, 'Oh my God, you're so young...' And it triggered all these feelings of kind of like shame." Halsey highlighted the hypocritical stigma faced by women and femme-presenting people, arguing that they likely would have been subjected to the same scrutiny if they'd decided to forgo becoming a parent for the sake of their career.

Moreover, such criticisms are particularly cruel considering Halsey's struggle with endometriosis, which led to the singer, who longed to have a baby, suffering a miscarriage. In 2019, the star told Rolling Stone that they feared they would never be able to have children after doctors advised that they should freeze their eggs. Subsequently, they became determined to have a child. "I don't need to put out a third album. I'm just going to have a baby," they stated.

Hilaria Baldwin was shamed for welcoming a baby via a surrogate

From affecting a Spanish accent to her seemingly inappropriate social media posts in the wake of the "Rust" shooting, Hilaria Baldwin is no stranger to controversy. Much of the contention surrounding the star lies in her family. With hubby Alec Baldwin, Hilaria has seven children. In 2021, five months after Hilaria gave birth to her son Eduardo, the couple welcomed their sixth child, Lucia, who was born via a surrogate.

The New York Post claimed that Hilaria owed it to the public to discuss the surrogacy, seeing as she has built a career around being a mommy influencer. Moreover, social media users shamed her for bringing so many children into the world.

On her "Witches Anonymous" podcast, she called out the haters who critiqued her for having a baby via surrogacy and for undergoing IVF treatment, claiming society has the tendency to "shame" women who use this treatment (via People). "But also, the surrogacy route, they basically say that's the easy way to have babies," continued. She went on to explain that she sees no difference between her child who was born via a surrogate and the children she gave birth to. "People assume that I'm less of a mom, that she's less of my daughter... We were looking through some articles that were written about my daughter and me... and they were really mean," she added.

Kate Hudson was shamed for having kids by multiple partners

As with Kate Winslet, snoops have been sticking their noses where they don't belong and prying into Kate Hudson's private life. Of supposed concern to the haters is Hudson's decision to have kids by different men. She has three children by three partners: sons with musicians Chris Robinson and Matt Bellamy, and a daughter with her current beau Danny Fujikawa.

When Hudson announced that she was pregnant with her third child in 2018, she was met with the inevitable sexist mom-shaming. "How many baby daddies does Kate Hudson have?? Kate!!.... Keep your legs together for crying out loud!!" wrote a judgmental Twitter user. "[Congrats] Kate Hudson on your third baby daddy," came a snarky response from another user. As critics highlight, Hudson's family life is no one's business but her own, and the "Glass Onion" star shouldn't be forced to stay with ex-partners for the sake of upholding notions of a traditional family.

Opening up about the backlash to The Times, Hudson made it clear that she has no interest in adhering to antiquated familial values. "It might not look traditional from the outside, but on the inside I feel like we're killing it," she explained. "The unit that I've created with three children with three different fathers is a seriously strong unit... I'm not interested in forcing some conventional idea of love or marriage." Indeed, there are myriad different ways to raise a family and, ultimately, all that matters is that Hudson's children are loved.

Cameron Diaz was scrutinized for having a baby in her late 40s

After tying the knot with Good Charlotte's Benji Madden in 2015, Cameron Diaz welcomed her first child, daughter Raddix, four years later via a surrogate. From the outset of her motherhood journey, Diaz was shamed, with many speculating as to how the 47-year-old could have conceived a child. Since Diaz did not initially reveal whether she had given birth or used a surrogate, tabloid The Sun ran a cruel headline entitled, "Why can't stars like Cameron Diaz admit having a baby in your 40s is usually down to a test tube?" A bold assertion considering that women giving birth in their 40s is at an all time high: in fact, in the UK, more women are giving birth in their 40s than in their 20s. 

In an interview with Naomi Campbell, Diaz discussed the positives of having a child later in life. "I really feel like this is my sweet spot and my happiest time in my life," she enthused.

Ironically, Diaz had previously been shamed for not having children. In 2014, The Telegraph asked the star why she had opted out of motherhood, leading to her offering a lengthy explanation to defend her life choices. "If I wanted kids, at any point in life, I would have them... It's not like I'm the spinster who didn't have a child," she said. Sadly, Diaz's story seems to be a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Naomi Campbell's pregnancy drew an undue backlash

Speaking of Naomi Campbell, the British supermodel is another star who had a baby later in life. And as with many of the women in this rundown, she was shamed for being an older mom.

In 2021, Campbell welcomed her first child at 50. The finger-wagging and shaming was almost immediate, with the Daily Mail (yes, them again) speculating as to whether the model utilized IVF or surrogacy, since Campbell confirmed that her daughter was not adopted. Reproductive scientist Joyce Harper claimed that Campbell was selling a harmful idea to women in their 50s. "Celebrity pregnancies at advanced ages give women false hope about what is actually possible. The reality is that it is very, very unlikely for a woman to naturally become pregnant at 50," she told The Guardian. Meanwhile, the New York Post branded her a "geriatric mom" (a term that many contend is antiquated and misogynistic).

As Grazia points out, Campbell doesn't owe an explanation to anyone regarding her decision to become a mom, with the scrutiny into her fertility, or supposed lack thereof, getting borderline creepy. All that matters is that Campbell and her daughter are happy, which is evident judging by the elation the model has expressed at becoming a mom. "I can count on one hand the number of people who knew that I was having her," she told Vogue. "But she is the biggest blessing I could ever imagine. It's the best thing I've ever done."

Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black faced hate for having children through a surrogate

Olympic diver Tom Daley and screenwriter husband Dustin Lance Black make quite the power couple. The dashing duo have two sons, born in 2018 and 2023. The birth of the couple's first child, who was welcomed via a surrogate, was mired in controversy.

Writing for the Daily Mail, Richard Littlejohn, who has a history of expressing anti-LGBTQ views (in one instance possibly leading to the suicide of a trans woman), claimed that children should have a mother and a father. Bizarrely branding Daley's decision to have a baby a "publicity stunt," Littlejohn wrote, "Here we have two men drawing attention to the fact that 'they' are having a baby. But where's the mom?" He urged people to "stop pretending this is the new normal," before making a homophonic jibe about Daley breastfeeding his child.

Speaking to The Guardian, Black said he was startled by Littlejohn's article. "We soon came to the conclusion that the way to address this unexpected reaction was to shed as much light as possible; meet anger and hate with curiosity," he reflected. Subsequently, the backlash spurred him to make a podcast, "Surrogacy: A Family Frontier" to help dispel myths surrounding surrogacy. In an interview with The Telegraph, Daley addressed the homophobic shaming he faced for having children. "Lots of people say, 'why don't you adopt?'" he explained. "You wouldn't say that to a straight couple. You wouldn't say: 'Why do you deserve to have a biological kid?'"

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