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Helen Mirren Has No Kids. So What?

File:Mirren0407 cropped.jpgIf Helen Mirren was a man, we’d know all about her Ducati collection. Or her devotion to transcendental meditation. Or her love of Japanese geishas. Instead, here’s what we know about Helen Mirren, based on the 243 pieces that have recently been published about her in various magazines and web properties:

1. She has an awesome body, despite being an old hag.

2. She has no children. We also know quite a bit about why she has no children. This is because every interviewer seems compelled to get to the bottom of this mysterious lack.

Fabulous work, impressive career, amazing knockers, Ms. Mirren. But what’s up with shirking your duty as a vessel for the next generation?

Do not be fooled by the impressive restoration of the exceptional post-reproductive woman: Item 1 and Item 2 are intrinsically related. Helen Mirren’s body looks like that because she didn’t ask her midsection to encompass a watermelon and two pomelos, retaining the slightly shrunken bags after the fruit has been eaten. That, and some excellent genes, and probably a lot of exercise and healthy eating (though apparently, also a fair amount of cocaine).

This is not to say that all mothers look worse after having children, or that age itself can’t have a similarly ruinous effect. But when I think about the women I know who don’t have kids, I see a lot of women whose bodies look “young for their age”, which is probably because a body that hasn’t gone through a pregnancy looks more “youthful” in some ways than one that has. That, and women who have children are too busy dealing with their children to take care of themselves.

Why does everybody insist on pestering Helen Mirren about her choice to stay child-free? Was it always this way, or is this a by-product of the last decade’s celebrity baby obsession? Mirren seems perfectly willing to answer the endless questions (or maybe she’s just polite). Basically, she didn’t have kids because she never wanted them, which is about the best reason I can think of.

By the time a woman is Helen Mirren’s age, we expect them to be, or at least look like, grandmothers. Mirren is fascinating because she defies our expectations.  She’s powerful. She’s hot. She’s selfish.  Focusing on the things she doesn’t have may be a way to try to find her vulnerability. Or understand how this alien creature who refuses to comply with the rules of nature (culture) works. Is she just like us underneath that improbably nubile skin?  Does the lack of an “urge to procreate” make her somehow defective? And could we ever imagine a male celebrity being asked these same questions?

 

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