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6 Influential Women Who Swapped Motherhood For A Different Kind Of Fulfillment

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Women who choose to not have children in their lifetimes are often seen as “narcissistic” or “selfish” by society. Whether you agree or not, a woman has the choice to decide for herself if she wants children or if she would rather dedicate her life to another cause, passion, or her career.

According to an article published by Glamour, the Cassandra Report: Ages and Stages found that one-third of millennials don't want to be mothers. Of the 75 million millennials, about 25 million don't have a desire to have children. What’s better? 69 percent believe there is no longer a social stigma associated with not wanting to have kids.

Here are six extraordinary women who were or are “childless” in their lifetimes, and found their fulfillment in other areas of life besides motherhood, without regrets.

1. They built, and are running, empires.

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Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel was a French fashion designer famous for her eponymous label. In 1920, she launched her first perfume, and her iconic tweed Chanel suits and little black dresses have become timeless staples still sought after today. She opened her first store, a millinery, in 1910 while she was in her late twenties. According to Biography.com, she never married, having once said “I never wanted to weigh more heavily on a man than a bird.”

2. They have goals they want to accomplish throughout their lives.

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Anjelica Huston is an American actress, director, and former fashion model who is best known for her role as Morticia Addams in The Addams Family and her academy award nominations for Enemies, a Love Story (1989) and The Grifters (1990). She has delved into directing, earning her first editorial credit for Bastard Out of Carolina (1996) and then continuing in the field with Agnes Browne (1999), and Riding the Bus with My Sister (2005). Aside from being in the film industry, she has also been involved in political activism, addressing the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to release Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma and giving a large yearly donation to the Transgender Law Center, and her work with PETA. She has also written two memoirs, A Story Lately Told and Watch Me. [WHY DOESN'T SHE HAVE CHILDREN?]

3. They want to explore more of the world and themselves.

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Elizabeth Gilbert is the world renowned author of Eat, Pray, Love, a novel about her own journey to Italy, India, and Bali after she felt unfulfilled by a life that was “supposed” to be the ideal--a husband, country home, and a successful career. Through her travels she learns about the meaning of life and gets to explore and understand more about herself as an individual. Her journey has inspired millions around the world to go out and do the same.

4. They simply don’t believe in traditional roles for women.

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Simone de Beauvoir was a French writer and philosopher who was famous for her influence on feminist existentialism and feminist theory. She wrote novels, essays, biographies, an autobiography, monographs on philosophy, politics, and social issues, and wrote several novels including The Second Sex and She Came to Stay. She loved the thrill of not following the norm for women in the period of time she was alive. When she reflected on her chances for marriage, she said “I am too intelligent, too demanding, and too resourceful for anyone to be able to take charge of me entirely,” she wrote rather sadly in her youthful journal. “No one knows me or loves me completely. I have only myself.

5. They dedicate their lives to causes they feel passionate about.

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Hala Basha-Gorani is a CNN anchorwoman known for her hard-hitting news reports on topics such as the Charlie Hebdo shooting in France, coverage of the Arab Spring, and gay life in the Middle East. Her love for writing is rooted in a documentary she watched called The Killing Fields, which covered the civil war in Cambodia. "[The film] touched me enough to make some very important decisions about my career," she says, "and now I find myself in a similar position."

6. Their lives just take them in different directions

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Condoleezza "Condi" Rice is the first black woman to serve as the United States' National Security Advisor and the first black woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State. When asked if she felt she had lived a fulfilling life by not being married or having kids, she said “I'm very religious and I at some very deep level believe that things are going to work out as they're supposed to. The key is to be open to that and to appreciate the life that you've been given."

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