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Gabrielle Union on Starting a Family: 'The Penance for Being a Career Woman Is Barrenness'

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Three of the most powerful women on TV appear to have it all: They’re brainy, beautiful, have cool jobs, love sports, date interesting guys and have jetsetting lives. But in the October issue of Redbook, Gabrielle Union, Erin Andrews and Maria Menounos all open up about their particular challenges of their lives — in particular, finding time to have kids.

Gabrielle Union Good Housekeeping
Courtesy Good Housekeeping


Union — who, with basketball star husband Dwyane Wade is one-half of PeopleStyle’s best-dressed couple — says that while she and her husband are a great team, she does occasionally notice their nearly 10-year age difference.

“His teammates, were conceived when I was, like, a senior in high school. I was in high school at the same time as their parents!” she says. “Sometimes he’ll be like, ‘Oh, my God, he’s so old!’ about someone who’s 35. But, Dwyane’s an old 33, and I’m a young 42, so it balances out.”

There’s also the issue of starting a family together. “So far, it has not happened for us. A lot of my friends deal with this,” she explains. “There’s a certain amount of shame that is placed on women who have perhaps chosen a career over starting a family younger. The penance for being a career woman is barrenness. You feel like you’re wearing a scarlet letter.”

And on top of that, IVF and a potential baby present their own set of challenges. “The reality is that women are discriminated against in the workplace for being mothers. As much as there are strides being made — you get pregnant, your career takes a hit,” she says. “You can’t have a bad day. Don’t you dare cry at work. Don’t raise your voice. Especially if you’re a black woman in corporate America — now you’re ‘the angry black woman.'”

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Erin Andrews Good Housekeeping
Courtesy Good Housekeeping

Sports journalist and Dancing with the Stars host Erin Andrews, 37, has said she’s faced workplace discrimination for being a woman in her field — and if that weren’t enough, she endured backlash for taking her stalker to court. “What made that experience even more horrible was that a lot of people just looked at it as a joke, like I pursued litigation to become famous. It’s proved to me how strong I am. I couldn’t pretend like it wasn’t a big deal. It was.”

But the star, who is dating hockey player Jaret Stoll, doesn’t let people’s preconceptions of her keep her back. “I happen to be one of those women who thinks it is possible to have it all. All of my friends from college and high school have three kids now. I’m not even engaged! I hope to have that, but look at what I’ve done: I’ve hopefully had a hand in opening the door for other women. I believe family is the next step.”

Maria Menounos Good Housekeeping
Courtesy Good Housekeeping

And finally, Menounos, 37, who also experienced negative reactions when she took over as the host of E! News from Giuliana Rancic.

“When I was being sought after by E!, I made it very clear to them that I didn’t want to be coming over to take somebody’s job, and I was assured that wasn’t the case,” she tells Redbook.

And she, too, struggles with the idea of “having it all” — especially when “it all” includes kids later in one’s late 30s, in the middle of a busy career. “Women have been sold a bill of goods. My biggest struggle is the idea of having kids — sometimes I feel like I’m drowning with everything that’s going on in my life and there aren’t even kids in my equation yet,” she says. “On my reality show last year, I was talking about freezing my eggs. I started the process, but I wasn’t successful, and it’s still not happening. So let’s call it what it is — not a good situation.”

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Read more here or pick up the new issue on stands Sept. 15 and tell us, Are you impressed by their candor?

— Alex Apatoff