Would You Wear a Ribbon for Childlessness?

CNBC Ribbon TransparencyDear readers:

How do you feel about wearing a ribbon showing the world that you are childless not by choice? Brandi Lytle of the NotSoMommy website and blog has asked if I would be willing to display this olive green ribbon in a show of sisterhood with hers and other sites for people who are involuntarily childless. Many of these sites focus on infertility. Here at Childless by Marriage, some of us are perfectly fertile but have other issues, such as uncooperative partners. So I said I’d ask you before I agreed to add the ribbon to my site. So far the ribbon is just a “virtual” one. There’s nothing to pin on our shirts, but Brandi is hoping to work that out.

Why olive green, you ask. Well, Brandi says, it’s not being used for another cause, it stays well away from the baby-oriented pink or blue, and she has found in her research that olive green is the color of peace and wisdom. “It does not stress the eyes, it relaxes the nervous system, calms the spirit, and enhances one’s mood and behavior, and studies show it can decrease fatigue, depression, and anxiety.”

Brandi continues: “Now, it’s time to start the campaign so that the Childless Not by Choice Awareness Ribbon will be recognized by our tribe, as well as the public. Fabulous ones, I pray our CNBC community connect with this new olive green awareness ribbon, share it on social media, and wear it proudly. Because we have endured much heartache and yet, are finding a way to create a new, beautiful and courageous existence. We should be proud of that! We should show the world what it really means to be childless not by choice…”

Read her whole post here.

Whether or not we go with the ribbon, I encourage you to explore Brandi’s NotSoMommy website. She has a great list of resources and a steady supply of engaging stories on her blog. Brandi’s on Facebook, too.

I’m not a real fan of ribbons and outward displays. If one were to wear an olive green ribbon, people would inevitably ask what it’s for, and then would come the questions we all hate. But perhaps in certain circles, it could be a wonderful sign of solidarity.

So, dear friends, what do you think?


While I was friending Brandi on Facebook, I saw that my stepdaughter’s son just got married. I watched the wedding video on Facebook. My husband’s ex and other people I don’t know were there. It was a small courthouse wedding. As far as I could see, the groom’s sister and uncles were also missing, but it still gives me a pang. I was part of the family for what feels like a minute (25 years), and now I’m not. Big sigh.

On to happier things!

My friend Theresa Wisner just published her book about her life working on fishing and research boats. Titled Daughter of Neptune, it’s wonderful. Check it out and enjoy this story of a childless woman who has made a fabulous life for herself.

11 thoughts on “Would You Wear a Ribbon for Childlessness?

  1. Hi Sue, I’ve put a lot of thought into the ribbon thing and also the awareness photo frame Stephanie Phillips created, and I can’t bring myself to use them. I consider this a deficit on my part. I can’t handle calling attention to my failure to have children. It’s far too sensitive a subject. It’s not like a disease or mental illness or addiction where counselors are trained to help cope with this lifetime condition that never goes away. So I muddle through life hoping that the subject never gets brought up. It’s not a happy subject and I’m not strong enough to broadcast my condition to the world. I so admire the women who can.


      • I’ve been thinking about your platform and the fact that infertility is not necessarily the default reason for being childless. In your shoes, I’d consider displaying the ribbon twice a year. A week at Mother’s Day and a week during Childless Awareness in October.

        Also, 25 years is a long time to be a part of any family. I’m sorry they neglected to invite you, Sue. Their loss, for sure. As a childless stepmom I can see myself in your shoes one day. Actually to some extent my husband and I have not been invited to a few family parties, so perhaps it’s already begun. For his sake, hopefully it’s not because of anything that I said or did. I’ve walked on eggshells for years to try to prevent that.


  2. It is a tough one. Just reading your blog makes me feel less alone and I hope that by adding to the comments I’m demonstrating my solidarity. I agree that by wearing the ribbon, you are inviting the question of why and to be honest, I’m not ready to deal with that! Also, and I know this is awful, I feel a little shame that I am fertile but my choice of partner has left me childless.

    I’m sorry about your stepdaughter’s son’s decision to not extend an invitation to you. People often don’t think about the impact things like that can have on family members and that saddens me on your behalf.


  3. I wonder about the green ribbon but without the words? As a way to recognise others in the same boat. I’d definitely talk to someone wearing it at a party, cos then I would know they weren’t going to start talking about their kids.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Jenny! You bring up a very good point about the ribbon–displaying with and without the words, “Childless Not By Choice.” Because the ribbon is fairly new (just about a year old), I’ve been displaying it with words so that others begin to recognize what it stands for. But the great thing about awareness ribbons is that you can make your own… Just a simple olive green ribbon, no words needed. I agree that it would be nice to see the ribbon being worn and know that you could have a pleasant conversation without worrying about “do you have kids” coming up. Sending you lots of hugs!


  4. Thank you for posing the question, Sue. I enjoy hearing different perspectives. Though I knew some would not be comfortable wearing a ribbon, others requested that our childless tribe have its own. So, I created the olive green CNBC ribbon and appreciate the fact that it is being shared within our amazing community. So many hugs…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s