The Age Of The Auntie

The modern-day “auntie” has taken on a fresh vibe, but the role has always been invaluable to the familial ecosystem.

The last few years have witnessed a growing societal shift, where women—whether single or married—are proudly affirming their choice not to have children. 

Colloquially known as “rich aunties” among Black women, a wave of platforms, like Rich Auntie Supreme and Rich Auntie Energy have emerged to provide a safe and thriving space for this community.  

Unsurprisingly, the movement has also been subjected to negative scrutiny, judgment and criticism, mischaracterizing women who choose to bypass motherhood as selfish, self-absorbed, and anti-family children-haters. Take a 2022 tweet from a controversial political pundit, for example, that once infamously called women “angry, bitter, maladapted, shrieking sociopaths” for making the choice to not have children. Then there’s the viral episode of the podcast “One Thing About It” where guest BK Brasco of Love & Hip Hop Atlanta tells podcast host Amani Talks (a Black woman) that having kids was “what she was born here to do.” 

The child-free rich aunties, however, remain undeterred. They’re claiming their self-actualized power and proving that the proverbial carefree Black woman can also be a vital part of the familial support system. 

Sweet July spoke to several women who embody this ethos to learn more about the modern state of “aunt-ing.” 

The Art Of The Rich Auntie 

Here’s an important clarification: the “rich” in rich auntie doesn’t necessarily require, or only allude to, having lots of money. The “richness” refers to the lessons and experiences shared, and the memories created within their villages. As Rachel Cargle, one of the progenitors, shares on her “Rich Auntie Supreme” website, aunties are “socially conscious.” They allocate their time thoughtfully and intentionally as child-free adults and, as a result, are able to “show up in various ways to the community.” 

Skincare and hair expert Dominique Baker, self-dubbed as “Your Rich Auntie,” co-signs with a similar sentiment: “Rich aunties have a bit of an edge. We aren’t tied down, we have the budget to fly to Africa in two days for a last minute safari, and we have an outlook on life that’s different from moms, that’s valid too.”

While this movement has picked up steam in recent years, it’s an avant-garde perspective to life that’s nothing new—just ask Linda Bell, a lawyer and healthcare executive whose own aunt has inspired her lifestyle.   

My Aunt Helen was someone I looked up to, and still do,” says Bell.  “She was single, educated (had a PhD), drove a nice car, always had the best things and did what she wanted. There was an obvious strength about her that I found alluring. While my [other] aunts with kids taught me how to cook and do chores, Aunt Helen taught us how to drive, about finances, and how to choose a boyfriend who respects you.” 

The Auntie’s Effect On The Family Dynamic 

The role of the rich aunties in the family ecosystem often goes unrecognized, undervalued and unappreciated, emphasizes Baker. “Our interactions within larger family dynamics is interesting and offers a lot of value that shouldn’t be discounted,” she says. 

Bell defines this role as something akin to a mediator. “Child-free aunties can play the role of mentor and confidante for sensitive matters that the child prefers not to talk to a parent about,” she says. She’s also supported her nieces and nephew through both domestic and international travel, exposing them to  “cultural experiences they may not have otherwise experienced.”

Shayla, who for professional reasons prefers not to use her last name, sees her auntie role as being both financially and emotionally present for her nieces and nephews. “Fifteen years ago, we purchased an iPad for my newborn nephew so he would know us, since we’re transplants to Texas with no immediate family members within driving distance,” she says. “That was the best investment because, to this day, if something happens at home, though I’m over 1,000 miles away, I’m one of the first calls my niece and nephew will make.” She also shares that she’ll happily alleviate some of her sister’s stress over the summer by caring for her niece while her sister studies abroad.

Shaping A Future With More Options

One of the most pragmatic ways these aunties wield their unspoken power is in how they are shifting conventional societal paradigms for next generations.  

“I love being an example to younger women to show them that you can lead a stellar life without succumbing to society’s expectations,” says Baker. “I want to show my niece that the women in her family are winners—that they are strong, educated and can do anything they put their minds to. 

The rich auntie’s existence is a lesson in breaking with the status quo by exemplifying how to live life on your own terms, boldly go against tradition, and be unafraid of creating an unconventional life that serves you, and ultimately your community, well.

“It allows young girls to see a different optic for their life other than being a wife and mother,” says Bell. “It also allows the nephews to see there are different types of independent women beyond what their mothers do for them every day. I love how the rich auntie movement takes the negative stigma of not having children and changes the optic to one of single women loving and living their best life unapologetically.”

This feature is part of The Village Issue. Read more about the gamut of our most cherished relationships here.

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