Michelle Duggar is a mother-of-19 with big hair and a bright smile. She’s a cheerful celebrity mom whose controversial parenting styles and romantic advice have caused some to applaud her and others to criticize her. Duggar was born on September 13, 1966, and wed her husband, Jim Bob, on July 21, 1984. The two have an impressive 19 children together: 10 boys and 9 girls. They tragically lost their 20th child to a miscarriage and also experienced a failed pregnancy soon after the birth of their first child, Josh.
The couple and their impressive brood are household names thanks to the TLC television show about their family, 19 Kids and Counting. Since becoming one of America’s favorite humongous families, the Duggars have faced their share of backlash over various issues. Michelle and Jim Bob have taken heat for their strict discipline techniques, their conservative views and their alleged cover-up of their son’s behavior towards his 4 of his sisters.
Michelle’s children, Josh, Jana, John David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy, Jedidiah, Jeremiah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn, and Josie are now celebrities in their own rights, but will always have their parents to thank for launching them into the spotlight, for better or for worse.
Read on to see 15 pics of Michelle Duggar, and learn more about her eyebrow-raising, incredibly interesting views on life as a wife and mother.
15 Popular Teen
Before getting married and settling down to start a family with Jim Bob, Michelle was a cheerleader. In the pic above, she is smiling brightly and is not at all ashamed to be showing a little skin. A source who knew Michelle in high school has revealed, “She was a pretty, popular cheerleader. The cheerleaders and football players hung out and partied together, and she was part of that group”. In fact, Michelle's involvement in cheerleading is what allegedly first attracted Jim Bob to her. Even more shocking? Michelle has admitted that she used to mow her family's front lawn in a bikini. While this isn’t really a scandalous thing to do, it is something that is against the Duggar family rules. After all, they aren’t even allowed to wear swimming suits when they swim!
14 Young Love
Jim Bob and Michelle began dating when she was only 16. Jim Bob once admitted to Radar Online, “When Michelle and I were dating, we took things further than we should have.” Apparently, Michelle blames herself for any indecency that went on between her and her future spouse before their wedding day. In fact, she harbors guilt for tempting men all over town. Speaking about the way she behaved back before she was married, the modest mother told PopSugar, “[When] I mowed the lawn in a bikini, [I] had no idea what I was doing to my neighbor’s husband across the street. No wonder the woman hated our family, you know? And, to think I had no clue as far as the responsibility I had in that the way I dressed caused men to have struggles.”
13 Wedded Bliss
Jim Bob and Michelle tied the knot when they were still extremely young: he was 19 and she was 17! They are seen above looking blissfully in love right after they were pronounced man and wife. We can only imagine how incredible the moment was when Jim Bob kissed the bride...guilt free! Michelle appears to be brimming with excitement as she displays their marriage certificate, winks at the camera and embraces her new hubby. Her gorgeous white lace wedding gown is long-sleeved and tasteful. Did she purposefully choose a modest dress for her walk down the aisle, or did she just like the look? Once Michelle became Mrs. Duggar, she traded in her short skirts and bikinis for full-length modest dresses, a dress code that she would later require of her nine darling daughters.
12 Newlywed Duggars
Jim Bob and Michelle are seen above looking fresh-faced, madly in love and ready to take on the world together. Michelle looks stunning in a red, long-sleeved dress. Her hair is noticeably less poofy than the large hairdo she has become famous for in recent years, and her soft, flowing curls are framing her face effortlessly. Her handsome new hubby is rocking a spiffy pinstriped suit and a matching tie. After tying the knot, they welcomed their first child, Josh. As previously mentioned, Michelle suffered a miscarriage soon after he was born. Up until that point, the couple had used birth control to prevent unplanned pregnancies. The Duggars blamed the contraceptive for causing the loss of the pregnancy, and Michelle hasn’t used birth control since. The result? 19 Kids...and counting?
11 Baby Fever
According to the Duggar Family Blog, Michelle gave birth to her first five little ones in a hospital. She then chose to have her 6th child, Jinger, at home and opted for a home birth once again when she delivered her 7th baby, Joseph. Despite having 19 children, Michelle has only given birth 17 times due to the fact that two of her pregnancies resulted in sets of twins: Jana Marie and John David in 1990, and Jeremiah Robert and Jedidiah Robert in 2008. Many have criticized the way the experienced mother has chosen to care for her many babies. Michelle took heat after it was reported that she allegedly used the practice known as “blanket training” to teach her young children to behave. The discipline technique, which involves placing children as young as 6 months of age on a blanket and striking them if and when they refuse to stay put, was originally instituted by authors Michael and Deborah Pearl.
10 A Strict Upbringing
The Pearls penned the controversial book, To Train Up a Child. According to the New York Times, the book in question was discovered in at least three homes where children had died due to abuse or neglect. After the blanket training reports came out, Jim Bob and Michelle distanced themselves from the Pearls but had their fans up in arms again after recently promoting an event at which the Pearls were appearing on their Facebook page. One commenter on the post wrote, “This makes me so sad. The Pearls literally promote hitting babies, actual babies. They are child abusers. Why you would promote their evil and cruel practices is mind-boggling.” Another added, “Why are you promoting child abuse? I hope every single one of you participating in the Pearls’ abusive ways is arrested and spend significant time in prison. Those poor Duggar children.”
9 Learning As She Goes
Michelle's 19th child, Josie, was born via emergency C-section at 25 weeks. Speaking about the challenges of caring for a preemie baby, Michelle shared in an interview with PopSugar.com, "Initially, her (Josie's) feeds were so different than those of a full-term baby. At first, it was just a few drops and then it was a continuous feed because they had her on a feeding tube. We had to start feeding from a bottle so I would pump my breast milk and put it in the bottle and she had to learn how to suck, swallow, and breathe and that was a whole new experience because I had to learn how to hold the bottle and help her as she started to choke and until she was able to learn that process. Of course, she's learned it really well!" Speaking about how raising Josie differed from how she and Jim Bob had parented in the past, she shared, "We're probably doing the same things we did with all of our other children — playing with her, talking to her, and giving her a lot of stimulation when she is awake and having her playtime, but I'm more focused about it now than ever."
8 Modest Is Hottest
Michelle has chosen to dress modestly at all times. She wears long skirts and never shows her shoulders or much of any of her chest area. She has made it abundantly clear to her nine daughters that she expects them to follow suit. She explained why in a 2013 blog post for TLC. Duggar wrote, "By keeping those private areas covered, there's not any 'defrauding' going on. My kids are taught the definition of defrauding as stirring up desires that cannot be righteously fulfilled. We don't believe in defrauding others by the way we dress. And different people may be defrauded by different things. We can't control their thoughts, but we're responsible before God for our part. And so years ago, I just felt between me and my Lord that I really needed to dress modestly."
7 Raising Little Ladies
Michelle has also explained that she expects her young daughters to behave like "little ladies." She wrote in a blog post, "When the girls are little, they're jumping and playing and not even thinking about modesty. It's good because that's the way children should be. As a parent I would have to remind them, let's not stand upside down on your head in that chair because you want to practice being ladylike. And they look at me with this puzzled look like, 'What does that mean?' I'll explain, 'Well, it means that you sit up, put your knees together and pull your skirt down over your knees.'" In addition to behaving in an appropriate manner, Michelle revealed to Cosmopolitan in 2014 that her daughters also had the responsibility of warning their brothers if immodest women were afoot. How? By using the family code word, "Nike." Duggar shared with the mag, "That's a signal to the boys, and even to Dad, that they should nonchalantly drop their eyes and look down at their shoes as we walk past her... It's meant to help keep the guys' eyes from seeing things they shouldn't be seeing. By using the single-word signal, the warning can be given quietly and discreetly."
6 A Quiver Full Of Arrows
Adding to the controversy surrounding the Duggars is the fact that the family belongs to the Quiverfull movement. This group believes that a woman’s primary purpose for being on the Earth is to bear children. According to Cavan Concannon, assistant professor of religion at the University of Southern California, “In the Quiverfull movement, your kids are blessings from God and they are also weapons in the culture war. Some people in the movement would say that part of having a lot of kids is an attempt to birth more conservative Christians in a world that doesn’t have enough of them.” The group also teaches that it is a woman’s duty to bring as many children into the world as physically possible. The Quiverfull movement has been deemed a “cult” by some of its former members. Adding to the controversy surrounding the movement, one of its founders and leaders, Bill Gothard, was recently accused of sexual assault and harassment by dozens of his former employees, both male and female.
5 Going Courting
Jim Bob and Michelle have taught their children to be extremely careful not to get too close physically to those they date before marriage. On 19 Kids and Counting, Jim Bob explained to cameras why he and his wife were so strict when it came to dating. He dished, "As far as our kids dating, we believe a lot of times, if you're alone with the person, it can create desires that can kind of get stirred up, and you don't have any accountability, and [that] can kind of lead to some hanky panky...Courtship is really about getting to know each other for the purpose of possibly getting engaged and getting married." While Jill Duggar was dating her now-husband Derick Dillard, she clarified the difference between dating and courting to cameras. She explained, "The main difference between courting and dating is setting boundaries for yourself so that you don't cross those."
4 Rules For Love And Marriage
While the couple's daughter, Jessa Seewald, was dating her hubby Ben, the two refrained from holding hands and kissing and were accompanied by a chaperone at all times. If Jessa wanted to show affection to her husband-to-be, she could do so with a passionate "side-hug." Ben seemed to fine with it, and explained on the show,"Obviously we're saving our first kiss for marriage. It's pretty basic." The rules don't stop there. Jim Bob and Michelle also require their children to include them in any text messages they share with their suitors. Speaking about this process, Jim Bob told Today.com, "It's neat to see their conversations." He also revealed to the website that he gets letters and calls every week from boys hoping to court one of his beautiful daughters. Michelle added, "The girls have always said they would send any guy who was interested in them to Dad. That's a good thing — that is such good protection for them."
3 Keeping The Spark Alive
Michelle has shared that it's her firm belief that a wife should be willing to be intimate with her husband whenever he wants to. Duggar shared the marital advice she'd received from a friend on her blog. She wrote: "Anyone can iron Jim Bob’s shirt, anybody can make lunch for him. He can get his lunch somewhere else. But you are the only one who can meet that special need that he has in his life for intimacy. You’re it. You’re the only one. So don’t forget that, that he needs you. So when you are exhausted at the end of the day, maybe from dealing with little ones, and you fall into bed so exhausted at night, don’t forget about him because you and he are the only ones who can have that time together. No one else in the world can meet that need." The reality star told Today.com that being available to her husband whenever he's in the mood has been a "lifesaver" for their marriage.
2 "He's Meeting My Needs"
Michelle shared with TODAY Moms that it's a given that there are certain times when Jim Bob isn't entitled to endless physical intimacy. She revealed that she's off the hook when Aunt Flow is in town and gets 80 days off when she has a baby girl, and 40 days off when she has a baby boy. This controversial and seemingly one-sided approach to marriage seems antiquated and shocking to many, but Michelle has been sure to gush about how wonderful Jim Bob is. Speaking about her man, she wrote on her blog, "He'll lay down his life in any way. He will sit there and listen to everything I need to tell him because he knows that I’m there for him, too. I’m meeting his needs, he’s meeting my needs. We’re willing to be there for each other. And each one of us has different needs in a marriage relationship and that’s what’s so precious."
1 The Future Is Bright
Many applaud the Duggar family's way of life. Others feel their choices are old-fashioned and unhealthy. Michelle may be a polarizing public figure, but no one can ignore the fact that her beautiful family appears to be flourishing. Joy and her husband, Austin Forsyth, recently welcomed their first child, married couples Joe and Kendra Duggar and Jinger and Jeremy Vuolo both recently announced they've got babies on the way and Josiah just got engaged to his long-time friend, Lauren Swanson. Jim Bob and Michelle already have ten grandchildren with two more on the way, and have publicly stated that they are "counting on" this number someday growing to 100 or more. It's likely that the Duggar family will face ups and downs as they continue to grow, but Michelle has proven to the world that no matter what she faces, she faces it with a smile.