By now pretty much everybody and their cousin knows who the Duggars are. The giant-sized family of conservatives have become one of reality television's most well-recognized names.
We first met patriarch Jim Bob and his loyal wife Michelle in the early 2000s when their family was occasionally featured in one-hour specials highlighting their unique perspective on life. The public became so intrigued by this ever-growing family that a reality television show was imminent.
TLC capitalized on the mainstream people's fascination with the family, and in 2008 their hit series 19 Kids and Counting hit the airwaves. It ran until 2015 when scandal rocked the clan and forced the family to step out of the public spotlight. From that point on, the eldest Duggar children, now married and starting families of their own, managed to get their own reality television show called Counting On.
In this family, there are enough weddings, births, and other happenings to create interesting plotlines for years to come. With so many years of Duggars in the spotlight, it's hard to imagine a time where they were not being cast into our living rooms.
But before reality television got a hold of them, their lives looked very different. Here are 20 things to know about the famous reality family before they got famous.
20 Jim Bob For Senate
Remember this image? It was taken way back when we first laid eyes on this nonconventional clan of conservatives. Before Jim Bob was Mr. Reality TV, he was Jim Bob, the government servant. From 1999 to 2002 Jim Bob was a part of the Arkansas House of Representatives. Then in 2002, he decided not to seek reelection and try his hand at another legislative branch.
He tossed his hat into the ring and sought out a Senate seat but didn't come out of the race successfully. This loss was the end of his short-lived stint in government. He swung a complete 180 from this point, turning instead to reality television.
19 Michelle Used To Be A Yeller
Michelle Duggar has as many children as public school teachers have in their classrooms, and she birthed every single one of them. Somehow, every time we see Michelle interacting with her children, she has a smile on her face and a quiet, controlled tone of voice. Like seriously, how? Michelle wasn't always so subdued though.
She revealed to RadarOnline that she struggled with her anger when her eldest children were young. She now credits her faith in her religion for helping her see through her rage and anxiousness. She also admitted that despite what the cameras catch, she isn't always cool, calm, and collected. That sure makes the rest of us feel a little bit better.
18 She Also Used To Be Sporty
Michelle and Jim Bob's conservative and modest children would never be caught crawling up to the top of the human pyramid or playing contact sports. The Duggar children steer very clear from public schools and recreational activities like football, cheerleading, and soccer.
But long before the Duggars were household names on a popular television network, Michelle Duggar was all about the sporty life. In fact, she was a lead cheerleader for her public high school! Imagine one of her girls rocking the little cheer uniform and cartwheeling and high kicking for a public school football team. You can't do it, can you?
17 Michelle And Jim Bob Did Not Practice What They Now Preach
Quite a few of Jim Bob and Michelle's children have married and become parents themselves. The vast majority of them put parenthood up at the very top of their priority list, wasting no time having children. Daughter Jinger and her husband chose to wait a few months before becoming parents, and that had people talking.
Michelle and Jim Bob have led their kids to go forth and multiply, but they didn't always follow their advice. According to Inquisitr, after the couple got hitched, they waited to have babies. Furthermore, they used contraception, which is something they are very much against these days. Young Michelle and Jim Bob had a different set of priorities than reality television Jim Bob and Michelle.
16 Michelle Grew Up In A Very Un-Duggar-Like Home
Michelle and her siblings were raised very differently than she and Jim Bob are choosing to raise their children. For starters, Michelle grew up in a family that didn't consider themselves religious. While religion is the cornerstone of the Duggars child-rearing practices, Michelle lived out her younger years in a less indoctrinated environment.
According to Bustle, her awakening didn't come until later on in her life, during her teenage years. She also attended public schools, participated in school-centered activities, and neighbors swear she mowed the lawn in a bathing suit. The Michelle Duggar that we have come to know would never be caught doing that.
15 And Her Views Were More Liberal
The Duggars are quick to preach their conservative views to anyone who will listen. Michelle and Jim Bob are unusually firm on their strong traditional-family-only stance. This perspective wasn't always the case, however. Michelle used to be a far more tolerant and accepting person, according to Ok Magazine.
People she used to associate with can not even believe that she has become so close-minded. This shift in thinking is especially jarring knowing that one of her sisters is living her personal life in a non-traditional manner. Michelle likes to express thoughts on charity starting at home, but in the case of accepting her sister, there is apparently no emotional charity to be given.
14 Questionable Fashion
The matching Little House on the Prairie dresses and the eighties-tastic teased up hair was very characteristic of pre-fame Duggars. The Duggar ladies were a spectacle in their early days. Michelle had the same permed hairstyle for a whopping 46 years before she finally gave in to a makeover in 2012. We barely recognized her with the overhaul.
The girls in the Duggar family have grown up and developed their own, more modern clothing and hairstyles while staying as modest as possible. We can't go as far as to say the floor-length jean skirts are "on-trend," but they are a step up from the little duckling outfits Michelle used to put them in.
13 Tiny House No More
These days the clan resides in a seven thousand square foot abode that the Duggar parents designed themselves. Every inch of their family home was designed with their large family in mind. Before fame came along, they all crammed into a tiny, three bedroom two bathroom ranch. That seems impossible!
Now that the older Duggar children have moved out of the family compound and into homes of their own, the younger Duggar kids might finally have some space to breathe. That said when all the kids are there with their kids and husbands, even the 7,000 square feet likely start feeling a bit tight.
12 The Lines To The Bathroom Were Longer Than Those In Restaurants
Back when all of those Duggars had to cram into their tiny ranch home, they all had to take turns using the two bathrooms that the house contained. In Touch Weekly shared that back in 2004, the Duggars would continuously be waiting in lines to use a bathroom in their own home. At the time, 13-year-old Jill told viewers that you could always find at least three or four siblings waiting outside the potty at any given time.
When it came to showers things got even more complicated. Half of the family had to shower in the morning, and half had to shower at night. The grimiest Duggar always got priority when it came to bathing.
11 They Once Had To Rent
While the Duggars were knee deep in building their dream home, they had to rent a property to house the gang. Their former home sold more quickly than they had expected and with nowhere to stay, they seemed out of options. This predicament meant that they had to look to temporary housing to bridge the gap between the tiny home that they were bursting out of and a giant mega dream house.
We can say a whole lot of things about this family, but one thing is for sure. Those kids do know how to roll with the punches. It could not have been easy packing up and transplanting for only a couple of weeks, but they managed to do it.
10 No Out Of Country Experiences
These days the Duggar family jet sets away to exotic getaways and do-gooding missions all over the Earth, but before they hit the big times on TLC, they barely left home. It's completely normal to see the large-sized family spending time in sunny Down Under or taking in the sights of The United Kingdom or Tokyo, but this was not always the case.
The Duggars of pre-fame stayed stateside, and they didn't all hop on a plane and shoot across the universe. Their first significant excursion was in 2006 when Jim Bob and Michelle took their then sixteen kiddos on a cross country road trip to California. They have come a long way in regards to world travel.
9 The Children Used To Be Referred To As Its
Since television has taken over, Jim Bob, Michelle, and the gang are a little bit more politically correct in their speech. Back when we first met Michelle, and there were only fourteen kids and counting, she let viewers know how she managed such a massive heard. In Touch Weekly reminded Duggar fans that Michelle used to pass off the little ones to the older kids and because she called it The Buddy System, no one said a thing.
She also stated that the baby was her buddy until it weaned from her, but she didn't say "baby," she said "it." These days we don't hear Michelle calling her little "its" when it is time to come in for dinner.
8 A Man Of Many Hats
Jim Bob Duggar always did a swell job of putting food on the table and supporting his family before reality television was ever a thing. Not only did he serve in the House of Representatives, but he also found ways to make enough money to support his ever growing family.
According to Romper, Jim Bob took a financial seminar, earned his real estate license, and got into developing commercial properties before becoming a television star. His business even employs a couple of his sons now. JB is now worth an estimated 3.6 million dollars! Not too shabby there, Jim Bob.
7 Differing Payscale
Jim Bob Duggar s a self-made man worth millions of dollars. They were not exactly scraping the bottom of the barrel before reality television came calling though, but they certainly weren't balling like they are now. As a House Representative, JB made a decent six-figure income, but according to Cheat Sheet, reality television had allowed him to pull in nearly $40,000 per episode back when they were filming.
That is strictly for their show appearances. They were also able to rake in substantial cash payouts for speaking engagements and book deals once their fame caught on. Of course, Jim Bob and Michelle will need every cent of their earnings to get all of those kids of theirs to adulthood.
6 Not-So-Healthy Diets
The Duggar Family has cleaned up their eating in recent years. They even have a family garden so that they can forever be pulling fresh veggies from their yard and bringing them to the table. Before the lifestyle overhaul though, the Duggars were the reigning champions of baking tater tot casseroles and other unhealthy meals. The tater tot casserole was supposedly dad Jim Bob's absolute favorite dish.
We certainly understand why meals like this appealed to the family. They are inexpensive and quickly prepared, both of which are real points for large families. Gone are the days of Michelle buying frozen burritos in bulk though. This reality TV gang has made seemingly permanent healthy lifestyle changes.
5 They Dressed Even MORE Conservatively Than They Do Now
These days the Duggar ladies are starting to venture out into the wild world of pants and high heel shoes, but before they were famous, they would never have gotten caught wearing any of those modern-day fashions. Pre-television Duggars were all about long, drab skirts and modest outfits that covered all skin and would never be found wearing shorts or pants... ever.
Daughter Jinger Duggar broke the mold, experimenting with less conservative fashion choices like shorts and high heeled shoes, and now her sister Jill is following suit. Cafemom even posted pics of the mama sporting jean shorts while hiking in the wilderness.
4 Slippery Slope Of Social Media
Before becoming reality television stars, well-known authors, and entrepreneurs, the Duggars were very much anti-technology and anti-internet. If it didn't serve the Lord or their homeschooling agenda, then it was not necessary in their eyes. It seems that the clan has gotten a bit lax in the area of social media usage, however.
Romper reported that six of the Duggars now have social media accounts and even Jim Bob and Michelle have gotten on the social media bandwagon, running a family page to keep fans in the loop. Also, one of the unmarried sons has a social media page! Social media before marriage? Maybe they have gone off the deep end?
3 They Have Let Up On The Dating Rules
In those first few of years, Jim Bob and Michelle were pretty adamant that their kids would never court without their presence. When Jill fell hard for Derick Dillard, her parents made sure to listen in on every single one of their conversations. When Jill's younger sister Jess started courting her future hubby Ben, Mom and Pa Duggar let the two talk on the phone in private for one hour a day.
According to The Today Show, they loosened up even more when they allowed their son Josiah to Facetime his girlfriend, Lauren. Who knows how the constant monitoring will look once little Josie starts dating!
2 There Was A Lot Less Flaunting
During their pre-television fame phase, the Duggars were snapped in matching, drab outfits, posing as a family and walking in straight lines like little ducklings. These days they take pictures of themselves taking fancy vacations or partaking in fun and exciting activities and then posting them to their various social media channels. Whatever happened to living modestly?
Those views have changed at least by a bit. According to Blasting News, Jim Bob and Michelle even took a couples trip with their close friends Gil and Kelly Jo Bates. The Duggars of the early 2000s would have never been caught bragging about their bougie splurges on the internet.
1 The Next Generation Is Considering Building Their Families In A Different Way
Michelle and Jim Bob acquired all of their children the good old fashioned way. Every one of those little Duggar babies came out of Michelle's body. Now the next generation of Duggars is very busy building their own families. Every other day there is another report about one of Jim Bob and Michelle's kids adding another baby to their brood.
Jessa Duggar is currently expecting her third baby, and according to Cheat Sheet, that probably won't be her last. Moreso, Jessa revealed to E News that if she wanted to have as many kids as her mother, she would adopt.
Sources: OK Magazine, Romper, The Stir, Today, Blasting News, E Online, In Touch Weekly