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Not All Glitz and Glamor

Three-quarters of a million teens will become pregnant this year. This is the reality of teenage pregnancy or …the baby issue. The reason of increase in teen pregnancies in the last few years is debated among many, but whatever the root of this issue, as a society we can’t deny that it has become a growing problem and that something must be done Unplanned pregnancy has become a pop-culture staple with the cultural norms shifting. In fact, teen pregnancy increased 3% in 2006 which was the first rise in fifteen years and there is evidence that the media has played a significant role in this increase. With celebrity influences such as Jaime Lynn Spears and Bristol Palin and movies like Juno and The Secret Life of the American Teenager, which inaccurately portray the reality of teen pregnancy, the media has been essentially advocating adolescent pregnancies. Stars such as these along with Jessica Alba and Fantasia Barrino, from American Idol, who had a child at 17, are a part of a trend that’s sweeping teen culture along with it. With spreading media coverage on every teen mother sharing their story as a positive, teenagers get this idea of pregnancy as a blessing instead of a seeing the harsh truth that being a mom entails. Teenagers look up to these stars as role models for how to live their life, and the stars have the obligation to set a good example. By media simply accepting and furthermore glamorizing these pregnancies teens will continue to get an erroneous representation of teen pregnancy.

By showing pregnancies from Jaime Lynn Spears and Bristol Palin, the media plays a powerful role in persuading our youth into believing that pregnancy at a young age is acceptable and even supported. Although magazines and newspapers are trying to portray these young girls as good role models and responsible young mothers, they are essentially giving teenagers the idea that although their pregnancy wasn’t planned, it seems easy enough to take care of a new child. Jaime Lynn Spears was 17 when she became pregnant with her baby; US weekly covered the story and quoted her saying “being a mother is the best feeling.” This statement isn’t a good example to teenagers who need to know that being a mother IS a great feeling but not until you are actually old enough and responsible enough to take care of and devote yourself to another human being. The magazine portrayed Jaime Lynn as being “noble” for giving up her acting career to take care of her baby, but how is it noble to bring a child into the world that you aren’t ready to take care of? Another example is Bristol Palin and her new baby. Her supportive and influential mother, Sarah Palin, has also played part in the fantasy idea that a teen can raise a child. Hollywood tries to make out these teen mothers as noble but their view of reality about teen pregnancy is far from the truth. Often non-famous teen mothers aren’t privileged enough to have the luxuries of Hollywood stars and they must get jobs in order to support the growing cost of raising a child. They must sacrifice their entire social life and even precious time with their new baby in order to ensure that their child can have the best life possible, but this rarely happens for a teen parent. Our media needs to be focusing on the reality of pregnancy in order to show teens that having a baby isn’t at all what you see in the magazine photoshoots and TV shows. Teen pregnancy often is portrayed as a tough girl badge of honor. For example, although the movie Juno showcases a teen that ends up nobly giving up the baby for adoption; it still is a much lighter side of the reality. It’s about a fun, quirky girl who gets pregnant but her parents are supportive and the adoption runs smoothly and she even ends up with her guy. How lucky, yet how far from actuality. Adoptions often turn into foster care, which puts the child in a compromising situation. The scary thing is that teen pregnancy has become normalized; no longer a subject that is frowned upon, but this new-found acceptance also plays a role in the increase of teen mothers. The truth is that media needs to focus on the safety of our youth before the sales of their magazines or their ratings. Although the media will never take full responsibility for the growth in teenage pregnancy, their glamorized idea of having a baby at such a young age has greatly influenced our youth. We, as a society, need to take this responsibility as well as effective steps towards the de-glamorization of teenage pregnancies.

Furthermore, glamorized teen pregnancy seems to be more of a trend than a lifestyle. Who wouldn’t want a cute little baby to take care of and buy new frilly dresses and bows for? It brings teens back to their childhood when having life-like dolls was the biggest fad, except this time there isn’t an OFF button to stop it from crying. Being a mother is a full time job, just as a baby isn’t something that you hold onto only until it goes out of style, likes last year’s Gucci bag. It’s a permanent tattoo and no matter how far you go to erase it, it will always be a part of you. Often teenagers get an idea in their mind, that having is cute and fun but they don’t see the reality which means giving up friends, money and free time. It means being pushed into adulthood when you aren’t ready to grow up yet. So many teenagers go into their pregnancies with this fantasy that raising a child will be fun and amazing to have someone to love unconditionally. And although teenagers are told that being a mother is hard, they can’t even imagine the reality of hardships teen mothers face. The acceptance of teen pregnancy is spreading around the country and having a baby on your hip is the new fad. This ongoing fad of babies fails to show teenagers the unimagined complications and adversities of raising a child, when teens are still children themselves. But just like last season’s Prada peep-toes, this trend will eventually go out of style, except unlike the shoes, a baby isn’t something you can exchange for the newest thing.

The media is often eager to get a story about a teen mom and how she is handling the situation yet they aren’t addressing the rising concern of teen pregnancy and why is a growing problem in our society. It is often a subject that is pushed aside because it isn’t socially acceptable to speak of contraceptives. Our youth needs to be educated more about protection and although people can try to tell teenagers that it is best to wait, the truth of it is, most won’t. Although some may argue that talking to teenagers about contraceptives is giving them permission to have sex, it really isn’t; it is showing teens that while they may have sex they will know how to be safe. If the media is glamorizing pregnancy than why not glamorize contraceptives for a positive outcome? Preaching contraceptives is a touchy subjects, especially in the media, but it is something that needs to be talked about in order to prevent more teenage pregnancies.

The media often contorts the idea of pregnancy as a blessing, while they rarely mention the lasting effects of teen pregnancies on both the child and the mother. Teen mothers often must sacrifice everything, including their education, in order to care for their child. In fact, less than 2% of teen moms finish college by the age of 30. Of course in the media, teenage mothers are often shown sporting new attire for their baby and a great life ahead, but this isn’t the case for most teen mothers. The unprivileged mothers must face a long difficult road of trying to maintain a social life while also paying the bills. Teenage pregnancy also affects the children of these pregnancies. For example, children from teen mothers are twice as likely to have a child as a teen than a child that isn’t from a teenage mother. Having a baby changes everything, so many things will have to be given up, so many lives affected and the fact of the matter is that teens just aren’t ready to deal with it. Enjoy your youth, enjoy being free because while there is plenty of time to raise a child when you have matured, being a teenager has a limited time restraint. The media should be focusing on the joys of youth instead of young mothers being forced into growing up before they are ready. We need to take action as a society; as a country to prevent glamorized teen pregnancy and to share the harsh reality that teen mothers will likely face.





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