An unsettling segment called “Mothers of Unplanned Consequences” was recently on abc.
The media is doing quite a pronatalist number on young women, and the young moms are the ones who end up paying quite the price.
Groups of young women agree to get pregnant together and then compete to get on reality tv. Or just a teen does it on her own after seeing her friend become teen mom star on MTV’s “Teen Mom” or “16 and Pregnant.” They get paid a lot of money to be on television, appear on magazine covers–fame has stuck.
But not for long. After their “15 minutes of fame” they have the real reality–they have to go home and raise the child. Pregnancy is glorified; fame is glorified.
The consequence–young women don’t realize how much they gave to become a celebrity mother until after they become a real, day-to-day mother. They give up their youth, and many things they wanted to do with their lives.
There are lots of great efforts out there to help prevent unplanned pregnancy, and yes, we need to do more. But the teen celebrity phenom goes beyond lack of information or access to contraception. It’s the lure of fame with help of the media promising it that wins over the reproductive sensibilities the teen may have.
Theories of the psychology of fame tell us that it’s motivated by the desire for recognition, to be loved and wanted. Becoming a celebrity teen mom is a way for young women to get it.
All of this I find upsetting. It’s sad, really. Is it that they are so sorely lacking the recognition they deserve at home and at school? Or are these ways just not enough in today’s celebrity crazed culture of ours–to be “truly” recognized? What does it say about our society that young women get convinced that the only way they will be seen as special, of value or worthy of notice is to become pregnant so young in life?
It is a painful example of pronatalism and the media working to the detriment of many young women.
What’s your take on teens’ pursuit of fame through pregnancy?
It’s really sad and scary actually! 🙁 I feel sorry for them and get angry at the same time. I think they are too young to really undersand what they are getting into…
Artemis, I agree–I get angry that media forces play it up when this kind of thing affects the rest of these young women’s lives…
Even if we were to see a follow-up show about these teenaged girls and their infants, we would never hear them tell the camera (of if they did, it would end up on the cutting room floor) how being an unwed teen mom has ruined her life. Instead, we would hear them say “It was sooooo worth it!”, giving the other young teenaged girl viewers even more reason to get knocked up.
Hey deegee, Agreed–although at the end of this segment the young woman who was about to have the child already was forthcoming about the fact she already knew it was a mistake..so sad.
One thing I’m worried about is deflation, for lack of a better word — that being 16 and pregnant won’t be such a big deal for a TV show anymore. It will become no big deal anymore, so then the only way to be famous is to be 14 and pregnant or 13 and pregnant.
Does it bother anyone else that these are shows based on people having sex before the age of legal consent? This is not only promoting having children before you’re ready, but also having sex before you’re mature enough to handle it. If the biological fathers of the babies are over the age of 17, then in many states we’re talking about rape, technically.
Scott, excellent point. When it comes to teen pregnancy numbers, I wonder how many fathers are over the age of 17…..~L
Are the parents anywhere or are they pimps? I think this is VERY disturbing trend. Perhaps we’ll see some lawsuits down the line against this kind of exploitation. What is the difference between this and prostitution, really? I also agree with Scott; the bar is dropping lower and lower. God knows what we’ll see eventually.
I saw a bit of this as I just came back from a trip to the US. But yes where are their parents…says something about the whole sorry cycle of how some kids are raised.