June 20, 2008

A (Baby) Bump in the Road

Posted in In the news, Uncategorized tagged , at 7:16 pm by R

I saw the most disturbing thing ever on the Today Show this morning. A whole slew of high school sophomores at Glouster High School in Glouster, Mass. DELIBERATELY got pregnant. None of them is older than 16.

The Today Show segment featured comments from the Time Magazine writer who broke the story, the lovely & talented Kathleen Kingsbury. She noted that some of the girls wanted the unconditional love and security of being something, someone…a mother.

But I wonder if the influence isn’t compounded by the decreasing availability of jobs in the city of Glouster or even past a desire for immense love. Could the media play a role in this?

By no means am I asserting that the media is solely responsible for the decisions of these young ladies. Nor am I saying that new mother Jamie Lynn Spears recent, public pregnancy is why, for the first time in years, there’s been a rise in teen pregnancy. But there is something to be said about the pervasive coverage of pregnant celebrities. It’s become this weird status thing.

If you stand in line at a grocery store, chances are you’ve seen a pregnant celebrity lately. I’ll list a few (because, I can’t tell a lie, I get US Weekly, People AND OK magazine delivered to my house – a bit shameful but true): Nicole Kidman, Angelia Jolie, Ashlee Simpson and, of course, Jamie Lynn Spears.

Jamie Lynn’s pregnancy is the one that really sticks out for me with respect to this Glouster situation. She is a 17 year old girl. She’s the one these girls in Glouster can relate to. But can they really? Uhhh…NO. They aren’t TV stars from a family who can offer every advantage and support a new baby too. I certainly don’t know what their individual circumstances are, but my guess is none of them is independently a millionaire.

When Jamie Lynn’s pregnancy was announced on the cover of OK Magazine, people asked what kind of consequence her situation might have on young girls who look up to her. Well, I think we know now. But someone has been telling that story all along. (Read: Someone has been sugarcoating this all along and now teenage women are CHOOSING teenage pregnancy because it seems acceptable, even cool.)

The most ironic (and maybe even appropriate) twist to this story is, the day the Time story made its debut, so did Jamie Lynn’s baby. A girl. Maddie Briann.

As publicists and marketers we are supposed influence teen girls want a certain pair of jeans or some celebrity’s new fragrance, not to make life decisions that will effect their existence. The third party editorial endorsement (simply by being included in pages of popular culture magazines) is strong medicine.

Let’s make eating healthy, exercising regularly, loving your body, being green, serving your community, loving yourself the status symbols. Why aren’t we lavishing praise and adoration on people and celebrities who achieve these things in balance?

As much as I’m guilty of digesting the information in celebrity gossip magazines, guessing if people are sporting baby bumps, commenting on weight loss, weight gain, questionable red carpet outfits, etc., I like to believe that as a part of the media process I can help lift up the content; help lift up the readership through content with substance.

I hope it all works out for these girls and for the youngest Spears…I take that back, the SECOND youngest Spears.

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3 Comments »

  1. Shannon Rice said,

    wow. great post. but such a sad story for those girls. why in the world would you want to deliberately be preggers while in H.S. Sad that those girls won’t experience a typical high school life!!

  2. N. J. Stewart-Smith said,

    You sentiment harks back to a famous common sense column by Ellen Goodman in which she lamented the celebrities who were pregnant and unmarried influencing young women. For the celebrities, the burdens of motherhood were lessened by nannies, their income and education – unlike teens with, little education, less income and no celebrity.

  3. […] in Uncategorized at 9:28 am by Robyn A few weeks back I wrote a post about a Time article that addressed the story of a bunch of teenage girls from Gloucester, Mass. […]


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