The Truth Board

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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Teen Epidemic

Trends come and go. Some fads can be based around fashion. Introduced in the 90s were the grunge look, the baggy clothes, and the platform shoes. With the 2000s came the popped collars, the UGG boots, and trucker hats. If you are at all like me, you are shaking your head in disbelief of how these styles were once considered “cool.” Diving deeper into trends, you can find layers that involve media consumption, music, books, video games, things that were “all the rage” for a short period of time. I myself have been the follower of some unfortunate fads, as has just about everyone else who is reading this. There is one specific fad that I did not follow, a trend I hope dies out faster than parachute pants.

When walking through malls or going to the movies in high school, if I were to ever catch a glimpse of a pregnant teen, my first thought would be uncertainty. How could this young girl be pregnant? On this rare occasion, I would turn my thoughts to sympathy, knowing that whether or not she is keeping this baby, her life will never be the same. Whatever normality that high school was supposed to bring was now turned upside down for her. In the end, I couldn’t help but think, thank God this poor girl wasn’t me or my friends. Cut to senior year, prom night. Just as it happens in the movies, where the guy gets the girl to sleep with him for the first time after an innocent night of dancing, my friend had a night that changed her life forever. It wouldn’t be until months later that we realized why she was absent so many times right before graduation, why she had removed herself from all of us. She gave her baby up for adoption and went on to attend college a year after we started, but I know that isn’t how most women want to experience giving birth for the first time.

With my senior year also brought rumors of younger girls becoming pregnant. As the years have passed and the media has glorified teen pregnancy, there is no doubt in my mind that more teenagers are having babies. The student body of a high school in Tennessee consists of 90 teenage mothers. The superintendent clarified this statistic by stating that teenagers who are pregnant seek out this certain school, and that 35 of these 90 women transferred in after becoming pregnant. Either way, I can’t help but wonder if these girls were influenced at all by the media glamorization of teen pregnancy. Here’s how that works: be a teenager, get pregnant, have MTV follow you around, get paid big money, and become famous. This sequence has been the result of the popular and successful shows like 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom.

Although I have fallen victim to the trashy television that MTV feeds American teens, I still find it hard to believe that teen pregnancy has become an outright trend. No longer is it something looked down upon in society. Forever 21, the famous teenage to young adult clothing store has so openly acknowledged the need for cute maternity clothes. Their target audience, females from the ages of 14 to 24, has made it possible for this company to expand their lines to include clothes for young pregnant women. It astounded me when I first heard, and while I would like to look fashionable whenever I am pregnant, I will not be turning to Forever 21 for my maternity clothing needs.

As much as I can say these shows are a negative influence to this teen pregnancy trend, others will disagree. Dr. Drew Pinksy, the doctor who interviews the girls after each season finale, has done his own research on the effects of 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom. To my surprise, he has found that many teenagers see this show as a reason to avoid teen pregnancy, seeing what their lives would be like if they were to become pregnant. Others use it as an opportunity to begin the ever-so-avoided conversation about sex with their parents. This in turn is making teenagers more aware and knowledgeable about the subject.

Whether or not you think the media attention brings a certain appeal to teen pregnancy or helps discourage the statistics from rising, I think you might agree with the fact that these “stars” should not be getting paid half of what they do. Because of the abuse she caused her boyfriend, Amber Portwood of Teen Mom had to report her earnings to a judge. This revealed that these women get paid a good $280,000 a year from the show. That is more money than most make in 5 years. Teen pregnancy isn’t just any fad or trend, it has become an epidemic.


--Jackie DiBiase


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