About a month ago I saw this interview with Bristol Palin where she talks about her advocacy role against teenage pregnancy. A couple things about the interview didn't seem right with her message, and got me to thinking about the example that her and others put to young motherhood. The words are "it's hard, wait 10 years." But when talking about baby Tripp she's joyful and proud, as most mothers are. She's thankful for him and acknoweldges he's not a mistake and doesn't regret having him. All of that may be true, but doesn't help the "wait" message. Add that to her natural beauty and the attractiveness of motherhood is so much more appealing than that dull 4 letter w-word.
Then, today, I heard about MTV's 16 and Pregnant. Watching Ferrah's story just added to the thoughts I had when watching Bristol's interview: the intentions are "wait." But for many young women, another message is received. Many things about Ferrah makes pregnancy look cute. She's got a supportive family, and though later in the episode we see difficulty in her situation (I felt sad and alone watching the latter portion), there's still an element of possibility. Young mothers really can be wonder woman.
The same is true for ABC Family's The Secret Life of an American Teenager. Shailene Woodley plays Amy, a teenage mother, effectively making it all work. (While maintaining an excellent wardrobe and physique, I might add.) Here Shai talks about the message the show portrays. Amy is a struggling teenage mother and others should learn from her and wait. Once again, that's not necessarily the final message.
Are these messages helping or hindering? Does it change any of the images of attractive young mothers in the media (i.e., Jamie Lynn Spears)? Or is it making abstinence look like an even bigger flop than before?
The psychologist in this interview with a Mass. teen mother briefly addresses that same point. The teen says the media images don't make it okay, and in rational thought it's not okay. But what are those repeated images and underlying messages doing to the young female psyche? The answer to that question might 'cause many to think further about how they choose to address teenage pregnancy and even abstinence. Or at least leave the cuddly babies out of the picture when you're trying to make a case for the w-word.