Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Miss California and the Glorification of Teen Pregnancy - 
A missed opportunity to do good. 

On January 14, 2012, America held it's annual "Miss America Pageant," a competition that touts a mission to represent high ideals of "beauty, grace, intelligence, artistic ability, and refinement."  

For the most part, I have no problem with this contest. The Miss America organization does much good throughout not just the US, but the entire world. Winners have represented our nation well throughout the years and I respect their platforms and the service they ultimately render. However, in the context of the competition itself, sometimes I wonder who these beautiful contestants are representing. Are they really looking to be examples to those young girls that look up to them? Or, are they more interested in singing the praises of the networks? 

My case in point:  (Que video to 4:29)

Before I move on to Miss California, I need to give props to Miss New York for her intelligent answer to the question about Occupy Wall Street. This is the type of intelligence and refinement I think the Miss America organization can be proud of. However, some contestants could've done a better job. 

Referencing TV shows like "Teen Mom"  and "16 and Pregnant", Miss California was asked about the  glorifying of teen pregnancy and what she thought of this type of reality TV show.

I'm not going to lie: I was riveted. My ears piqued and I scooted to the edge of my seat. They were talking my language. This was a question I could relate to. This is a subject I hold close to my heart! Miss California had a real opportunity to positively influence her audience. 

I eagerly anticipated her reply... "It absolutely does glorify being pregnant at a young age, but I have to recognize that there is definitely an appetite for reality television and it's the responsibility of the viewers to understand that we want to live our life different from these reality stars. It is an entertainment industry and I support those TV shows, but it is our responsibility to take responsibility for our own actions." 

I'm unclear. Is she opposed to glorifying teen pregnancy? Or, is she supportive of the TV networks? Is she touting the responsibility of teens to make good choices, or telling them it's okay to seek entertainment from the mistakes (and in some cases the "purposes") of young mothers? On the subject of teen-pregnancy, there is no room for fence sitting. Either you support our youth in making healthy, wise decisions about their futures or you don't. Either you give them the tools and the knowledge to make better choices, or you support the TV networks that glorify destructive behavior. There is no middle ground. 

So, you ask, what would my answer have been? 

"There is nothing glorious about having a baby when you are a teen and for a TV show to glorify it is an act ignorance and an injustice for those who find value in it. There is nothing wrong with drawing attention to a problem or in talking about it, however, creating a product that causes teen pregnancy to be admired and even praised further perpetuates the problem . The producers would be wise to show the struggles and the hardship that come to these teens not just now but as they (and their babies) mature." 

That's it in a nutshell. Teen pregnancy isn't glorious. Babies aren't toys to be played with. Parenting isn't something to take lightly. When we make adult decisions, we must face the adult consequences. Our kids deserve the facts. They deserve to have a fighting chance at a successful future. When we paint unrealistic pictures of "happy ever after" we are doing them an injustice. 

The responsibility is ours. Mothers, fathers, teachers, mentors, media outlets, celebrities, and friends.  Let's start a dialogue. Tell us what you think. What's your take on reality shows that glorify teen pregnancy?

(This post was originally posted on The Floor is Ours - a new blog designed with the intent to bridge the commutation gap  between teens and parents. If you are interested in being part of our The Floor is Ours youth or adult panel, please shoot me an email at s.worlton@gmail.com) 

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