February 19th, 2009 10:51 EST
Is Being a Single Mother Glamorous?
Jamie Lynn Spears is making headlines, not because she has a new movie coming out. Nor because her Nickeleon TV show, Zoey 101, is receiving rave reviews or great ratings. She is making headlines for the simple fact that she almost becomes the most famous single teen mother in the history of Hollywood. People applaud the fact she is gotten her GED, reportedly bought a $300,000 home and spent thousands on a nursery.
She is not the only celebrity teen parent. Oscar nominated teen actress Keisha Castle Hughes of the Whale Rider became a teen-aged mother. So did, Beyonce`s little sister, Solange Knowles. And Fantasia Barrino, once a teen-age mom, overcame the odds and won American Idol.
Teen pregnancy is such a popular topic that the ABC soap opera, One Live to Live, is writing in a teen pregnancy story line to parallel Jamie Lynn Spears.
Sadly, Hollywood is not reflecting on what is going on in mainstream America. When the average teen finds herself dealing with an unplanned pregnancy it is not a storybook ending like these young ladies. These starlets` lives and careers still flourish after they`ve given birth. They all have the cushion of money to help them bounce back from this monumental life-changing event. The road is not so bright and rosy for a normal girl their age in the same situation.
Juno won an Oscar and numerous independent film awards for its portrayal of a teen-age girl dealing with her pregnancy. Even her tale of teen pregnancy seemed too good to be true. What regular teenage girl has not wished at one time or another that they didn`t have such understanding and supporting parents and a teenage boyfriend who did not freak out and bounce from the state?
Young girls` getting pregnant is nothing new. It has been happening since the beginning of time. The Virgin Mary was technically an unwed teen-age mother.
And it is not just teen stars that are becoming single parents, so are many of today`s hottest stars. Halle Berry, Nicole Richie, Jessica Alba are all becoming single mothers. Never has being an unwed mother been so celebrated in an over hyped celebrity culture.
Hollywood once paralleled society in its view toward out of wedlock pregnancies. We all heard the classic story of the old Hollywood starlet dropped out of the public eye to deal with an unplanned pregnancy only to reemerge childless. Shortly, after a new baby brother or sister will appear in the family, one looking a lot like his or her big sister.
Child star Dana Plato, of Different Strokes career ended as a result her teen pregnancy and the star lived out the rest of her life working low paying jobs, finally dying of a drug overdose at the age of 34. Out of wedlock pregnancies were as taboo in Hollywood as they were in mainstream society. Now single motherhood is a common place and no longer frowned upon. So, is single motherhood more prevalent in Hollywood because there are fewer stigmas in today`s culture? Or vice versa?
While these women become front-page news, the media rarely brings forward the stories of struggling single mothers. We never hear about the other side of single parenthood.
Names of those like Banita Jacks, the Washington D.C. single mother living in poverty who is accused of murdering her four daughters, received one or two headlines after their tale of single motherhood ends in tragedy.
Their stories are only good for single headlines. Our shock and grief is usually thrown away with yesterday`s newspaper.
Young people are being overexposed to the "happy ending` manufactured in Hollywood. Media is no longer fair and balanced. Too much attention is being placed on celebrities, while ignoring the struggle of the every day person.
In reality, being a single mother is the hardest job in the world. There are no red carpet premieres, no trips to buy expensive baby clothes at Petit Tresor. Nobody is offering a million dollars to get the first picture of the baby. There are not too many handsome excited soon to be single fathers at their sides, either.
The media approach to single motherhood is blatantly contradictory. Single poor mothers are chastised for making poor choices, while rich single mothers as hailed for being strong woman who are making powerful choices about their reproductive lives.
Is being a single mother only okay if the mother is rich and famous?
Let society tell it, Jamie Lynn Spears made a simple mistake, while 16-year-old "Sheniqua Jackson` in the inner city has ruined her life. In this country, the babies of these two teen-age mothers will have vastly different futures. Jamie`s baby will be in countless magazines. She will be praised for being brave by making the decision to have her child, as Sheniqua will be told more or less she made a poor choice of keeping the baby and should have had an abortion.
Getting her GED may be viewed an accomplishment to Jamie Lynn, but to an ordinary single mother it may be viewed as the beginning of a low-income lifestyle. They cannot afford nannies and high priced babysitters to allow them to continue on with their education. Obtaining a high school diploma is a struggle for the typical teen mom, let alone trying to attend college.
With the news reporting 1 in 4 teen-age girls are infected with a STD, society cannot ignore the fact teen-agers having unprotected s*x. Which means not only are they opening themselves up to s*xually transmitted diseases, but also to unplanned pregnancies. When teen-age girls see the smiling sixteen year old Jamie Lynn and her newborn baby on the cover of a magazine, what message is media sending to them? It`s a question all parents must ask their teen daughters before it is too late.