I’ve tried to hide it. I’ve gone through feeling ashamed, embarrassed, and trying to quit. But I’ve decided to just come out with it–I love MTV reality shows.
Numbers one and two are, naturally, “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom”. You would think I see enough pregnant and parenting teens at work, but somehow I don’t. It’s reassuring, in some strange way, to watch these girls make a mess of their lives, and know that I won’t be getting a phone call to fix it.
I like these shows because, like I’ve said, I like working with teen girls. I can watch “16 and Pregnant” or “Teen Mom” and be reminded of girls that I no longer work with and therefore no longer get to see. I can see a girl being a pain in the ass, and feel inexplicably nostalgic.
And yet, these shows have gotten a bad rap. They “glamourize” teen pregnancy. Really? Watching boy after boy choose his X-Box over his child, seeing girls drop out and miss their proms, listening to them talk about being stuck at home while their friends are all out partying? This is not my idea of glamour. Then again, I’ve always been enamoured with 1940s Hollywood, so my standards are probably impossibly high.
What drives me crazy, (and drives me to blog) is when people say that these shows set a bad example for girls. They said the same thing when Jamie Lynn Spears got pregnant. A Spears girl setting a poor example for young women? Perish the thought!
The girls I work with don’t need to turn on MTV to see pregnant teenagers. They’re already next to one in class. Most of their mothers first got pregnant as teenagers. Their sisters and aunts have done the same thing. It’s not a surprise to them to hear that teen pregnancy is possible. They’re usually more shocked to find out that having a couple of kids by age 20 is not an inevitibility.
People think that these girls are unrealistic about what being a mother will be like. They think that making them carry around eggs (blogger’s note: WTF is up with that?) or realistic dolls will make them see how much work a child is.
The thing is, most of these girls have been caring for children since they were barely in the double digits. They know that babies keep you up all night screaming, because they’ve been up with siblings since the fifth grade. They know babies eat every two hours and shit their pants, because they’ve been responsible for half of the feedings and diaper changings for their cousins, nieces, and nephews for most of their lives.
So when we say it’s setting a bad example, let’s be honest about who we’re talking about. It’s not teens in general. It’s mostly white, middle and upper class girls. And that’s fine. They need people to look out for them, like all teenagers do.
But maybe some of that righteous indignation, outrage and concern could be directed over this way.