You may have noticed a tweet or two in your timeline this month (if you're on Twitter) with the hashtag #NoTeenPreg. It was most likely followed by a plea for a celebrity to follow them, perhaps repeated a few times with desperation turning to anger that ‘said celeb’ had not followed back.
Some tweets are more imaginative asking celebs who is their ‘fave from One Direction’ or what nail polish they’re wearing, or ‘if they ever had a tattoo what would it be’, with the obligatory yet seemingly random pre-fix of #NoTeenPreg. If your choice of Twitter follows is somewhat questionable, you will find #NoTeenPreg tweets followed by a statement that ‘all teen mums are sluts’ or that they should ‘just stop spreading their legs’.
Some tweets accuse girls of stupidly ‘getting themselves pregnant’ to get on TV, advocating that there should be more shame to stop this MTV-induced ‘epidemic’. Other tweeters, perhaps more innocently, simply state that teenage pregnancy ‘makes them so mad’, or that they ‘had a cousin who was a teen parent and doesn’t take care of her kid’. The beginning of May soon saw the #NoTeenPreg trending on twitter, aptly signifying the start of the ‘National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month’…
The organisation behind this #NoTeenPreg tweeting trend is The Candie's Foundation, an American organsisation that recruits celebrities such as Chris Brown and Bristol Palin (lmao omg) to promote their message of preventing teenage pregnancies.
Their latest advert offers the slogan; ‘you should be changing the world, not changing diapers’, their billboards in New York provide instructions to tweet the #NoTeenPreg hashtag during May, the recruited celebs then promised a follow back session if #NoTeenPreg trends on twitter, hence the potential bombardment of such tweets on your timeline.
Apparently the idea behind the #NoTeenPreg campaign is to raises awareness, although many on twitter have questioned the actual impact of exposure to such a simplistic tweet. While some young mums are happy to join in, many others have taken objection with their age being used as justification for others to critisise their situation and choices, or the assumptions that you can’t both change the world AND nappies.
Most people who seem happy to accept the #NoTeenPeg message would more than likely be horrified at the thought of any other group being placed between the words ‘No’ and ‘Pregnancy’.
Reproduction choices tend to be considered personal and private yet if you happen to be under 20, it’s apparently everyone else’s business, the girl is considered fair game to be judged and shamed, middle-aged men are considered justified in their attacking of young girls, and peers at school are given ammunition to alienate and humiliate teenage mums, while they congratulate themselves on not becoming ‘one of those girls’. It’s not the normalising of teenage pregnancy that we need to worry about, as much as the normalisation of blaming and disempowering young mothers.
The reasons for teenage pregnancy are complex and multi layered, yet young parents are doing an important job of bringing up members of the next generation, with each one changing the world to some degree.
Maybe when the celeb obsessed tweeters realise that without any teenage pregnancy there would be no Justin Bieber they may want to expand their hashtag to add some caveats, and hopefully they will start to question the assumptions and generalisations applied to a national campaign to stop the reproduction of a section of society, as defined by an arbitrary age range.