Opinion | Sexuality

The Glamorous Life of the Pregnant Teenager

Do pop culture's portrayals of teen pregnancy harm young women?

When fast-fashion chain Forever 21 announced this month that they were rolling out a maternity line in five states—three of which have the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country—they were accused of what has become a common charge: glamorizing teen pregnancy. Like Juno, Jamie Lynn Spears, and Katherine Heigl's character in Knocked Up before them, Bristol Palin, 16 and Pregnant, and The Secret Life of the American Teenagerhave all faced criticism for promoting a deceptively attractive view of teenage motherhood. Have the baby, their implicit argument seems to go, and you can still look cute, have a career, and maybe even marry the father of your child.

Certainly reasonable arguments could be made that each of these pop culture icons have contributed to a softened, normalized view of teenage pregnancy. Kendall Jenner, the Kardashian half-sister and the face of Forever 21, is only 14. And the store's omnipresence in malls across the country, along with its trendy, low-priced fashions and frustratingly small sizes, certainly targets teenage girls. But as a 24-year-old, I confess that I still shop there, as do most of my friends—many of whom are going through their first (or second) pregnancies and love cheap maternity clothes that don't sacrifice style. Forever 21 already has a plus-size line as well as a "contemporary" line geared toward young professionals. Diversifying their offerings seems more like a good business strategy than a plot to convince U.S. teens ...

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