Kylie Jenner is hiding the first signs of a (rumored) baby bump in oversized T-shirts and baggy clothes, but the 20-year-old reality star, who is reportedly expecting her first child with her boyfriend of five months Travis Scott, is said to be overjoyed over the news.
News broke on TMZ on Friday that the youngest Kardashian-Jenner sister, 20, is due in February, which means she became pregnant when she was 19. Her momager, Kris Jenner, has refused to confirm the news just yet, although no denials have been issued. Caitlyn Jenner reportedly heard the news along with everyone else.
And while Kylie is reportedly thrilled, is the CEO of her own company, has major family support, and likely won’t face the hardships an ordinary teen does while becoming a mom, what does this mean for her fans? Well, possibly a bunch of copycat pregnancies.
“It’s hard to say a hard yes or no [if we’ll see a trend with more teenage girls becoming pregnant]; it depends on so many different factors, but I do feel a lot of times that when people see things in the media, and with celebrities, they really can spark trends,” says LCSW Teen Psychotherapist Liz Morrison, who is based in New York City.
Liz says that when 13 Reasons Why, a story surrounding a teenage girl who takes her own life, premiered on Netflix, it “sparked a lot of teens who maybe had depressive feelings or thoughts of hurting themselves to act on that.” “Studies have shown it had an influence,” she adds.
So it’s entirely possible that Kylie’s pregnancy could influence her fans and followers to think it totally acceptable to get pregnant young, even thought they might not have the same resources as Kylie. “It’s very possible that it could influence teen girls because she is an influencer,” Liz explains. “She has her makeup line, her lip kits, and teens especially like her.”
“If it is perceived as a cool thing that she’s pregnant, it’s possible that other teens may say ‘hey it’s cool, maybe I should get pregnant,” Liz says.
What’s behind that thinking?
For one, it could influence teens to see that scandal and drama come with a lot of extra attention.
“The thought process is you want attention…look, she got pregnant and she has all the attention now,” Liz says. “Sometimes teens, when they are looking for attention, even negative attention, they will do these grand things and not think about the consequences. They think ‘I’ll get pregnant right now' but then they don’t necessarily think what to do with a baby. They think people are going to give me gifts and talk about me. All the focus will be on me.”
And while only Kylie really knows if the pregnancy was planned, she was likely very influenced herself by her older sisters, and even brother, Rob, who has a baby himself.
“Her sisters are either pregnant or struggling to get pregnant. If it was planned, I’d say she probably was very influenced; if not, I’d say it was still kind of influenced,” Liz says. “I’m sure also when you do have the financial resources and the support of a huge family, she’s not feeling like it’s daunting, like someone who doesn’t have the means.”
As for her business, this gives a lot of incentives for baby stores and products to work with Kylie and give her products in exchange for Instagram shots, which is a reward.
“I do feel like it does glamorize it in a lot of ways; however, if you’re prepared and responsible and you have support and you feel like you’ve led enough of your life, that makes sense,” Liz says.
“But for a teen, I don’t know if they even know the consequences” she adds. “Kylie also also grew up really fast and for 20 she’s been working the majority of her life, she’s not actually getting the real childhood that other teens might get. Maybe she feels like she’s lived more of her life already.”
Parents and teachers can make conversations easier by just bringing up uncomfortable topics and facing them head on.
“It’s important for schools and educators to bring this up,” Liz says. “Say ‘we heard Kylie Jenner’s pregnant, schools and parents bring it up: ‘Hey I heard this…let’s talk about it. Ask ‘do you have any thoughts and feelings about wanting to have a baby?”
Bill Albert, deputy director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, says teen pregnancy rates have been on a steady incline and that has made it lose some stigma.
"I think one of the reasons why this country's rates of teen pregnancy are high is that we simply do not have a strong social norm that teen pregnancy is not OK," Albert tells LiveScience. "I think that’s why the rates in Great Britain, Japan, Italy and the Netherlands are significantly lower compared to ours. There, there is a very strong social norm that there is a sequence to life's events, you don’t begin a family when you are 16 years old."
Liz says studies have shown that the more conversations exist around a taboo topic, the less likely teens are to go through with it.
“It becomes a normalized conversation. If a teen feels like a conversation is being opened without them having opened it, there’s less likely a chance they’ll move forward with something like getting pregnant.”
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