When newly appointed spokesperson for the Candie's Foundation, Bristol Palin, went on the morning television circuit urging teens to "wait to have sex," my first thought was, "Till when? Tuesday?". Palin, daughter of Alaskan governor, Sarah Palin, became the object of national focus during the governor's ill-fated campaign for the White House in 2008 for getting pregnant at age 17 by then boyfriend, Levi Johnston. Since Candie's launched the Candie's Foundation in 2001, their mission has been to "educate America's youth about the devastating consequences of teenage pregnancy." Here is a clip of "Lil mama" on the TODAY show:
After watching this, I immediately applauded their efforts to curb teenage pregnancy in America. But when I applied some critical thinking about the spokesperson, the message, and the messenger, I observed the beautiful hypocrisy of how we deal with teen pregnancy in America. While the messenger, the Candie's Foundation, advises kids that being sexy "doesn't mean having sex" (contradicting the actual definition of the word "sexy"), Candie's, the parent company, makes it's earnings selling risque clothing and shoes directly marketed to young Americans with "sexy" images. While sexy images don't necessarily mean images of sex, they are designed to inspire the thought of it. That's almost like running a drug empire and using proceeds to fund anti-drug education (I'm not speaking of any specific individuals, organizations, or government agencies). The whole thing is suspicious.
Imagine being an actor or actress like Jenny McCarthy, for example. Imagine being approached by a company to pose pantless while sitting on a toilet. Then imagine the same company asking you to do this PSA:
.. And then, there's the spokesperson, Ms. Palin. While the young mother has not convinced me that she is now celibate or practices abstinence, she HAS convinced me that being a single teen mother is tough, both emotionally and financially. Accepting a spokesperson contract that helps out with the bills is reason enough to pay lip service to any issue.
My goal is not to combat efforts to curb teen pregnancy. In fact, these observations point at a major culprit of teen pregnancy in the US: mixed media messages. It seems like every abstinence campaign is outnumbered 5 to 1 by more provocative ad campaigns. The case of Candie's is really ridiculous. While their sexy ad campaigns are reproduced and distributed throughout the world millions of times over in magazines geared towards young girls, their messages of "waiting" will probably fall on deaf ears and blind eyes. Last time I checked, the morning talk shows aired when class is in session.