I tend to have sympathy for Bristol Palin, even though I violently disagree with her mother’s politics, simply because her personal life has been used so often as a symbol for something large and political – teen pregnancy, the abortion debate, contraceptive use, abstinence (the list goes on). But this new ad from the Candie’s Foundation, featuring Palin, has such an obscenely classist message that much of that sympathy flew out the window as soon as I was finished watching it.
In it, Palin cautions teens to “pause before you play.” However, this comes after Palin makes it clear that this does not apply for people whose families are privileged. Looking straight into the camera, Palin says, “What if I didn’t come from a famous family? What if I didn’t have all their support? What if I didn’t have all these opportunities? Believe me, it wouldn’t be so pretty.” The not-so-pretty alternative, apparently, is a bare room with a crying baby on the ground, and a tee shirt and jeans instead of her Chanel jacket.
She’s right, it would have been much more difficult for her to raise 15-month-old Tripp, had she not had such a privileged background. And in a sense, this honesty is refreshing. But what is the message: teenage pregnancy is acceptable as long as you come from a wealthy family, but not if you’re poor? That it’s okay if she gets pregnant because of her class background, but because you probably don’t, you need to think before you act? Absurdly offensive and classist, to say the least.
On Good Morning America, Palin discussed the ad, saying, “It could be pause and go get a condom or it could be pause and think about your life or it could even be pause and wait until marriage.” But, knowing what I do about the Candie’s Foundation (where the mission is to “educate youth about the devastating consequences of teen pregnancy” – it’s not so into teaching teens how to prevent it, beyond keeping their legs closed), the implication is that teens need to be abstinent – unless, of course, you have a recognizable last name, and then you can do whatever you want. Palin may be trying to use her celebrity for good, but this condescending, classist approach misses the mark by a mile.
Photo courtesy of the Candie's Foundation.
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