Why We Actually Need Kylie Jenner's Pregnancy Narrative

Photo: Jerritt Clark/Getty Images.
After months of unconfirmed reports and having to use the word “alleged” a lot when talking about it, Kylie Jenner has finally let us off the hook. The youngest of the Kardashian/Jenner siblings announced to the world that she did indeed spent that last nine months pregnant, and the beauty mogul gave birth to a baby girl on February 1. This is the first child for her and rapper boyfriend Travis Scott. She posted an official statement to fans on Twitter, apologizing for keeping them “in the dark” throughout this process. She said, “I knew for myself I needed to prepare for this role of a lifetime in the most positive, stress free, and healthy way I knew how.” In Jenner’s special case — she’s a celebrity with millions of fans obsessed with her every move — privacy was of paramount concern. “I knew my baby would feel every stress and emotion so I chose to do it this way for my little life and our happiness,” she explained. Despite the speculation that Jenner was keeping the news of her baby to herself in order to capitalize on it later, it turns out that the 20-year-old just wanted to have a peaceful and joyous pregnancy.
It looks like she got her wish, too. Jenner followed her initial birth announcement with another tweet that linked to a YouTube video entitled, “To Our Daughter.” The video included a lot of the content that fans craved during her pregnancy — including the sweet well wishes from her friends, footage from her baby shower and doctor’s visits, and reactions from both her and Scott’s family. She was surrounded by love and support as she indulged in her cravings and set up the baby’s room. The video ended with audio of Jenner’s final moments of delivery and her daughter’s first cry. It was a beautiful clip that praised Jenner’s journey to motherhood, a sentiment that is often lacking for many other 20-year-olds who choose to become parents.
Jenner was 19 when news of her pregnancy broke. And almost immediately, questions about whether or not she had planned on becoming a parent (the way her friends tell it in the video, she did not) were at the forefront of people’s minds and Twitter timelines. This isn’t a phenomenon unique to Jenner. Young, unwed mothers are not often met with a chorus of congratulations and cheer. Instead, they often face shame, stigma, and reprimanding for making such a life-altering decision while muddling whatever timeline people have deemed more appropriate. Even when such criticisms are well-meaning, they miss the point.
Women's continued fight to exercise their right to access contraception and other family planning services like abortion has been at the forefront of our conversation about choice. Providing young women with resources and information to help them put off pregnancy until the exact right moment — when they’re old enough, have enough money, and/or have had enough experience as an adult to be truly ready for the task — has taken priority. But reproductive justice is actually about so much more than that. According to Forward Together, "Reproductive Justice is the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, economic, and social well-being of women and girls, and will be achieved when women and girls have the economic, social, and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, sexuality, and reproduction for ourselves, our families, and our communities in all areas of our lives." Meaning that the rights of people to parent even if they’re young, poor, or in any number of other less-than-ideal life circumstances, should also be protected.
What Jenner offered us in the 11-minute video chronicling her pregnancy was a blueprint for how it should be for every single person who decides to have a child: an experience free from criticism and reproach. Granted, Jenner’s class privilege cannot be understated in her realization of this dream. Already a millionaire, Jenner will never have to worry about whether or not she can provide her children with housing, food, and education. It was a privilege that she could spend so much time in hiding during her pregnancy while other women in her position likely still have to work up until they give birth; all the while facing the opinion of classmates, co-workers, peers, and other members of their communities. Jenner's whiteness protects her from the problematic narratives reserved for poor women of color who find themselves in the same boat. While women fight for adequate maternity leave, Jenner will be able to take all of the time she needs to be with her child, not having to worry about where her next check is coming from.
But despite her privilege, most of what fans saw in “To Our Daughter” was a reflection of what should be a standard practice for pregnant women of all ages, races, and class statuses. As hard as it may be for some people to accept, Kylie Jenner is still a human being, and I’m glad that she got to have the pregnancy that she’s always wanted. And even though all of the things that make parenthood harder for young people are real, adding condemnation on top of it is not right. So I don’t blame Jenner one bit for protecting herself and her child from such vitriol. And I hope the pleasant pregnancy she had as a result is something that we all learn from.
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