Tag Archives: life stories

Is teen-mom Kylie Jenner really the next role model?

So earlier this year Kylie Jenner, youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner sisters, gave birth to a baby girl at the age of twenty. And we all know that she isn’t any ordinary teen becoming a mom, she is a model, reality television star, socialite and social media tycoon. And with her lip kits and self-branded cosmetics business, also a multi-millionaire.

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Now she, having a baby at an age when most people are busting their backs getting degrees or working (and paying off their starter loans) might seem a little odd. Funnily though, it seemed only ‘a little’ odd, if not completely normal after a while when the news first broke in the media. And now look at us, talking about it as if nothing really major happened.

But the other day, I was at one of my friends’ house, just chatting about the news, when her mom tells me she too was a teen mom. And I look at my friend with an almost shocked and disbelieved look. I couldn’t believe that my friend, who would be twenty now, had a mother who was just eighteen years older than her. And suddenly a presumed mental image of their lives popped in my head, complete with all the society’s pressures, expectations and resentments. But then I also could see my friend sitting next to me, so happy and relaxed, and her mom so full of life and humour, I couldn’t help but wonder, what was life like for a regular person who became pregnant during their teenage years.

Did she get the same level of acceptance from the society as Kylie does today for her early pregnancy? What were the circumstances that lead to it? How did her family react to the news? Who supported her during the time and along the way? Did she feel alone? Did she feel ready? How did she manage to provide for her daughter when she herself was practically so young? Did the stress of a different (and a significantly difficult) life, make bonding with her daughter difficult? Have they reached to the point in their lives now, when they feel comfortable with their life’s story despite all the stigma attached to this bigger idea (and how)? How do they make this unique bond between them work amidst all the pressures and responsibilities?

All these questions, but the question that surprised me the most was the one that I asked myself, why did the idea of my friends’ mother being a teen mom shocked me when I felt next to normal when I heard Kylie Jenner’s news?

So, I sat down with my friend and her mom, for a day of storytelling and revelations.

“I was young when I got pregnant. And my family was very religious. My mother was understanding, but my father and the society [were] not so much. So, when they found out [about it] they demanded I marry *Margo’s dad. I knew he wasn’t ready but since that was the only option we were left with, we went for it. Eighteen years old, in love, married and with my baby on board, I was quite happy. And one of my sisters was also expecting her baby around the same time, so I was excited to have our babies grow up together.” **Lily says with a rueful smile on her face.

And I think to myself, well that’s a good start. Mostly everyone’s happy and there are no mean blames thrown here, like that would ever be in case of Kylie and her family, them celebrating this change instead of being worried about future.

Kylie Jenner at her Babyshower, November 2017

“But life works in unexpected ways,” continues Lily, “and shortly after a year of marriage, me and Margo’s dad separated. He wanted different things in life, [things] that no longer included room for his family. So, baby Margo and I went back to living with my mom. Suddenly single and with complete responsibility of my little baby but no real work experience, I felt like I had somehow further failed in life.”

I can see that on outside, Lily looks relaxed as she goes down the memory lane, though a pained expression plagues her face, as if she could almost physically feel all the stings and stigma of her past again.

“But my mother was there with me, supporting me still, and pushing me to not give up hope in life just yet. So, I studied to become a teacher, and later started teaching at this place called ‘Kumon’. See Kumon is a kind of an after-school in Brazil, where kids go to improve their English and Portuguese skills. But my earnings from [working] there weren’t enough to support my family. So, in year 2008 I decided to move to UK to make a better earning and life for us.”

So many twists and turns in such short time, I feel my own heart sinking a little for all the problems Margo’s mom had to face in her youth. Social stigma and financial security, now that’s something Kylie Jenner would never have to worry about. After all, she is a celebrity worth millions.

Reality television star, Owner of self-branded cosmetics, Multi-millionaire

“Coming to UK was not that hard, we came through our EU citizenship. But after that things again got tricky to manage. No job, money or even a proper place to live, the only thing I felt like I had was a little piece of my family here, in this foreign country. My sister and her husband were already [settled] here, so Margo and I simply moved in the same house as them. Getting a roof over our heads felt like a huge blessing I received after such a long time. Shortly after that I picked up job as a nanny, and since I already had teaching experience I was good at looking after children.” says Lily, looking proud of the bravery her younger self showed at the time.

But now a troubled, and sad look came upon Margo’s face.

“Ever since then mom has been working as nanny. In our first year here, mom worked so many hours that I barely got to see.” says Margo. “Sometimes I felt really bad, I was young you know, and I missed my mom so much. We never had enough time to spend together. But it got better with time, and I think I too adjusted with my new life.”

I see Lily exchange a subtle look of deep understanding with her daughter. And Margo continues, “It’s similar in the present, she is working until late but since I’m older now so I don’t really mind anymore.”

“But during the time when she worked a lot and I was young too, it was difficult. But then it all got better once we started travelling together. We went on our first vacation to Brazil in 2010, which was great! But we really started bond when we travel more after 2014, and we visited Spain, Italy, Scotland and many places around England. Travel became our thing, it became the activity which truly brought us together.”

“And I think the best moment [between me and mom] was in Spain, where we just played cards by the beach. In that moment, I could feel all our worries and responsibilities drifting in the back of our minds, and we could just focus on spending our time with each other.” says a glowing Margo, looking happy to relive that moment.

“I guess in hindsight, I think we got lucky a lot of times. I know it’s [life after teen pregnancy] not all the same for everyone, but I feel quite blessed and content with how my life turned out. I am happy now, with only a few regrets, but who doesn’t have some [regrets in life] anyway.” says a broadly smiling Lily.

Margo and I were still sitting in Lily’s living room, but Lily took her leave to prep some tea for everyone after sharing her life’s story. And I can’t help but think to myself, even though they feel comfortable in their lives, look so happy now, and boldly accept their story, but overcoming all of that pain and struggle must take a lot of hard work and constant effort every single day. We all know by now that not everyone who walks down this path gets a happily ever after. Society makes that possibility perfectly clear and unforgettable, but only for the ordinary people. The rich and famous have the privilege and means to break free of the social boundaries that most of the world has to live in.

So, my only hope is that girls out there who are now in a similar position, transitioning into teen moms, don’t go into this life naively thinking it would all be rainbows because of what they see of celebrity lives on social media.

 

(Names of *daughter and **mom have been changed to maintain their privacy and anonymity)

 

From words to activism

Marta Guerreiro, is a Portuguese writer that came to London three years ago, “I wanted to study abroad, in a place where I would have more opportunities, where I could have my freedom and my independence.” She is studying journalism at the University of East London, but her career started way before that.

How did that the book started?
I had a lot of free time; I was finishing the second year of high school in Portug226045_109673569131279_8215099_nal. Instead of going out I decide to stay home during the summer. I never harsh about it as a book, but just a story. But when I finish I realise it was big enough, and that was good, I send it to publishers, and one of them wanted to publish the book, and some days later it was on sale in bookstores.

How was it deal with fame at such a young age?
It was weird. I never thought that something that I wrote would become so famous in my country. After the interview that I did for a Portuguese channel, everyone knew who I was, but not for a long time. It was strange because by the time I was just 15, and my book was related to the subject of cerebral palsy and depression. For me, at that age, it was hard to answer questions related to this topic, just because I was not able to give them the right answer at that time because I was so young.

Can you tell me a little more about the questions? What was the hardest question that someone asked you, or the one that you remember the most?
Well, the one that I remember the most was this lady that accused me of using my sister to get money, what is wrong, because or you are already a successful writer, or is hard to get money from your first book. About the questions once there was this email from a lovely lady, that her mother had a disability, her husband tries to commit suicide she was desperate asking me for help, help that I didn’t know how to give. That was the time that I said to my mum that I had to stop to receive this kind of emails, it was not healthy, at least not for me. I was not the person to ask this kind of things; I didn’t know anything at the time, I was just a kid. But there was one that I really could help; it was a lady, with two children, one with cerebral palsy and the other one healthy, she asked me If I could talk to the healthy one to help him out on how to deal with the situation. That moment gave me straights because it shows that my book could and can help people, I just felt such a bliss.

“I couldn’t handle the subjects that I was writing about”

Situations evolve, so where were you after all this?
After I write the book, I felt a lot of pressure from the editor, my friends and all the people525845_285509671547667_3114445_n that follow me on social media. So, I wrote the second one, not because I wanted but just because of the pressure. As a result, I never read that book because I don’t like it, I don’t even like to look at it. Is not something that I’m proud. After that experience I quite writing, I wanted nothing to do with that. I wanted to be as far as I could from writing because people always associated me with that young girl that wrote about something so mature. So, I spend about four years without writing, just writing some things on my blog but not in the same way that I use to write.

So how do you look at that girl now? And how you see yourself in the future?
Now, I look at that girl as a girl that had an amazing experience and a privilege for having something publish so young, but in my future projects, I don’t want to have the same experience the way I had before (like that girl). I want to do something that I’m proud of and about something that I can handle. At that time, I couldn’t handle the subjects that I was writing about; it was supposed to be something personal and become something famous. Right now, I’m back to writing, for magazines and blogs but is an activist kind of writing; now I’m different Marta.

You told before that you add a break of 4 years of writing, but was in that four years that you become an activist. How was that change?
When I stop writing, I felt that I should be something that I wanted to be, not the perfect child that write a book, and every parent want it. I was perfect for the other people eyes, that wasn’t the truth I had a lot of difficulties, as a person and people didn’t know that they were expecting something of me that was not me able to give. After that experience, I became an LGBT+ activist, because I want it to shout out loud that you can be a writer, do amazing projects and still have your voice. You don’t have to be the perfect person that society wants you to be and being activist an LGBT+ person, and still, do amazing things, so one thing does lien to another, you can be queer, have tattoos, pricings, whatever and still be a foreign student, a writer. I have the impression that people aren’t aware of that when I was writing the first book.

 

“If people are anti-feminism at least they heard about it”

 

How was your activism? Where you a part of any group or association?

I was a volunteer for a group of family planning since I was 12 till I was 16, mostly of what I did was go to school and events talk to young people the importance of protecting yourself, and offering condoms in the end. With that, I work with LGBT+ people, in events as the Pride where I had the contact with the community.

The LGBT+ society changes a lot since then till now. Does this society still rep17806996_697783313726269_1670027891_nresent what you believe?
I am a part of this community (LGBT+), but I understand that inside of the community there’s a lot of homophobia, racism, transphobia. I’m still part of the community, but I’m aware of the problems that exist inside of the community, it doesn’t mean that doesn’t represent me, but at the same time I want to be sure that I know the problems inside the community and I want to be able to deal when this kind of situations happen.

Talking about other activism that you do, being a feminist, you saw the evolution of this movement. How this affect you has a woman and as a writer?
I think feminism become so mainstream because the social network is a tool now that did exist back in the days, but this social network as a great importance because it makes you share information, reaching young people and reaching the right meaning of feminism. I don’t think it was awesome for the word to be an underdog, I don’t even know for real that it was that underdog because I was so young, but when I was 16, I saw a lot of grown up women fighting for feminism. Maybe it was mainstream for us as young people, but now that I’m aware that a lot of individuals are feminism and a lot of individuals are anti-feminism I find it more mainstream. It is essential that we talk about it, the fact that people think is a bad word it means that the word is out there, people are reading it, people know about it. If people are anti-feminism at least they heard about it, they are just misinformed or are just sexists, but at least they know it exists is not a taboo anymore.17807183_697783317059602_909501900_n

To finish, do think we live in a men’s world?
I don’t think I know for sure if you see politics is about them. For example, men can be described as good actors, but women normally are described as a hot actress, the pay gap is also a good example. But what show me that we live in a men’s world is the different way that we judge different genders, as the men are more likely to be judged by their character, the women are more judge by their looks. It hurts me because I see amazing women, that have fantastic ideas, but they are cut down because they aren’t man. There was a lot of women doing amazing thing for science, maths and other areas but they are not recognised in the same way as men, as you can see in the film High Figures for example. Women are still considered guilty for being rape; women are killed in some countries because they try to fight for their rights. So obviously is a men’s world and I end up suffering for being a woman. The politic situation now shows that the world is not a safe place for us and we still need to continue fighting.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/207698266″>International Women’s Day</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user11314748″>Marta Guerreiro</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>