MTV show puts spotlight on area’s teen moms

By RACHEL SHUBIN

Special to the Star and Wave

MTV is once again filming a reality television show in New Jersey. With a due date of this fall, “Teen Mom New Jersey” is the latest spinoff of “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” franchise. Teen Mom New Jersey will follow young moms in southern Jersey area.

The official announcement was made Aug. 27, during the MTV Video Music Awards. NJ.com broke the news on Aug. 30, stating that MTV was seen filming at the Cumberland County Fair. MTV had multiple casting calls this year, searching for teen moms and young expectant mothers located in the same area.

According to America’s Health Rankings 2015 report, New Jersey had a birth rate of 40 per 1,000 females ages 15-19 in 1993. That number declined to 13 per 1,000 in 2016.

Per the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, New Jersey has seen a 71 percent decline in teen pregnancy between 1991 and 2015. In 2014 there were 3,678 births to teens. Of Teen births in New Jersey, 72% are to older teens ages 18 to 19. Data shows that 16 percent of the births were to teens who already had a child.

In 2010, public spending on unplanned pregnancies in New Jersey approximately cost $477 million.

Cape May County has two programs that offer family planning. The Hope Pregnancy Center has locations in Rio Grande and Ocean City. The Hope Pregnancy Center offers free and confidential services. Family Planning Services is a program which offers family planning and gynecological services and care for women and adolescents. The program offers low-cost family planning services with a sliding scale.  There is no fee for teens 18 and under. No parental consent is needed due to Title X regulations that provide services to minors without parental consent.

MTV has been criticized for their shows glamourizing teenage pregnancy, as some of the stars of the shows have had major brand deals. Notably, Farrah Abraham, who become involved in the adult film industry.

Despite the claims of idealizing teen pregnancy, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) stated that their research has shown that the national teenage birth rate has steadily been declining in the years since the series premiered.

The state Department of Health states that NJ is ranked fourth out of 50 in teen birth rate and 18 out of 50 in the teen pregnancy rate. However, NJ is ranked 5 out of 50 in the decline of the teen birth rate. 1 is the lowest. So despite the decline, NJ is slower than other states at reducing the number.

New Jersey offers three programs to combat teen pregnancy. First is the teen pregnancy prevention (TPP) program, which identifies the multiple risk factors for teen mothers and their children. Next is the NJ Prep program, or personal responsibility education program. It is a school- and community-based comprehensive sexual health education program. The state also offers NJ AEP, Title V abstinence education program.

“16 and Pregnant” was the original series that started the MTV franchise in 2009. The unscripted reality show featured a different pregnant teenager each episode. The series followed showed the teen moms throughout their pregnancies, the birth of their children and their first months of motherhood.

The idea behind “Teen Mom New Jersey” is to show teen moms from the same area and their interactions, much like the “Real Housewives” franchise. The other installments currently airing, “Teen Mom OG,” and “Teen Mom 2,” feature four to five girls located in different states. The only time the cast is typically together, is when they film their reunion special check-ups with Dr. Drew Pinsky.

“Teen Mom” originally aired in 2009 through 2012, before it was revived and rebranded in 2015 for the four original girls, hence the new “Teen Mom OG” tagline installment.

“Teen Mom 3” aired for one season in 2013, before its cancellation. Briana DeJesus, from the third installment, was added to the “Teen Mom 2” cast for the eighth season that premiered on July 17.

MTV has commercials that air during the series providing their viewers with websites to visit for more information. The websites include bedsider.org, itsyoursexlife.org and kff.org.

A millennial’s ode to complaining

If you know me well you know that I am a relentless complainer, especially when it’s hot outside. My dad is the first to remind me that air conditioning is a luxury, not a privilege. I know, I know – I’m lucky to have grown up not knowing air conditioning. The Victorian Era of Cape May must’ve been a hot and sweaty one.

Of course, there were the two weeks of summer when we rented a beach house without air conditioning. I said to my mom the other day, I don’t remember how I survived that when it was hot. Her reply? “Rachel, you complained. A lot!” I guess it must’ve been so hot I blocked it out of my memory.  Basically, anytime that I would get overheated, I would have a panic attack (as one does) and fret until I cooled down. Yeah, sounds like me.

Yeah, sounds like me. Coming from the girl who would crank the AC in her high school classes, without the teachers noticing. Granted all that did was run cold water through the vents…they found another way to make high school more miserable. I also spent four years of college complaining to anyone who would listen, that the classrooms were always set as if my grandma was in control of the thermostat – set to a minimum of a balmy 75 degrees.

Millennials complain about trivial, “first world problem” issues. But doesn’t everyone? We complain and get labeled as entitled.

I’m a millennial and I complain frequently. It’s kind of our thing…but people complain about millennials too.  Here’s a list of 6 complaints which we are “supposedly” sick of hearing. In my opinion…speak for yourself. Oh, and while I’m on my soapbox, I’d like to say that I’m not killing the napkin industry and I’m not buying so much avocado toast I won’t be able to afford a house…I just won’t be able to afford one anyway because of the economy.

 

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Oh look, I’m using napkins. Surprised?

Millennials complain about real issues too. Like low pay and difficulty finding a job in your field of study.

I think the reason millennials are pictured as “complaining” all the time has to do with the high expectations we have these days. My parents have two houses, so I expected I would have two houses. My Amazon Prime says my package will be here in two days, I expect it to be here in two days. But the expectations I grew up with have changed –especially because of the economy (I know, how many times am I going to repeat that phrase). The guy who said millennials buy too much avocado toast also says some people won’t even own a house in their lifetime. And maybe that will be my case. I just don’t know.

But I think that fact of potentially never owning a home is the exact right that I, as a millennial, has to complain. I want to be a homeowner (whether it is a house or a townhouse) and get the experience that my parents had. Get married, have a nice car, never have to worry about finances (well…).

Low pay is a serious issue, one that every generation has faced. Not all millennials work in high paying jobs. We also aren’t the ones who fucked up the economy (not the point, but just saying). Our families were (and still continue to be) impacted by the 2000s recession.

According to an article from Elite Daily, “Millennials face particularly high rates of unemployment and aren’t making as much money as their parents. That helps explain why roughly 32 percent of millennials are also living with their parents.”

It seems like the odds are stacked against us millennials. Finding a job in your field after college graduation can be tricky. Some people have student loans to pay off, so good luck with buying a house. And if you get a job, you’re lucky to make over minimum wage.

For those of us millennials who choose to work in our field knowing it’s a tough industry (hello journalism, I’m looking at you), we know making ends meet might require more than one steady job.

Yes I’m a millennial and I complain a lot, but I’d like to think I’m not entitled. I want to work and I enjoy the payoff of my hard work. And you know, not be a renter forever. I’m not above complaining and sometimes only focusing on my issues, but overall I want to succeed and be happy. Is that too much to ask?

College lite

Before I moved here, I came to visit in October for two weeks. One night while I was watching TV on the couch, I had a moment of panic. Did I really want to move here full time? Would I be lonely and isolated during the offseason? Would I miss my friends and family so much that I would spend too much time being homesick? The moment passed as quickly as it came, and I brushed it off as an unrelated, side effect of worrying about my impending wisdom tooth surgery

And as I biked to dinner a few nights ago to meet friends, I realized that in the few months I’ve been living here, that I have never once felt isolated or lonely. Don’t get me wrong, I miss my family, friends, and cats a ton, but I haven’t felt that homesick or panic again.

 

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Solo adventure outside of Cape May.

 

When you don’t go away to college and live at home, you miss out on an experience that is “supposedly” life-changing, according to some people. And sure, not having parents to supervise your every move and hover over you at all times might be nice, but I never had a problem with that.

But now I feel like I’m doing “college lite” without the actual schooling. I’m working full time as a front desk clerk at a motel and spending my off time reading, writing, binging on Netflix/TV and going to the beach. I have friends here, albeit not exactly in my age range (which is a fact, not an insult, because it doesn’t make a difference).

Is this where I saw myself after graduation? Yes, definitely. I was prepared from my summers here, what it would be like to be alone in a big house. And I like it and it has worked for me. Of course, just as I get used to it, I am moving out in the next few weeks – into a house with two really nice roommates. A must do, in order to stay through the rental season of summer and continue to live and work here.

 

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Backyard of the new place.

 

I’ve never claimed to be a typical millennial. I have often done things an unorthodox way.  And I’m about to make an even bigger change in my life than moving to New Jersey, bigger than starting a healthier lifestyle and bigger than leaving pretty much the life I’m used to living behind. I’m moving into a house with roommates, on 1.5 acres of land that is also home to two chickens, two goats, and a dog.

So needless to say, I have quite an interesting summer ahead of me and there will be a lot to write about.

I’m excited!

 

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Mom and her new goat friend aka my new roommate.

 

New blog, who dis?

So the title of this post might be a little cringeworthy, but it is a play on millennial saying, “new phone, who dis?”

I know some of my readers will be friends and family, who I appreciate following along.  But for those who are new followers, I wanted to let you know a little more about me, why I chose to be a writer and what this blog’s overarching theme and goal will be currently.

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Name tag arrived.

I graduated cum laude with a B.S. in communications & concentration in journalism from George Mason University. I have always been drawn to reading and writing, and always hoped to be a published author. I credit my middle school newspaper teacher (shout out to you, Jess), for getting me interested in becoming a journalist.

I knew from the moment that I saw my name as a byline, I was a goner. I was certain I wanted to head into the future of a journalist. Despite rumors of it being a dying industry, I persisted and took as many journalism courses and attended as many journalism conferences as I could.

Choosing the right path in college to get into the industry was important. I wanted to go to a big journalism school, but because of my anxiety prohibiting school attendance, I didn’t quite have the grades to be accepted. I ended up making a deal with GMU to go to our local community college for a semester, earn good grades, and then transfer over to GMU for my degree. Which is exactly what I did, and it was the perfect choice in the end. Which I can honestly say now since I’m done with school.

I’ve been writing for various publications (see about me) and blogging since 2009. My cat lifestyle blog is Sandpiper Cat Blog, which just celebrated its six anniversary.

Writing is my passion and despite that, it is what some call “a competitive field” (aka, lotsa luck finding writing, should’ve picked a more lucrative career), I believe that I have the drive and passion for making it work out in the long run.

I’ve always been about taking the unorthodox road in life. Starting in a job that isn’t exactly in your field is not unusual for a new college graduate. I wanted to work in the town that I love and live by the beach, so it was a small trade off for not starting out writing full time. Plus, being a freelance writer gives me more opportunities for different kinds of writing. And uh, figure out my “backup plan,” which so many people have asked me about…and by my backup plan, I mean what writing niche I plan to find.

This blog will be a place where I can share my millennial perspective, in my own words and learn to make my own way.

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Beach life is best.

 

That nouveau post

A fresh start in all senses of the word. A new town, new surroundings, new job and a new blog. But the town and surroundings aren’t really new. Not when you realize that I have been coming to Cape May, New Jersey every year since my birth. And I’m 23 years old.

That’s right folks, I’m a millennial. I’d like to say that I’m not your typical millennial because there are a lot of millennial things that I don’t do…mostly.

 

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Image courtesy of NewLine Cinema/Hyperactivate.com. 

 

According to a “How Millennial Are You?” Buzzfeed quiz (a very millennial news source), I’m only “kind of a millennial.” Apparently I “have some similarities with the generation that’s ruining the world,  and am only partially responsible for the downfall of society.” Yeah, sounds about right.

I moved to Cape May full-time in February 2017.  I work at the Victorian Motel as a front desk clerk. A 40 hour work week isn’t so bad when you can take a walk on the beach after you punch out. I’m currently learning how to be a millennial in a place that is a vacation destination for a different generation.

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Joy is my front desk companion.

Cape May is a hotspot for family vacationers; whether that’s baby boomers, Gen X (who tote millennials and Gen Z [that’s not very catchy] in tow). Somehow, I’m trying to fit in by living and working in CM full-time. And this blog is where I’m going to detail my experience. Which is somewhat unorthodox, like my path in life.

I previously blogged on CapeMayChick, about being a repeat vacationer. In August 2012, my family bought our dream home here in Cape May. A house we had been renting for the past few years. We couldn’t imagine being on a street anywhere else in town.

However, owning property here, as I’ve learned, does not make you a local. It strips you of your repeat vacationer status and replaces it with an odd term deemed “schlocal.” You’re not a full-time resident, but you do own property here; making you a combination of a shoobie (vacationer) and a local.

So I’m using my schlocal status to figure out how to survive being a millennial in a town without a Target (or one closer than an hour away) as well as figuring out how to earn a living and stay in a vacationer’s paradise. And somehow, I’m trying to make friends along the way.

I’ll be attempting to keep posts under 500 words, to cater to the millennial attention span.

So please join me here, at capemayrachel.com, to follow my adventure as a young millennial in Cape May.