Sixteen and an Olympian

By , 17, Staff Writer
August 23, 2012

It used to be that when I heard the age 16 the first thing that popped into my mind was MTV’s 16 and Pregnant. Now when I hear the age 16, my mind jumps to 16-year-old gold medalists—Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney.

These two young women were a part of the “Fab Five”—the U.S. women’s gymnastics team for the 2012 London Olympics. They have trainers, economic resources, parents and supporters constantly rooting for them. They have gotten the “gold medal treatment” to make sure that they won at this past Olympics.

Although Douglas and Maroney are 16, their lives are very different from the girls who appear on 16 and Pregnant. I doubt the girls on 16 and Pregnant got the kind of support these Olympians got, and the girls on the show most likely didn’t have comprehensive sex ed.

In our society, there is a stigma that comes with being a teen mom. They are judged, stereotyped and shamed. Being a teen mom isn’t like being a gymnast on the balance beam, where you can fall and the people around you encourage you to get up and try again. It is not that easy for teen moms to just pick up everything and try again especially if they don’t have people rooting for them.

Can you imagine if every teen could be given the “gold medal treatment?” They would be supported in following their dreams and educated about sexuality. They would be able to enjoy their teen years and set goals for themselves. And who knows maybe even win a gold medal themselves.

Photo by Martin Schoeller/TIME

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