Candies, Bristol Palin and Teen Pregnancy: This Ish Is Just Messed Up
Candies, as you probably know, is a shoe company. Candies, however, also has a charity known as the Candies Foundation, “a non-profit organization that works to shape the way youth in America think about teen pregnancy and parenthood. We are an operating foundation rather than a grant-making foundation. The foundation develops and runs communication campaigns to raise awareness about, and motivate teens to prevent, teen pregnancy.”
Hey, that sounds pretty good, right? A corporation doing what they can to help prevent teen pregnancy! And with how much ad exposure and celebrity spokesmanship Candies has, odds are they are able to donate a ton of money to charity, right?
Well, in 2009, they donated $35,000 to anti-pregnancy initiaves! That’s REALLY GOOD, right?
Um…well, consider that the foundation claimed $2,217,768.00 in assets that year.
Okay, well, you can’t donate EVERYTHING to charity, right? Surely there were operating costs!
Yes. Costs like paying spokeswoman Bristol Palin $262,500.
Oooooh! This looks like a chance to do some math!
35,000 divided by 2,217,768 = .01578
262,500 divided by 2,217,768 = .11836
35,000 divided by 262,500 = .133333333
So that means:
2% WENT TOWARDS ACTUAL GROUPS TRYING TO LOWER TEEN PREGNANCY RATES.
12% HOWEVER, WENT TO PAY BRISTOL PALIN FOR HER SPOKESMANSHIP.
CANDIES FOUNDATION DONATIONS ARE 13% OF WHAT THEY PAID BRISTOL PALIN.
Now, look, nothing against Bristol Palin. As a teen mother she’s extremely privileged (well-off family, famous mother, a minor celebrity in her own right) but she seems to recognize that her experience as a teen mom is DEFINITELY not the norm. And if people are willing to pay her over $200,000 to tell teenage girls “Don’t get pregnant,” I’m not going to fault her for accepting.
The message of the foundation about teen pregnancy prevention has generated more than ONE BILLION media impressions –- tremendous reach for any teen pregnancy prevention campaign. We know that Ms. Palin’s work has had a positive effect on teens. In a recent independent national survey of 1,000 teens that compared a Bristol Palin PSA with those of another national teen pregnancy organization that use non-famous teens, more than twice as many teens (57% vs. 27%) said Bristol’s PSA “got my attention”, three times as many (41% vs. 11%) said it was “powerful”, and more than twice as many (38% vs. 16%) said it was “memorable”.
Bristol Palin is one of dozens of celebrities who has worked with the foundation. She has been a courageous and powerful partner to the foundation as we attempt to discourage teen pregnancy.
Okay, that’s great. But the problem is that just because teens are paying attention and saying something is “powerful” and “memorable” DOESN’T MEAN IT’S CHANGING ANYTHING. And with shows like “Teen Mom” bringing in millions of viewers every week, it’s safe to say that teens are aware of teen pregnancy and the effects it can have on their life.
So really, Candies, what ARE you doing to help? Especially considering that your whole campaign is basically “Don’t have sex.” Which, okay, abstinence is definitely something I believe should be brought up while talking about sex and sex education, but research has shown that abstinence only sex education doesn’t work, especially when compared to more comprehensive programs. And considering the “campaigns” on the Candies Foundation website are pretty much pure scare tactics for teens (BABIES WILL COST YOU MONEY! BABIES WILL RUIN YOUR LIFE! SEX IS BAD!), it’s not helping to inform teens. Add to that the fact that entire program is aimed at young women, rather than also telling young men “Hey, guys? Don’t pressure girls into sex,” or “Hey guys, wait, okay?” Which you think would help DOUBLE the effectiveness of their campaign since it takes two to make a baby.
I guess what I have to say here is this: Candies seems more focused on drawing attention to themselves than on drawing attention to, and helping to solve, the issue of teen pregnancy in the US. And that teenagers deserve better than “Here’s a picture of Bristol Palin, don’t let your boyfriend stick it in you.”