Just about everyone can agree that teenage pregnancy rates around that world are distressingly high. Believe it or not, though, American numbers for this alarming trend have actually been steadily declining for over 60 years. The highest incidence of teens getting pregnant actually took place in the 1950s, long before anyone even considered the idea of teaching about contraceptives in the classroom.
Despite these promising numbers, so long as any young teens continue to get pregnant, society at large will understandably believe there’s still a problem. Part of the issue is definitely the media, which may not necessarily glorify teen pregnancy, but nonetheless gives it a glamorous spotlight as something that isn’t really all that bad. Of course, they cut out any scenes about the young mothers dropping out of school, working minimum wage jobs, and desperately relying on their families for support, all while their friends are still in math class.
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On top of questionable shows like 16 and Pregnant or any of its spinoffs, there’s also the fact quite a few major celebrities happened to have children at extremely young ages. In fairness to these women, it isn’t our intention to judge them at all, as every one had their own story and reason for having a baby at such a young age. Whatever the explanation, they had babies while still teens and later became famous, suggesting other young girls out there could probably do the same. Keep reading to learn about 15 celebrities who got pregnant before they even made it to prom.
ASIA NITOLLANO HAD A BABY DOLL BEFORE BECOMING A PUSSYCAT DOLLThanks to the way she handled her big opportunity, there’s a good chance Asia Nitollano is the least famous name on this list. However, fans of The Pussycat Dolls surely remember her as the standout star and winner of The Search for the Next Doll, a short-lived reality series on The CW looking to crown the next member of the hit pop act. Essentially a blend of America’s Top Model and American Idol, the show wasn’t that special unless one happened to be a fan of the group, but Nitollano certainly was, which is how she went on to win the whole thing.
Before the show even began, though, Nitollano already had an infant daughter, who she gave birth to at the young age of 17. Nitollano’s daughter often played a big part in her story, as she regular claimed her child was her inspiration.
However, almost immediately after winning, Nitollano decided to go solo and quit the Dolls, hence her current obscurity.
OPRAH WINFREY HAS A SHOCKING STORYGradually climbing up from nothingness to become the most successful daytime talk show host in history, no celebrity has a story quite like Oprah Winfrey. Unfortunately, it’s a tale that begins with constant tragedies, as Oprah would later detail harrowing abuse suffered at the hands of multiple family members from a very young age.
When everyone ignored her accusations, Oprah ran away from home, a move that very soon lead to her pregnancy at the age of 14 when she was still on her own.
Under these circumstances, it may well have been impossible for Oprah to raise a child and have the career she did, but it’s not like the fact she immediately lost the baby after giving birth to him prematurely was a better outcome. On the bright side, after all these hardships, Oprah left her mother’s household for good to live with her father, at which point her life started turning around, gradually making her the icon she is today.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG LAUGHED HER WAY THROUGH TEEN PREGNANCYAwarded for her skills as an actress, comedian, and talk show host, amongst half a dozen other things, Whoopi Goldberg is one of only 12 performers in Hollywood to have achieved the fabled EGOT. During a brief period in the early ’90s, she was also one of the highest paid actresses in history for her starring role in the Sister Act movies. Before turning into a massive star, though, Goldberg had been living the relatively normal family life for almost a full decade, beginning when she got married at the young age of 17.
Granted, it was that kind of situation where they “had to get married,” since Goldberg was already pregnant with her daughter when she and her first husband got hitched.
Goldberg’s acting career didn’t begin for another 9 years after her daughter’s birth, at which point she had also divorced her husband. Goldberg’s daughter, Alex Martin, would remain close with her mother despite the split, even appearing in a few of her films.
ANNA NICOLE SMITH WAS CONTROVERSIAL FROM THE STARTAnyone who comes to fame as a repeat Playboy centerfold is bound to draw controversy wherever they attempt to take their career. Anna Nicole Smith nonetheless was a lightning rod of attention throughout her entire, short, tumultuous life, even before she first bared it all for Hugh Hefner’s famous magazine. The craziness began when she dropped out of high school at 14, soon entering a whirlwind relationship with her first husband, Billy Wayne Smith.
The relationship soon lead to the birth of Anna’s first child, Daniel, who was born barely two months after her 18th birthday.
Though her marriage to Smith soon fell apart, followed by an even more controversial coupling to octogenarian billionaire J. Howard Marshall, if nothing else, Daniel remained by her side to the bitter end. Sadly, that time came young for both of them and not far apart, with Daniel dying at 18 and Nicole following him into the hereafter months later when she was 39, both due to overdoses.
LORETTA LYNN STOOD BY HER MAN’S SIX BABIESTerms like “Coal Miner’s Daughter” evoke a certain old fashioned lifestyle entirely fitting to the story of legendary country singer-songwriter Loretta Lynn. Having sold over 45 million albums, Lynn is one of the preeminent stars of her genre and has been for decades. Amazingly, before Lynn had her first hit, and just after most girls in the modern era would be entering high school, Loretta married 21-year-old Oliver Lynn when she was only 15.
Within months, they had their first child, and three more would follow before Loretta was even 20 years old.
By her climb up the country music charts began, the couple had two more children, twins, meaning a total of six mouths to feed with only a guitar on her back to support it all. Despite a highly tumultuous relationship, the Lynn’s stuck together until Oliver’s death at age 70, at which point Loretta had already cemented herself as an icon. She still records to this day, though health concerns are starting to slow her down.
MAYA ANGELOU KNOWS WHY THE PREGNANT TEEN SINGSOne of the most respected poets in modern history, Maya Angelou is the rare celebrity who actually used her young pregnancy in a manner that both bolstered her career and ultimately presented a positive message. Three weeks after she graduated high school at the age of 17, Angelou gave birth to her son Clyde, who now goes by the name Guy Johnson as he embarks on his own writing career.
At the time, Angelou hid her pregnancy from her family until after she graduated, not wanting to be forced to drop out because of it.
Obviously, Johnson was born long before Angelou had any repute as an author herself, but he played a key role in much of her early, autobiographical works, especially her landmark debut “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” which details his birth. Later books would document their continued journey together, showing that having a son at such a young age didn’t slow down Angelou’s drive to write about the world.
ROSEANNE BARR PUT HER CHILD UP FOR ADOPTIONAn opinionated and outspoken voice of the blue-collar Roseanne Barr never holds her tongue about any subject. Though it rarely comes up, this openness includes vibrant stories about her shocking teenage years, when a car accident at age 16 was alleged to dramatically change her personality forever. Apparently, the car’s hood ornament hit her directly into the head, causing severe injuries to her brain. Roseanne’s injuries were so severe she had to be institutionalized at Ohio State Hospital for several months, and either while still in the clinic or immediately after her release, she became pregnant through unclear, yet highly questionable, means.
Whatever the case, she had the baby while still undergoing treatment, essentially forcing her to give the child up for adoption.
Believe it or not, the story almost has a happy ending despite how tragic it all sounds, as Roseanne and her daughter reunited years later after the comedian had become a massive television star. The two have remained close since then and even began working together.
NAOMI JUDD SANG HER WAY OUT OF TEEN PREGNANCYIn the very rare case when a teenage pregnancy was directly responsible for a woman becoming a star (and MTV didn’t even have anything to do with it), it’s possible no one would know who Naomi Judd was were it not for her daughter, Wynona. Not that Naomi’s own talents don’t have anything to do with the equation, as the two just happened to make up one of country music’s most successful duos in history, The Judds. Throughout the 1980s, the mother-daughter pair scored 14 hits on the country charts, only breaking up when health concerns forced Naomi out of the spotlight.
Their story all began when Naomi was only 18 years old and she gave birth shortly after Wynona’s father abandoned them.
Naomi soon married a different man and had a second child in her early 20s, actress Ashley Judd, prior to her country career with her first daughter taking off.
SOLANGE KNOWLES REGRETS HAVING A CHILD SO YOUNGBeing the younger sister of Beyoncé, of all the women on this list, Solange Knowles probably had the least to worry about when she became pregnant in her teenage years. No matter how tough things got, she’d always have her sister’s fame and fortune to fall back on, not to mention a pretty solid solo career of her own. Granted, Solange’s own hits mostly came after her first, surprisingly young marriage at 17.
Shortly after tying the knot, she became pregnant at 18, and while that might have made for an awkward prom for most girls, Solange had no problem dancing through her video to Destiny’s Child’s “Soldier” video.
Despite wearing this brave face, Solange and her husband divorced three short years after the baby was born, which may have inspired her later statement that she regretted having a child at such a young age.
PAIGE GRAPPLED WITH A SUDDEN LOST BABYCalling herself the “Anti-Diva” from when her time in the WWE Universe began, Paige has always been a woman to welcome controversy into her life. Little did she know, this trend began before she was even born, when her mother Sweet Saraya, also a wrestler, once got in the ring while seven months pregnant with the future WWE Diva’s Champion. Somehow, Paige survived and turned into a powerful grappler herself, first getting in the ring at 16. History nearly looked to repeat itself when Paige herself got pregnant at the age of 18, but before she began showing in any way, the would-be birth unfortunately ended in a miscarriage. It gets worse from there, as doctors later told Paige future health complications may mean she can never have children of her own. Even so, the fact remains she was pregnant while a teenager, although it didn’t last to the end.
BRISTOL PALIN COULD SEE A BABY FROM HER DREAM HOUSEThere’s no such thing as a teenage pregnancy that doesn’t attract some level of controversy, yet Bristol Palin’s may be the most talked about story of all. The daughter of former VP candidate Sarah Palin, Bristol getting pregnant while unmarried and only 18 seemed to go against everything the Republican Party allegedly stood for. To try and get around this fact, Bristol turned into a minor media celebrity in her own right, hitting the talk show circuit to bafflingly promote abstinence only education, while at the same time serving as a living example that it didn’t work.
Throughout it all, Bristol also repeatedly promised that her wedding to the child’s father was eminent, though that also turned out to be a fantasy. She did marry another man roughly six years later, but not until after they had their own child out of wedlock as well.
At least she wasn’t a teenager any more, so this time around, only her fellow Republicans had any problem with it.
KEISHA CASTLE-HUGHES’S PREGNANCY INSPIRED DIVINE CONTROVERSYAt the onset of Keisha Castle-Hughes’s career, the one thing critics couldn’t stop talking about was her youth. When she was only 12 years old, Castle-Hughes starred in the film Whale Rider, giving a performance that would make her the youngest person nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress at the time. Her next big role was playing Mary in the Biblical drama The Nativity Story, which garnered a great deal of controversy considering she was 16, unmarried, and pregnant during the film’s promotion. It would be an exaggeration to say the negative publicity killed her career, but it’s worth noting Castle-Hughes would never appear in a major starring role again.
She has, however, attempted to keep her acting career going in whatever manner possible, leading to recurring roles on popular TV shows The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.
Castle-Hughes also cites familial support as helping her embrace motherhood from a young age, seeming to have few regrets about the idea.
JAMIE LYNN SPEARS TEACHES TEEN PREGNANCY 101Attempting to follow in the footsteps of her pop megastar sister Britney, Jamie Lynn Spears began appearing on Nickelodeon comedy shows from a very young age. After making her film debut in Britney’s much maligned Crossroads, Jamie Lynn became a regular cast member on All That when she was only 11. A few short years later, she got her own show, Zoey 101, which went on to be one of the most popular series on the children’s network.
It all came to a sudden end when Jamie Lynn suddenly became pregnant at age 16, destroying her “good-girl” image, along with the family friend of Nickelodeon in general.
The show finished it’s final season, but Jamie Lynn’s career was essentially over from that point on, leaving the business to focus on her new family. She later attempted a country music career, but came nowhere near her earlier fame, let alone her sister’s.
ARETHA FRANKLIN MOVED PAST HER TEEN PREGNANCY TO EARN RESPECTNow treated like a queen deserving more “Respect” than any other music legend, Aretha Franklin’s life actually began in what fellow soul singer Ray Charles allegedly once described as a “s*x circus.” Apparently, the iconic R&B and gospel singer’s pastor father used his congregation as a front for wild parties that Franklin herself began to find alluring at the shockingly young age of 12.
The full details get a little bit sketchy from there, but what is known for sure is that Aretha had her first child at 15, followed by another baby two years later.
Wild rumors of the era tried suggesting shocking things about the children’s parentage, though it later turned out both were fathered by boys she met in school. Luckily, despite the questionable behind-the-scenes business, Franklin’s family remained very close through her young pregnancies, and her grandmother would watch after the kids as she pursued her landmark career.
FANTASIA BARRINO BECAME AN IDOL DESPITE HER TEEN PREGNANCYIn 2004, Fantasia Barrino was living the typical life for a girl who had a baby when she was 16. She had already dropped out of school and was relying on her family to get by, all the while hoping one day she could somehow overcome the hardship and becoming a music sensation. Telling this story on American Idol instantly made Barrino millions of fans, and the support grew even stronger when they heard her sing. Eventually, Barrino won the 2004 season by receiving the most votes in the show’s history up to that point, and has continued to enjoy a successful singing and acting career since then. In 2010, she won her first Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for the song “Bittersweet,” and nearly 3 million records sold cement her as one of the most popular Idols in history. Clearly, Barrino could overcome her teen pregnancy, but most pregnant teens aren’t going to be lucky enough to win American Idol.