As the news broke on Tuesday that 16-year-old “Zoey 101″ star Jamie Lynn Spears was pregnant , reaction from fans and celebrities ran the gamut from messages of support and love to condemnation for what some saw as an irresponsible act by another member of the Spears clan.
“This is like one train wreck after another,” J from New York wrote in You Tell Us. “This is why Britney should have set a good example for her sister.”
“I am shocked. I can’t believe she’s pregnant and 16,” said Jaimi, 18, from Milwaukee. “While she is young, she knows she made a mistake and is willing to accept her consequences. I support her decision to keep her baby. … Let’s just hope she learns from her sister’s mistakes.”
The assessment from New York’s Hatick was even more blunt: “She’s just another girl who thinks she’s invincible.”
On the red carpet of her CD-release party Tuesday night, Mary J. Blige, no stranger to drama in her personal life, had some supportive words for Spears. “Stay strong, baby girl,” Blige said. “If that’s her choice [to keep the baby], then congratulations. Hope she’s responsible, and I hope she understands what that brings. … You have to change your lifestyle up, so [your children] can look at you as an example. It’s all about Mommy being an example, Jamie. That’s what it’s about.”
John Legend, who was also at Blige’s event, said he could relate to the situation. “My sister had a baby when she was young, so I know what it’s like, and … it’s going to be difficult, so I hope her family supports her and takes care of her,” he said. “It’s hard for a young mother.”
Jamie Lynn also had sympathy from some fans. “A part of me thinks it’s sad,” wrote Tina, 20, from Baltimore. “It could have happened to me when I was 16, but it didn’t — it happened to me when I was 17. I am now 20 and a single mother, but I am doing a good job at taking care of my baby boy. And if I can do it, Jamie Lynn can do it too. And she has the support of her family, so she’s going to be OK.”
Lauren, an 18-year-old from Oxford, Pennsylvania, was also optimistic about Jamie Lynn’s future. “I think people should stop judging so much,” she wrote. “She’s pregnant — her life isn’t over. If it happens to some other teen girl, it’s OK. [Just] because she’s a celebrity and she is … Britney’s little sister doesn’t mean she is any different and should be judged. I wish her and her boyfriend the best of luck!”
Over on the fan site Jamie-Spears.com, there was also solid support for the teen star. “She has the financial means to support the baby, which is one of the biggest problems facing teen parents,” Amatatomba wrote on the site’s boards. “Teen parents can be parents just as well as older parents, if not better in some ways, but people tend to think all teen parents are … trash, irresponsible and selfish. If she was irresponsible, she’d be having an abortion, not keeping the baby. I support her all the way. She’ll make a good mom.”
But some older MTV readers reacted with anger to the news. One mother, Cynthia, 40, from Newton, Connecticut, wrote in a You Tell Us post that she hopes Nickelodeon will pull “Zoey 101″ from the air immediately. “I will not let my children watch the show any longer,” she said. “How else can one make a statement about this disgusting lack of values? Shame on her, and shame on her mom.”
And Christina, 25, a teacher from Orlando, Florida, said the message Spears has sent to impressionable teens is not a good one. “I’m sorry she made this decision to become sexually active at such a young age,” she said. “I teach seventh grade, and unfortunately we have a young girl who may currently be pregnant. As someone who is in the limelight on a teen-focused channel such as Nickelodeon, Jamie Lynn is a role model whether she likes it or not. My fear is that young girls will start to see this as OK, and the family structure in the U.S. will deteriorate further than it already has. Miss Spears has money to support herself and a baby at the age of 16. Most girls who get themselves into this trouble do not have the same resources.”
If nothing else, the news just seemed to confuse some young fans, who weren’t sure what to make of the fact that Spears would be a mother before she can legally vote with a boyfriend, Casey Aldridge, whom she reportedly broke up with earlier this year. “I think that she’s too young to be having a child when she’s one herself, but everything happens for a reason,” wrote Neshia, 20, of Fort Lauderdale.
James, 14, of Amelia, Ohio, had a harsher assessment, though. “I think it was very irresponsible for Jamie to get pregnant at 16,” he wrote. “She seems way too nice and perfect to do that!”
Do you think Jamie Lynn is setting a poor example for her fans? Has she damaged her career? Share your thoughts below.