Q+A with Teen Mom NYC: Advocate and Inspiration

As young girls starting to explore our sexuality, we all knew we could get pregnant — and maybe we convinced ourselves once or twice that we actually were. (Which was probably more about the drama than any real pregnancy scare.) But, in real life, that could never happen to us. Not me. No way.

But what if it did? What if — a year, a month, after you started having (really bad) sex — you got pregnant. What if everything you'd been warned about actually happened?

Comb back through your memory and imagine getting pregnant with that person. That's an unimaginable thought for a lot of us — and yet it might be your story.

It was certainly Gloria Malone's story.

But instead of letting that experience dictate the rest of her life — her relationship, her education, her happiness — she took the reigns, leading herself (and now leading others) in an admirable direction.

Meet Gloria, the young woman behind Teen Mom NYC:

1. So your situation is a little different than the 20-something pregnancy, given that you got pregnant at 15 years old. Tell us a little bit about that experience, through high school and then college.

I got pregnant the summer before my sophomore year of high school, so I spent my entire sophomore year of high school pregnant. People instantly treated me different when they found out I was pregnant — teachers, guidance counselors, ‘friends’, and family. In a strange way my pregnancy made me delve deeper into my studies and I graduated high school with Honors and went on to the local community college. After life got in the way, I moved to NYC, took about a year off, and finally I’m in my senior year of college! WoooHOO!!

2. How did you know you had to leave your daughter's father?

Our relationship went from ‘healthy’ to progressively abusive. When I realize that I started believing his emotionally abusive words and had a very tense physical altercation, I knew I had to get out.

3. And so you packed up and moved from Florida to NYC. What was that transition like?

I used to live in NYC so the transition wasn’t too tough — but it was tough! LOL. I had a lot of emotional healing to do, the weather transition from Orlando to NYC’s winter to deal with (we moved in November), and I had to be strong in every way for my daughter who was dealing with much more than I was.

4. You were a leader of the backlash to the recent controversial ads against teen pregnancy in NYC — being featured in The New York Times, CNN, and a variety of prestigious news outlets. Can you sum up your position for readers unaware of the issue?

Not a leader, just one of many. NYC’s Human Resources Administration released a highly controversial and offensive ad campaign featuring crying babies saying horrible things to their teenage mothers.

“Honestly mom chances are he won't stay with you, then what happens to me?”, “I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen”, and several other unsettling things. But the fiasco didn’t stop there. They also had a highly troublesome texting game, which would be a back and forth with a depressed, isolated, and scared teenager, and you are essentially supposed to tell her that her life is over.

To put it mildly, I was pissed and confused.

Of all the things NYC could have done to help reduce teenage pregnancy, they choose this hurtful, shameful, bully-like tactic, which cited no sources for their information and cost upwards of half a million dollars. Don’t tell me I’m a crappy mother just because I’m a teen mom. Where were you when I need accurate info. about safe sex?

5. How do you think teen pregnancy should be addressed?

Pregnant and parenting teens should receive the same respect all pregnant people get, plus more. We are teens! We have little to no information about the services and education we need  — so help us get that information. Stop kicking pregnant females out of school; stop the shame and stereotypes through public service campaigns that perpetuate ignorance and hate. Give support.

Teenage pregnancy prevention needs to be addressed with accurate and evidence-based comprehensive Sex Ed and constant conversations between parents and their children. As well as access to birth control for everyone.

6. Tell us about the #NoTeenShame champaign.

#NoTeenShame is a response to The Candies Foundation’s ads which perpetuate shame while providing no real info. for teens on how to not experience an unintended pregnancy. As a team we want to meet with Candies' CEO Neil Cole, but it’s been 30 days+ since out petition and he refuses to respond to us.

Our goal (as former teenage mothers) is to meet with Candies CEO and possibly work with Candies to develop ads that we feel would have helped us avoid an unintended pregnancy, while not disrespecting pregnant and parenting teens.

7. Now that you're not a teen mom and you can look back with perspective, what's been the biggest obstacle in your journey?

Honestly my lack of confidence. I lacked confidence before becoming pregnant and after becoming pregnant — that combined with all of the hate, disrespect, and degrading I experienced made me feel like my life was over. Then after having my daughter, the hurtful attitudes from others only got worse  — making me doubt myself more and more.

8. And what's been the biggest advantage? Why do you love being an early mama?

My age and “screw you” attitude. After I had my daughter, I had to remind myself who I was — confidence or not. I never cared what people thought about me and I shouldn’t start now.

Because of these two things, my daughter gets to see and experience all my successes with me. She remembers my high school graduation, seeing me on TV, having people refer to me as Teen Mom NYC, and loves saying that her mom goes to college!

9. Are you dating anyone? What's that part of your life been like, as a young single mom?

Funny you should ask — I just wrote a post about trying to ignore my feelings of possibly being ready to date! LOL. No, I’m not dating and haven’t since separating from my daughter’s father. Being in a relationship from age 14 to 20 and having it end in a super hostile way has a way of making you not want to date for a while.

10. What would you say to all the pregnant teens out there?

You are amazing! Keep and follow through on all your goals and dreams. Fears, like dreams, need to be fed to stay alive.

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Read more from Gloria at Teen Mom NYC.