When fast-fashion chain Forever 21 announced this month that they were rolling out a maternity line in five states—three of which have the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country—they were accused of what has become a common charge: glamorizing teen pregnancy. Like Juno, Jamie Lynn Spears, and Katherine Heigl's character in Knocked Up before them, Bristol Palin, 16 and Pregnant, and The Secret Life of the American Teenagerhave all faced criticism for promoting a deceptively attractive view of teenage motherhood. Have the baby, their implicit argument seems to go, and you can still look cute, have a career, and maybe even marry the father of your child.

Certainly reasonable arguments could be made that each of these pop culture icons have contributed to a softened, normalized view of teenage pregnancy. Kendall Jenner, the Kardashian half-sister and the face of Forever 21, is only 14. And the store's omnipresence in malls across the country, along with its trendy, low-priced fashions and frustratingly small sizes, certainly targets teenage girls. But as a 24-year-old, I confess that I still shop there, as do most of my friends—many of whom are going through their first (or second) pregnancies and love cheap maternity clothes that don't sacrifice style. Forever 21 already has a plus-size line as well as a "contemporary" line geared toward young professionals. Diversifying their offerings seems more like a good business strategy than a plot to convince U.S. teens to accessorize their pregnancies.

Is it true that young women see examples of young moms and decide they might want the same for their own lives? True, Bristol Palin has parlayed her high-profile pregnancy into tabloid covers, a lucrative job as spokeswoman for the Candie's Foundation, and even an acting gig on The Secret Life of the American Teenager, an ABC Family show slammed by The New York Times as "didactic and soulless cheerleading for anti-abortion sentiments." But surely girls can recognize the unusual circumstances of Bristol's life, as well as her own admission that being a teen mom "kind of sucks."

So what would the alternative look like? The recent depiction of a 15-year-old's decision to have an abortion on Friday Night Lights, a show about a West Texas football town, was praised for offering what New York magazine called "the best and most honest portrayal of the heartrending decision to end a teenage pregnancy that we've ever seen." The episode, titled "I Can't," seemed to offer the antidote to the seemingly endless stream of affirming portrayals of girls who chose to keep their babies and actually addressed the complexities that surround the decision. Implicit in the critical praise of the episode is that an honest confrontation of the difficult realities surrounding an unwanted pregnancy will result in an abortion. Unfortunately, the show portrayed the Christian perspective, embodied by the father's parents, as out of touch: the boy's mom encouraged him by explaining that Joseph and Mary, too, found themselves in a difficult situation. "[We] are not Mary and Joseph," he replied.

After the success of Juno, a 2007 movie whose main character chose to carry her unplanned pregnancy to term and offer the baby up for adoption, many theorized about the potential of "The Juno Effect": Positive portrayals of teenage pregnancies would result in an upswing of actual teenage pregnancies. But figures released earlier this year show that the rate actually decreased by 2 percent between 2007-2008, causing Salon's Broadsheet blog to declare "Death to 'the 'Juno' Efffect'." "Turns out, depicting teen parents may not glamorize them, so much as humanize them," writes Amy Benfer.

And this should be the goal: to show that, behind all the numbers and campaigns on both sides of the abortion debate are real girls who are facing very difficult realities. It seems inevitable that in this highly politicized age, every depiction of unplanned pregnancies will be dissected to reveal its agenda. But sometimes, a dress is just a dress, a garment to be worn by a woman or girl. One girl's story is just that—her story. The more stories we tell, the more the issue becomes one about people, about individuals making choices—sometimes choices we agree with, sometimes vehemently not. But that is what will move the conversation forward. When we address such an intensely personal issue like abortion as exactly that, we can portray the real, whole truth of an intensely important issue.

What do you think? How do pop culture portrayals of teen pregnancy shape behaviors? Are these examples dangerously glamorizing a much more difficult reality? Or are they humanizing the options available? How could we do a better job of discussing teen pregnancy?