Kat Von D, tattoo artist and founder of makeup brand Kat Von D Beauty, recently made a polarizing statement on social media.
Only a few days after her much-publicized wedding to Rafael Reyes of Prayers fame, Von D made an announcement concerning the couple’s decisions regarding her pregnancy. Von D, a longtime vegan, began her post by stating that she would forego a traditional hospital birth and instead opt for a “natural, drug-free homebirth” with the assistance of midwife and doula. Furthermore, Von D also expressed her intention to raise her child as a vegan.
I knew the minute we announced our pregnancy that we would be bombarded with unsolicited advice. Some good and some questionable – unsolicited none the less. I also was prepared for the backlash and criticism we would get if we decided to be open about our personal approach to our pregnancy. My own Father flipped out on me when I told him we decided to ditch our doctor and go with a midwife instead. If you don’t know what it’s like have people around you think you are ridiculous, try being openly vegan. And, if you don’t know what it’s like to have the entire world openly criticize, judge, throw uninformed opinions, and curse you – try being an openly pregnant vegan on Instagram, having a natural, drug-free home birth in water with a midwife and doula, who has the intention of raising a vegan child, without vaccinations. My point being: I already know what it’s like to make life choices that are not the same as the majority. So your negative comments are not going influence my choices – actual research and educating myself will – which i am diligently doing. This is my body. This is our child. And this is our pregnancy journey. Feel free to follow me on here if you like what I’m about – whether it’s tattooing, lipstick, Animal Rights, sobriety, feminism, ridiculous gothiness, black flower gardening, cats, or my adorable husband. But if you don’t dig a certain something about what I post, i kindly ask that you press the unfollow button and move the fuck on. So before anyone of you feel inspired to tell me how to do this, I would appreciate you keeping your unsolicited criticism to yourself. More importantly, for those who have amazing positive energy to send my way, I will gladly and graciously receive it with love! X
Both of these statements, which reflect decisions made by plenty of families today, were relatively uncontroversial. Toward the end of her post, however, Von D expressed her wish to raise her child “without vaccinations.” This portion of her announcement has sparked controversy across the internet, even garnering the attention of other well-known names in beauty and fashion.
Science is awesome. Pseudo-science is not, fear-mongering based on shoddy studies is not. Fans encouraging you to read & research further isn't hate, by the by, especially when they're linking to said research! https://t.co/WIuVp6VYNL
— Temptalia (@temptalia) June 8, 2018
Beauty blogger Christine Mielke of Temptalia released a series of tweets speaking on her own stance on the issue, though it must be noted that she never once mentioned Von D by name. Mielke made a point of sharing a link to the Gates Foundation vaccination initiative. She wrote: “Fans encouraging you to read & research further isn’t hate, by the by, especially they’re linking to said research!”
Entire Reddit forums have sprung up wherein fans have discussed Von D’s decision. On Von D’s original Instagram post alone, there are around 78,000 comments.
Plenty of people seem to be against the anti-vaxxer sentiment of Von D’s post, but alarmingly, there also seem to be a fair number who fully support it.
There has been a notable anti-vaccination movement gaining traction within the United States. An article by Vox recounts how, since the invention of vaccines over 200 years ago, there has been a small but ever-present group of anti-vaxxers. The article traces the beginnings of the modern movement as we know it to the infamously debunked report in the 1990s by Andrew Wakefield, “a discredited physician-researcher,” which attempted to show a connection between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism.
Despite Wakefield’s study having long since been disproved, with evidence even pointing to manipulation of its results, ill-founded claims such as Wakefield’s have stoked fear in a growing number of parents. It does not help that many celebrities, such as Jenny McCarthy, have attempted to give credence to these conspiracies; only further pushing this pseudo-scientific agenda into the public eye.
The fact of the matter is that pushing such an agenda can have lasting and harmful consequences. As stated by Racked, the decision to not “immunize children can have effects outside the small circle of one’s immediate family.” Not only does one put one’s own children at risk, but not vaccinating one’s child also endangers the health of others.
One particular example of this risk would be exposing those who have no choice but to forego immunizations, such as individuals with conditions which compromise their immune systems, to harmful diseases. Many of these people must rely on the phenomenon of herd immunity (simply put, since so many people are vaccinated, few carry dangerous diseases) and according to Peter Hotez, a pediatrician at the Baylor College of Medicine, “Even a modest decrease [in vaccine coverage] rates could be enough to cause future outbreaks.”
This being said, the rationale behind the controversy surrounding Kat Von D’s statement makes sense. With more and more people on public platforms supporting what is potentially a harmful idea, it is perhaps necessary to further educate the public.
Featured Image via Flickr/Pan American Health Organization PAHO