Bristol Sheeran Marie Palin (born October 18, 1990) is the second child and eldest daughter of the 11th Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd. After Bristol became a teenage single parent, she began to publicly advocate sexual abstinence for unmarried teens, is now a paid speaker on the subject of teen pregnancy and joined the Fall 2010 season of Dancing with the Stars .
Family background and education
Bristol Palin was born and raised in Wasilla, Alaska. Sarah has explained that her daughter's name comes from the Bristol Inn where she had been employed; Bristol, Connecticut, the headquarters city of ESPN, where she had hoped to work as a sportscaster; and the Bristol Bay region of Alaska, where Bristol's father, Todd, grew up.
Starting in 2005 Bristol attended Juneau-Douglas High School and began dating Levi Johnston. In 2008 she moved to Anchorage to live with her aunt and uncle and attend West Anchorage High School. She returned to Wasilla and graduated from Wasilla High School in May 2009.
When Sarah Palin was chosen as John McCain's vice presidential running mate, in late August 2008, his advisers already knew of Bristol's pregnancy, which they believed would be a political liability. On September 1, the opening day of the 2008 Republican National Convention, it was publicly announced that Palin was pregnant and engaged to Johnston, the father of her unborn child.Palin's entire family, along with Johnston, appeared at the convention.Speaking about Palin's pregnancy, political commentator Michelle Malkin was quoted as saying, "One ticket sees this as a blessing. The other sees it as a curse. Could the core differences between the two be any starker?" Several days later, it was reported that Britney Spears's sister, teen mother Jamie Lynn Spears, had sent her burp cloths as a gift.Comparisons between the two cases were made.
McCain's advisers reportedly thought a wedding between Johnston and Palin would boost the waning popularity of the McCain-Palin ticket. Johnston denied claims that he was being pressured into a shotgun wedding, stating, "We were planning on getting married a long time ago with or without the kid. That was the plan from the start."
Palin and Johnston's son, Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston, was born on December 27, 2008. Bristol denied claims that her mother's pro life views influenced her decision to give birth to and raise Tripp, stating, "It doesn't matter what my mom's views are on it. It was my decision." The couple broke off their engagement in March 2009.
In November 2009, a custody and child support case involving Johnston and Palin was filed in a local Alaska court. Palin asked the court to use pseudonyms for herself and Johnston to keep the normally public proceedings private, arguing that the media attention would not be good for the child. Johnston argued for open proceedings, saying he just wanted the case to be decided on the merits, and that he did "not feel protected against Sarah Palin in a closed proceeding.". In December 2009, on Tripp's first birthday, the judge sided with Johnston, and it was publicly announced that the pair had been battling for legal custody. Palin, who wished to win full custody rights and child support consistent with Johnston's income, stated that Johnston had "exercised sporadic visitation rights" and "wants the rights for his own self-promotion". Johnston sought shared custody and lower child support payments, but in February 2010 a judge ruled that Johnston had to pay back child support, with a hearing set to determine the amount of ongoing support payments.
That month, Palin and her son began living in a condo she had purchased in Anchorage, where she was working at a dermatologist's office and taking business courses at a community college. In July 2010, Palin and Johnston announced that they had reunited and were again engaged, but less than three weeks later, they ended their second engagement. In August 2010 she moved out of the condo and returned to her parents' house, and the couple reached an agreement giving primary custody to Palin and visitation rights and child support responsibility to Johnston.
In May 2009, Palin worked with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and the Candie's Foundation to inform young people about the negative consequences of teenage pregnancy. Bill Albert, the Campaign's spokesman, said that working with Palin made sense, because "she's had the highest-profile teen pregnancy of the year." Several interviews and pictorials for similar organizations followed. That same month, Palin was named a Teen Abstinence Ambassador for the Candie’s Foundation,a teen pregnancy prevention organization. Her duties as a paid spokeswoman involved attending town hall meetings and giving interviews on morning talk shows. At her appearance on Good Morning America, she stated, "Regardless of what I did personally, abstinence is the only 100% foolproof way you can prevent pregnancy."Before Palin became an abstinence spokeswoman, she told Fox News that abstinence is "not realistic at all." Several weeks later, she would state that her words were "taken out of context".
Her role as a spokesperson has been controversial. Bonnie Fuller, former editor in chief of YM, has questioned whether the net effect of Palin's presentations has been to glamorize or discourage teen pregnancy based on the visual imagery.On an episode of The Colbert Report, Meghan McCain stated her support for sex education and criticized Palin's sexual abstinence campaign, saying it was "not realistic for this generation".
Palin works on the speakers' circuit asking between $15,000 and $30,000 for each appearance. She has signed with Single Source Speakers and is listed on their website as available for conferences, fundraisers, special events and holidays, as well as women's, youth, abstinence and "pro-life" programs.
In September 2009, Bristol Palin formed BSMP, a lobbying, public relations and political consulting services firm. While the initial focus will be working with Candie's Foundation, BSMP plans to expand to work with additional clients.
Palin made a guest appearance as herself on the July 5, 2010 episode of ABC Family's teenage drama, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, a series which focuses on a family dealing with a 15-year-old's unexpected pregnancy. Palin portrayed a friend of the main character who is a student in the summer music program for teen mothers that they both are attending. She filmed the scenes in March 2010 while visiting her mother in Los Angeles, California. "I am not acting. I like doing speaking engagements and stuff like that," she told E!. "I don't think I'll be doing any more acting in the future."
Palin joined the Fall 2010 season of Dancing with the Stars. Her partner is professional Mark Ballas, who is a two time champion on the show, having won with Kristi Yamaguchi, in season 6, and with Shawn Johnson in season 8. Palin's first dance was a cha-cha to "Mama Told Me Not to Come" by Three Dog Night. Due to her dancing rehearsal schedule, she failed to turn in her absentee ballot for the November 2010 General Election.
In 2010, Palin was featured in the Alaskan rock band Static Cycle's music video "Inside This World of Mine", wearing a matching mink coat and hat with a glass encased rose.