Kat Von D is no stranger to controversy — but last night she stirred up the most intense outrage yet, after using her massive public platform to announce that she wont be vaccinating her child.
Von D, who got married last weekend and who is expecting her first child with husband Leafar Seyer in the fall, posted the following picture and caption on her public Instagram and Facebook pages.
The post, which I have screenshotted against potential future edits, reads:
"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"
To put it mildly, there is A LOT going on there. Let's break this entire statement down, one assertion at a time.
First: People *do* wild out around pregnant people. They give unsolicited advice! They tell horror stories to try to scare them into behaving a certain way or doing a certain thing! They touch them without permission! They body-shame them! It is 100% messed up and not OK.
If you're pregnant in the public eye, as Kat is, that pressure is even more intense. She is correct saying that people need to ease up on the judgement and criticism of pregnant people.
Second: Everyone deserves to have the birth experience that they want — with or without drugs, in a hospital or at home, etc etc. Midwives and doulas can be amazing resources for pregnant people, and there is zero point in stigmatizing the care that adults choose to receive.
Third: You can raise your kids however you want. Veganism is not "unhealthy" in most cases — but please talk to a medical professional before deciding to raise a vegan infant. Kat can raise a vegan child, who may or may not grow up to be a vegan adult, and who will hopefully not have any lingering medical, psychological, or spiritual issues stemming from the choices his parents made for him as a baby.
And that's why Von D's public "no vaccinations" stand is so troubling. Because choosing not to vaccinate a child is not a lifestyle choice — it's a public health issue.
Raising a kid without vaccinations is not a choice like veganism is.
Before vaccinations existed, people died from illnesses that now we barely think about — polio, measles, whooping cough. Not only that, but through herd immunity, vaccines also help protect the people who *cannot* be vaccinated against these illnesses — infants, the elderly, people with compromised immune systems.
As the 2016 measles outbreak demonstrated, those illnesses are still around, and they still have the potential to be deadly. Positing vaccination as just another consumer choice is misinformed.
Beyond the public health issues, there are also the personal issues to consider. Here's a thread on Reddit from people, now adults, whose parents "chose" not to vaccinate them as children. Their experience range from "I got incredibly sick" and "I was kicked out of multiple schools, which I hated" to "someone I loved, who was not vaccinated, died." All of these people had to be vaccinated as adults in order to attend university, get certain jobs, and participate in society.
More than that — Kat Von D has an absolutely massive public platform. And that's why using it to transmit anti-vaccination ideas is so irresponsible.
Kat's public Instagram page has 6.7 million followers.
Her public Facebook page — where this message appeared in its entirety — has 6.4 million.
Kat has already demonstrated that she can motivate her massive, passionate fanbase to care about the issues that she speaks out about. She's been an outspoken advocate for animal rights and veganism, and has inspired many of her millions of followers to follow a plant-based lifestyle. She spoke up about NARS Cosmetics no longer being cruelty free, and her fans reacted dramatically with NARS boycotts and impassioned Instagram campaigns.
And let's not forget the situation that started it all: her anti-Jeffree Star video and post. Many applauded Kat for cutting ties with someone who has such a hateful past, but Von D's public condemnation of Star — which, again, took place via her massive social channels — had the unintended effect of boosting Star's profile, making him not just internet-famous, but real-world famous.
In short, Kat has a LOT of power. Her fans look up to her, they listen to her, and when she says things, they really take her seriously. She has the power to amplify ideas via her public platform — and that's exactly why using it to transmit anti-vaccination nonsense is so dangerous.
Additionally, Von D's apparent anti-vaxx stance may affect her beauty brand — as KVD Beauty has always been about sharing the same belief system as Kat herself.
Kat Von D's vegan lifestyle directly influenced the KVD Beauty brand to become 100% vegan and cruelty-free.
Von D also rescinded a KVD Beauty contest winner's invitation to a launch party after it was revealed that the person was a Trump supporter.
A brand founder using an immense public platform to disseminate potentially dangerous ideas around vaccination has, unsurprisingly, already caused backlash against the makeup brand. Former fans are saying that they can no longer support Von D, and that they will not be purchasing her beauty products any longer.
Scandals like these — especially those that can be summed up in a pithy soundbite, like "Kat Von D is an anti-vaxxer" — can have a long lifespan, and have the potential to REALLY derail a successful brand.
I've reached out to Kat's reps for comment, and will update this post if and when I hear back.
Watch this space, friends.