Saying – Boston, Massachusetts

--Informant Info--
Nationality: African-American
Age: 53
Occupation: Field Service Worker
Residence: Boston, MA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 29, 2008
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Saying: “Broke Her Leg”

Don told me he learned and understood the meaning of this saying when he was a young boy, when he was probably around ten years old. He learned the term in Boston, Massachusetts, but believes this term came from church mothers raised in southern states. He said the saying is used when a young girl becomes pregnant and is looked down upon by the women of the community. The pregnant girl would be “shipped off” away from her community, and the family members of the pregnant girl would tell the townspeople, “She broke her leg,” when they asked where the girl was. “She broke her leg” automatically implies that the unmarried girl became pregnant at a young age and was sent off to live somewhere else. Those who are not a part of the community would automatically assume that she broke her leg, but those who are aware of this term would know that the young girl is pregnant.

Don says that this saying tells a lot about how the acceptance of teen pregnancies has changed over the past 30-40 years. He said it was looked down upon to be a teen mother; society would not accept you, you were often shunned from the church, denied from jobs, and talked about at social events. However, he said nowadays you see Jamie Lynn Spears and films like Juno that are glorifying the practice of teen pregnancy. He stated there were less teen pregnancies when becoming pregnant at an early age was considered a social transgression.

I agree with Don’s interpretation of this saying and understand his logic behind the meaning. I believe that in the 21st century we have come to accept teen pregnancy as a norm. In some ways this can be a positive outlook because we are providing more resources of support to young pregnant teens. However, I do feel that our acceptance of teen pregnancy has given way to an increase in wedlock teen pregnancies because now society has accepted that teen pregnancy is inevitable and cannot completely be eliminated. Although this may be true, the problem lies is in the media and communities accepting teen pregnancy as a social norm. This certain belief may be fine if teen mothers could provide for their children, but in most cases teen mothers lack the responsibility and resources needed to take care of their babies. I can also see how this saying has the potential to become less used because of the shift of thinking that has caused American society to more so accept teenage pregnancy.