Just when the Duggar family thought they were accepted again, hopes were dashed when Jessa Duggar appeared in Birmingham Saturday at the Southern Women’s Show. Unlike her last two appearances at these events – one in Charlotte, North Carolina, on August 29, and the other in Orlando, Florida, on September 26 – not one news reporter covered her engagement and not one Duggar family fan posted a snapshot. Neither the event’s Facebook page, nor its website, even featured the exact time she would appear onstage.
This is a blow to the entire Duggar family, who were expecting a comeback into the good graces of audiences following the TLC announcement on September 24 that Jessa Duggar and her sister Jill were under contract for at least two new specials on the network. Of all the 19 kids in the Duggar family, the parents, and other Duggar relatives, Jessa was the only one who found paid speaking work (outside of the organizations founded by the controversial Bill Gothard) since eldest sibling Josh Duggar’s sexual scandals were first revealed on May 19.
The family’s long-running reality show on the TLC network, 19 Kids and Counting, was pulled from the air on May 22 as advertisers bailed. The show was permanently canceled on July 16. Jessa’s appearances at the Southern Women’s Show were booked prior to the May revelations and have gone on as scheduled.
The only picture online which even shows that Duggar family members were in Birmingham is one of Jessa Duggar and her husband, Ben Seewald, at the Octane Coffee cafe, and that was posted by Jessa herself on her Instagram page.
Her appearances are billed as onstage question-and-answer sessions, with autograph signing and photo ops afterwards. Because of the scandals, questions are prescreened by a moderator to avoid any mention of disgraced brother Josh Duggar or Josh’s sexual molestations of Jessa when she was a child in the Duggar family home. Ten days before the event in Charlotte, it was revealed that Josh had a secret account on the adultery dating site, Ashley Madison. The Facebook page of the Charlotte Southern Women’s Show was torpedoed with comments from people who disapproved of her appearance and advertisers were hounded with complaints. More than one post called for a boycott of the event. Many of the comments were removed and a disclaimer of sorts was posted by the event’s spokesperson.
By the time the show’s event in Orlando began, Josh Duggar had openly admitted to an addiction to pornography, adultery, and having paid for unprotected sex with a porno star while his wife was pregnant. For the speaking engagement in Orlando, the Southern Women’s Show did not even post Jessa’s appearance on its Facebook page. But Jessa did show up in Orlando and, as in Charlotte, took her husband Ben Seewald to sit beside her onstage. Oddly, at the Charlotte show, he was photographed signing his autograph to pictures of just his wife.
Comments against her appearance focus on contempt for the Duggar family, for Jessa for her lack of education and career goals, and for Ben for not having a real job and for even attending a women’s event, let alone appearing onstage even though he was not booked as a guest. Attendees at the show in Birmingham, however, had no complaints about the men of the Birmingham Firefighters being onstage.
The male firefighters dance for dollars and strut their stuff topless at the show every year before a screaming audience, all in the name of raising charity funds for the American Cancer Society.
Jessa has even angered long-standing Duggar family fans this summer by what many perceive as egotistical behavior. One backlash against her occurred in September when she was criticized for trying to upstage her cousin Amy’s wedding day by uploading over 100 pictures of her own wedding (which was 10 months earlier), instead of congratulating her cousin.
Jessa just may find herself upstaged as TLC films its special about the birth of her first child, which is due on November 1. It was announced today that NBC’s Law & Order: SVU will air a show on November 4, which will mirror the Duggar family.
At a press conference today, lead actor Peter Scanavino made scathing comments about the Duggar family.
“With the Duggar one, it was like the double-whammy because it was his sisters and the fact, I mean, honestly, I feel like we’re dealing with some topics this season that feel a bit meatier than some lunatic fringe family.”
“I wouldn’t mind doing one [a Duggar family episode] just because I have never been so infuriated with someone’s level of hypocrisy, and lying, and then displacement of responsibility onto something else. When I think about that guy, it boils my blood, I will say.”
Jessa Duggar has one final appearance scheduled for the Southern Women’s Show. This event will be in Jacksonville, Florida, on October 17, which is dangerously close to her due date. In fact, many airlines will not let a woman travel that late in her pregnancy. For more than one reason, perhaps Jessa should just cancel that engagement.
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[Intro Photo: TLC]