In September 2008, America was introduced to the Duggar family on the TLC reality show 17 Kids and Counting. The series followed the lives of devout Christians Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their 17 children, which later became 19, from Tontitown, Arkansas. It lasted for an impressive ten seasons until its cancellation in 2015. During the show’s seven years, viewers got to watch as two children were born, three were married, and four grandchildren were born. One of the Duggars daughters in particular, Jim and Michelle’s fifth-born Jessa who now has the last name of Seewald, has been receiving a ton of attention in the last few years. Since moving out of her parent’s house, the 25-year-old now has a life and family of her own. The mother-of-two hasn’t said goodbye to television quite yet however, and stars in her family’s spin-off reality show on TLC, Counting On, with several of her siblings. The young wife and mother has gone on to become a true celebrity, with a large fanbase of her own including a following of two million people on her Instagram account. However, despite all of the fans that she, and her husband, have acquired over the last couple of years, she also has her fair share of harsh, and sometimes cruel, critics, as well as a scandal that would rock America’s view of the Duggar family to its core.
Reality television star Jessa Seewald first rose to prominence in 2008 on TLC’s 17 Kids and Counting, a show that documented her parents’ ever-growing family which eventually became 19 Kids and Counting two children later. Jessa, who at the time still had her family’s last name of Duggar, is the fifth of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s nineteen children. After a solid seven-year run on air, the family’s reality series came to an official end in 2015. However, it doesn’t mean that the Duggar siblings, especially Jessa, is out of the limelight. The 25-year-old is now all grown up, and has a life, career, and growing family of her own.
Although Jessa didn’t truly become a well-known figure until the TLC show, she had already grown accustomed to living her life on-screen starting from an early age. Her first reality gig was on the 2004 Discovery Health Channel documentary about her parents, who at the time only had 14 kids, titled 14 Children and Pregnant Again. Jessa, who was 12 years old at the time, and her 13 other siblings, had their daily life followed from the “time they wake up” to the “time they go to sleep.” Two children later, another Discovery Health Channel documentary titled Raising 16 Children was aired in 2006. That same year, yet another documentary was broadcasted that followed the Duggar family road trip called On the Road with 16 Children.
So what has been going on with Jessa’s life in the last few years? For starters, she is now married. In September, 2013 she started a courtship with Ben Seewald, whom she met through her family’s church. He, like Jessa and all of the Duggars, is a devout Christian. He also is quite passionate about politics and earned an associate’s degree in political science. After a little over a year of dating, the two tied the knot on November 1, 2014.
Writing a book
In 2014, Jessa, along with three of her sisters Jill, Jinger, and Jana, wrote a book titled Growing Up Duggar: It’s All About Relationships. The book gave readers a look inside the lives of the four eldest Duggar daughters as they revealed startling tidbits about their personal lifestyle choices, Christian beliefs, and relationships. They also gave advice about choosing the right companion and “waiting” for physical intimacy in relationships until marriage, as well as the importance of women dressing “modestly.”
Following the cancellation of 19 Kids and Counting in 2015, Jessa decided to take on yet another reality TV show on TLC, starring her and her older sister Jill Dillard titled Jill & Jessa: Counting On. After a couple of years, the series, which is now about to air its eighth season, changed to simply Counting On, following the lives of many of the older Duggar children. The show’s creation, however, came right in the wake of a difficult time for the Duggar family…
In May 2015, it was reported that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s oldest child Josh had “inappropriately touched” five underage girls, four of which were his sisters, during 2002 to 2003, when Josh was 14 and 15 years old. The following month, Jessa and her sister Jill appeared on the Megyn Kelly Fox News show The Kelly File. During the shocking interview, the sisters identified themselves as two of the women who were victims to their older brother’s inappropriate touching.
In the interview, Jessa and Jill opened up about how they were unaware of the abuse until their parents, who Josh had confessed to, sat them down and told them. Jessa explained that she was completely “shocked” and called the abuse “very wrong.” However, she defended her brother against some of the titles that the media had given him, calling them “so overboard” and “a lie” explaining that he “made some bad choices.”
A few months after the controversial and upsetting interview, Jessa gave birth to their first child, a son named Spurgeon Elliot. He was named after two influential figures in the couple’s lives, Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon and Christian missionary Jim Elliot. On February 6, 2017, Jessa and Ben welcomed their second son into the world, who they named Henry Wilberforce after the minister and author Matthew Henry and Christian politician William Wilberforce. In March 2018, rumors spread that she was pregnant with her and Ben’s third child…
Responding to rumors
However, it was later revealed that Jessa, although she and her husband definitely want more children, is not yet pregnant with a third. After getting sick of being asked about her “baby bump” the mom-of-two shared a selfie of her on Instagram, putting an end to the rumors once and for all. She wrote, “Because I’ve been asked if I’m hiding a bit of a bump…BIG ANNOUNCEMENT! Yes!” She clarified, “But it’s currently a shrinking bump rather than a growing one,” and hashtagged “#postpartum.”
For now, the couple is plenty busy and happy with their two adorable boys. Shortly after the birth of their second kid, the Seewalds opened up with honesty about how their life has become “a little busier” since going from family-of-three to four. “One adjustment going from one child to two is there are so many diapers and they pile up so fast,” Ben said. “We take the trash out a lot more often!”
Hopes for the future
Jessa explained how it feels going from parents to one to two young kids. She said, “I kind of expected it to be a challenge going from one to two kids – I feel like every day is different.” She continued, “Some days it’s very, very simple. Other days, it’s a little more chaotic.” Despite the challenges, Jessa and Ben admitted that they would love to expand their family in the near future, saying that they are also considering “adopting and fostering.”
Unfortunately, being a public figure certainly comes with its downsides, especially when you are a parent. The mother-of-two is all too familiar with getting “mommy-shamed” on social media. Recently, Jessa was heavily criticized on Instagram after she shared some photos of her messy home. Although the TV star was hoping to shed some light on the reality of being a mom, she was instead left with thousands of cruel remarks from people calling her “lazy” and “dirty.”
In the post, the stay-at-home mom shared pictures of a pile of laundry stacked up on her bed, a dusty table, dirty bed sheets, colored on furniture, a pile of dirty diapers, a living room covered in toys, and more. She captioned the photos writing, “This is real life, y’all.” After receiving plenty of backlash for her “gross” home, she took to Instagram to defend her post. She wrote that she “could have waited 24 hours and posted pics of everything freshly cleaned and looking beautiful,” but that she “didn’t do that for a reason.”
The mother-of-two also opened up about the hardships and reality of motherhood. She said, “Sometimes you find yourself with an 8-month-old who isn’t sleeping through the night, and you don’t care that your bed has spit up on it – you’re tired.” She added, “Sometimes you don’t want to wash the dishes right after supper because your husband is home from work, and there’s only one golden hour of family time before babies are tucked into bed.” Jessa was then applauded for her honest words by moms all around the world who can relate.
However, that wasn’t the first time Jessa and her husband were judged on social media for their parenting. After recently sharing a video on Instagram of their younger son Henry playing in what appeared to be an empty and clean fireplace, Jessa was once again under attack by her followers. One commenter wrote, “Am I the only one who noticed the baby playing in the fireplace?!” Not long after, the mom received more hate after posting a video of her little one walking around outside barefoot.
Since each of the Duggar children, Jessa included, were homeschooled – they are now carrying out that tradition with their own kids. However, after Jessa posted a video of her older son Spurgeon identifying shapes with his older cousin, many of her angry followers are doubting Jessa and Ben’s ability to properly educate their children. Many commenters pointed out the misspellings that were written out on the board their son was using, judging the parents for not correcting them. One person wrote, “Shaps? Interesting that it has NOT been corrected. Do they believe it is correct?”
Social media queen
Despite her many critics, Jessa has quite an impressive fan base. Living life in front of the camera has certainly turned her into a mega-celebrity over the past few years. Her Instagram currently has a whopping two million followers. And while the mother does receive some harsh comments here and there from her online fans, she certainly has her fair share of admirers who look up to the stay-at-home mother’s lifestyle, parenting techniques, and Christian beliefs and morals.
Besides staying active on social media, Jessa and Ben also have a successful blog, that they share, titled appropriately The Seewald Family. On the website, they share photos and posts about their adorable children, as well as updates on what’s going on with the rest of the Duggar family such as wedding and baby announcements. They also take advantage of their well-followed blog to promote S.O.S Ministries, a faith-based ministry that the entire Duggar family has been very involved in and has even been featured on their TLC shows.
Jessa, like the rest of the Duggar family, has held on to her strong Christian beliefs since starting a life and family of her own. She frequently uses her celebrity status and impressive social media presence to promote Christian values, often sharing inspirational religious quotes, articles, and videos. However, after posting a screenshot of an online sermon series titled “Nine Arguments Against Anxiety,” that called anxiety a “sin,” fans were upset to say the least. Many criticized the mom for promoting the controversial belief that it is possible to simply “pray the anxiety away.”