Pregnancy

The Pregnancy Project: Teen Who Faked Baby Bump Shares Story In New Book

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pregnancy project bookAfter faking her pregnancy for nine months – fooling classmates and teachers alike – American high school student Gaby Rodriguez has given birth to a new book called The Pregnancy Project. Some of you might recall Rodriguez’s story when it made headlines last year; in April 2011, the Washington state teen revealed at a school assembly that she had donned a fake baby bump as a way to explore stereotypes about teen pregnancy.

Rodriquez’s mother, boyfriend and principal were among a handful of people in on the secret, and so her announcement left hundreds reeling in shock. Many felt betrayed – she had lied to them, after all – but others commended Rodriguez for drawing attention to the the country’s high teen pregnancy rate.

In The Pregnancy Project, Rodriguez shares why she took on this experiment – initially intended as a school project for her senior year – which includes revelations about her own family history. Her mother, Juana, got pregnant at age 14. She married the baby’s 16-year-old father and went on to have six more children with him. Their three daughters got pregnant as teenagers and two sons got their girlfriends pregnant. As Rodriguez explains, teen pregnancy was like a “family tradition.” (Gaby was born later and to a different father.)

Rodriguez lives in Toppenish, which is about 75% Hispanic and, according to reports, Latinas have the highest teen pregnancy and birth rates among any major racial or ethnic minority. She personally grew up hearing that she’d end up just like her sisters – even from members of her own family.

“Being a Hispanic girl from a family full of teen pregnancies meant that my odds of also becoming a teen mom were way higher than average,” Rodriguez wrote. “If I gave people what they predicted, how would they react?”

Those reactions, it turns out, were mostly negative. In The Pregnancy Project, Rodriguez writes about classmates gossiping behind her back and about her feelings of isolation. But it was all worth to get her message across.

“At a time in their lives when teens are becoming sexually active, they need to realize how the decisions they make now will ultimately affect their lives,” she told Publishers Weekly. “And those teens who do become pregnant need to know that it’s not the end of the road. They can find support for themselves and their child, and can move forward.”

In addition to a book, Rodriguez also struck up a TV movie deal with Lifetime. The Pregnancy Project airs on January 28.