Gaby Rodriguez’s life-altering time as a fake “pregnant” teen
By AMARIS CASTILLO
Last year, 17-year-old Gaby Rodriguez pretended to be pregnant for her senior project, as part of her graduation requirement. To look convincing, the then-high school senior at Toppenish High School in Toppenish, Washington donned a fake stomach crafted from wire, clay and cotton batting for six months.
“There were so many reasons I wanted to do it,” Rodriguez writes in her new memoir, The Pregnancy Project, which she co-wrote with Jenna Glatzer. “First, it would give me better insight into what my mother and sisters had gone through, as well as all the other teen moms around me.”
In the book, out January 17, Rodriguez details her time as a “pregnant” teenager. Only a handful of people were in on her secret, including her mother, boyfriend Jorge, and school principal, Trevor Greene.
After she revealed the truth to her school at the end of the year, Rodriguez’s story drew national headlines. But for Rodriguez it was simply a project filled with hope: the teen wanted to see what life was like as a young woman “with child.”
“Maybe it would give me some understanding into why there are so many sad stories resulting from teen pregnancy – why the mothers don’t wind up doing much with their lives,” Rodriguez writes, “why the kids so often have problems with anger, depression, and substance abuse.”
For her, it was a puzzle she was determined to solve.
To understand where her project sprouted from, Rodriguez takes readers into her family’s history, a complicated web of teenage motherhood, abuse, and alcohol addiction. Rodriguez was often left to care for her siblings’ little ones, a task she later resented.
In The Pregnancy Project, Rodriguez writes both truthfully and carefully about each of her family members, and how their words and actions surrounding relationships have helped her forge her own, distinct path. With regards to her project, Rodriguez notes a more personal meaning.
“I also wanted to open up a discussion about stereotypes and statistics,” she wrote. “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.”
As her fake stomach grew, Rodriguez increasingly felt ostracized by those around her, including her family. Rumors swirled around her, and insults were whispered behind her back. The book takes readers through it all; they’re able to feel what Rodriguez feels on the deeply emotional journey in the months leading up to her big fess-up.
The Pregnancy Project prompted a Lifetime original movie based on Rodriguez’s story, which is set to premiere on Jan. 28 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
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