Gaby Rodriquez will have her fifteen minutes of fame in the national media because she faked a pregnancy for 6 ½ months as a “social experiment” in her Yakima Valley high school. Only her high school principal, her mother and 20-year old boyfriend were aware that Rodriguez was not pregnant, her teachers, high school peers and even her best friend were all fooled. Rodriguez staged this charade because she wanted to make a point: “You have to take control of your life and not live your life in the shadows of stereotypes and rumors.” I’m sorry but I’m still confused. Was there a hypothesis? Did she want to know how people would treat her if she became pregnant? Was she acting out a fantasy? Is this why prime time television and media outlets from the east and west coast, as well as Canada and the BBC in London have all pursued Rodriguez with baited breath? There’s even talk about a movie and hiring an entertainment attorney.
Rodriguez lives in a town of approximately 9,000 people where 33% of the population lives below the poverty level and the median income is $26,950. Her high school is 85 percent Hispanic. These are the demographics of a community who is not surrounded by power and luxury. The irony is that the media now wants to speak to Rodriguez because she wasn’t pregnant. She didn’t perpetuate a stereotype and successfully pulled off a hoax. But is that a reason to gain notoriety? The U.S. has the highest rate of teen pregnancy of all developed countries. About 82 percent of pregnant teens are unmarried and 74-95 percent of their pregnancies are unintended. Only 33 percent of pregnant teens will graduate from high school. They are also at risk for several pregnancy complications including an increased risk of pre-eclampsia, Down syndrome, poor weight gain, premature labor and low birth weight babies. These are the facts that should be discussed in the media but I will not hold my proverbial breath and wait.
My media coaches so aptly advised me that the media’s job is to entertain and if you receive some noteworthy information in the process, consider yourself lucky. Wearing a prosthetic pregnant belly is now an entree to prime time television. I hope it doesn’t become a trend.