Baby not on board

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2012-8-22 18:15:04

Taobao sellers claim their fake baby bellies are very realistic and are seeing more women purchasing them. Photo: IC
                         Taobao sellers claim their fake baby bellies are very realistic and are seeing more women purchasing them. Photo: IC

Once used predominantly as a stage prop for actors, fake pregnancy bellies are now popular among normal Chinese women for a variety of reasons.

"Years ago people bought them for performances on stage, but now women are buying them for other purposes," said Li from South China's Guangdong Province, who sells his merchandise on Taobao, one of China's major online shopping platforms.

According to Li, most of his clients ask to be anonymous and many demand deals to be done offline.

Some of these anonymous clients suffer from infertility problems. They adopt children, who they pretend are their biological children.

Other reasons for buying fake pregnancy bellies include heightening chances of getting a seat when taking a crowded bus and to avoid being sacked at work, as cited by on August 10.

About 70 different shops are currently selling fake bellies on Taobao, with a total of 300 being bought so far this August. This number does not include the many offline deals that are made.

The bellies are made from some kind of silica gel and usually come in three sizes for different stages of pregnancy. They cost between 400 yuan ($63) and 3,600 yuan each. 

Labor pains

Almost all the shop owners who talked to Metro Beijing claimed their bellies were very realistic in how they both felt and looked.

Li said his factory tailor-makes the bellies for his clients. They are designed to suit the figure and skin of the customers.

"I can guarantee that no one will be able to spot the difference," Li noted. 

In an attempt to verify this, Metro Beijing contacted over 30 customers, but most declined to be interviewed. One woman surnamed Yao was more vocal though.

Yao bought a fake belly last December upon struggling to conceive. "No one wants others to know they are infertile," Yao said, who applied to adopt a baby girl from Southwest China's Yunnan Province.

Yao strapped on the fake baby bump every day at work.

"I wore bulky clothes like a real pregnant woman would and no one knew the truth except my family," she said.

Yao went on to conceive naturally soon after buying the fake belly. She stopped wearing the fake bump and canceled the adoption application.

An anonymous woman, in East China's Shandong Province, saw her fake pregnancy through though, wearing a fake bump for a whole month until a surrogate woman gave birth to her baby, back in June. 

The infertility rate has risen from around 5-10 percent to 10-15 percent in the past 20 years in China, and the number of women who are infertile amounts to 60 percent of that total, Long Xiaolin, a practitioner at the Third Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University, told the Guangzhou-based New Express Daily back in 2008.

Faking a pregnancy is one way of taking control of this situation, but sadly it could be counterproductive.

Kang Chunbo, a surgeon at the Central Hospital of China Aerospace Corporation, said that wearing silica gel bellies could be harmful to the health.

"If the fake belly is made of medical silica gel, then it should be OK," Kang said. "But if it is made of industrial silica gel, it could cause skin allergies."

People could get a horrible red rash or even worse if they have very sensitive skin, warned the doctor, who also cautioned against telling lies. 

Bad karma (sutra)

There are also women who bought the fake bellies to take advantage of some of the benefits pregnant women receive.

One Taobao customer said that after she bought a fake belly she could easily get a seat on a bus, that she did not need to queue as much and that she could enjoy the free lounge in some shopping malls, the Yangcheng Evening News reported.

A model said on her Sina Weibo, one of China's biggest microblogs, that she bought a fake belly in order to know what pregnancy felt like and to also get a seat on the bus.

Guan Feng, a teacher at the Shanghai Theater Academy, who purchased a belly for one of her students to use in a play last year, said she could not believe someone would wear the belly just to get a seat on the bus.

"It was really very heavy. Why would someone wear it during the hot summer just to simply get a seat on a bus?" Guan said.

Also coming down strong on women who wear fake bellies to get extra privileges, Yu Yanyan, researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, believed using one out of personal interest and taking advantage of people's morality was incorrect and could affect the public perception of pregnant women.

"If more people were found to be faking their pregnancy then no one would offer seats to those who really need them," Yu said, adding that government agencies should tighten the regulations on selling fake bellies.

At the same time, Yu had more sympathy for those who use them if they themselves cannot get pregnant but are adopting a child. People should be tolerant and respect others' privacy if it does not pose any real harm to society. 

"It's their choice to not let others know about their fertility problems and we should respect it and forgive their white lies," Yu said.


Fake baby bump exposed on subway, complaint filed

Posted in: Metro Beijing

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