The Washington Post reports a strange story out of Michigan, where a teenager duped her small town of Wyandotte—including her 16-year-old boyfriend—into believing she was pregnant with triplets, even past her supposed due date. She pulled off the deceit with the help of a website called—and this is not a joke—FakeABaby.com. (They actually mean fake a pregnancy, as babies are even harder to fake than baby bumps.) Through this website, our young con artist purchased all the gear she needed for her hoax—including a sham ultrasound—until her ruse ran out of time.
FakeABaby markets itself as just a “prank” website, but no one in her right mind could ever mistake pretending to be pregnant for months for a harmless prank. And as Jezebel points out, one of the site’s ads ask, “How Can I Get His Attention? We Can Help!” It isn’t just this one website, either. As Chandler Friedman and Leslie Bentz at CNN reported in 2013, there’s a small but brisk trade of pregnant women on Craigslist selling positive pregnancy tests to those who, uh, need them. (“Wanna get your boyfriend to finally pop the question?” one ad found by CNN read. “Play a trick on Mom, Dad or one of your friends?”)
Perhaps this phenomenon is not as baffling as it seems. Our culture does romanticize pregnancy and childbirth, with some corners holding out motherhood as the pinnacle of a woman’s life, far surpassing any other accomplishments she might achieve. Anything that’s vaunted that much is going to attract poseurs who want the glory without the work. Being a parent is a great thing, of course. But it might be worth asking ourselves how on earth a teen girl could get the idea that the way to get attention was to convince everyone she’s making some babies.