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Empathy Elizabeth

photo credit: Mackenzie Baker

Experiencing life as a pregnant teen, Liz Abrams wears Mrs. Shepherd's empathy Belly to gain a perspective of being with child while in high school.

Liz Abrams

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How I spent time as a pregnant teenager

According to, around 750,000 teenagers end up pregnant every year. That is three out of every 10 teens. If you take 10 girls: the valedictorian, the dancer, the cheerleader, the nerd, the hick, the harlot, the preppy, the popular, the athletic and the Christian, three of these girls could end up with a child before they graduate high school.

With this knowledge I decided to try something out. I chose to get pregnant. I did not go and get pregnant in the traditional way; I used an ‘empathy belly.’ An empathy belly weighs, looks and feels like an actual eight-month-pregnant belly. Normally the empathy belly is used as a teaching tool in the Human Growth and Development class. Students get the opportunity to wear the belly for a short period of time to experience what pregnancy is like. They bend over to pick things up, sit down, stand up and walk around. With the permission of my teacher, I wore the belly sporadically.

The action of my pregnancy at school was not for the stares; it was for the experience. What is it like walking around, going up and down the stairs and sitting for so long? What is the day in the life of a pregnant teenage girl like?

I went to school in the belly, and that was nearly impossible. I do not recommend getting pregnant and trying to sit at a desk for 45 minutes seven times a day. It is not comfortable. My back ached, my arms did not have as much motion as they normally do and I could not scoot in all the way to the desk to write. Granted, most of my classmates were intelligent enough to recognize the fact that I could not get eight months pregnant overnight.

According to the statistics, you would think this is what people are used to seeing on a daily basis, something they would not turn their heads to. Wrong. People turn their heads, point their fingers and stare a second too long. It is embarrassing and annoying. Not something that I could handle every single day.

Not only did I go to school in the belly, I also went to Firewheel for a day. I walked around and shopped. I just acted like a normal teenage girl would, except with an eight-month-pregnant belly. The amount of people who looked at me and noticed me who normally would not was astonishing. I was the center of attention and someone to feel sorry for. Other teen girls looked at me like I had a scarlet ‘A’ sewn on my shirt, parents looked at me like a bad influence and grandparents looked down on me like I was the reason the generation was going downhill.

Pregnancy taught me multiple things, but most of all it taught me to have empathy. Not to stare at girls my age who are pregnant, or to hate on the guys who got them pregnant. It hurts when you are the person receiving the criticism and rude comments and put under that spot light like a bug. It is never fun. Feel their pains and emotions before placing judgments upon them.

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