Oregon High School Student Who Faked Pregnancy For Her Senior Project Deserves An A+++

faking pregnancyWhen I was a senior in high school we made some lame attempts at senior pranks. One of which was stealing all the clocks in the classrooms. I felt really cool because I was able to procure what was seen by many as the forbidden clock, the one in the teacher’s lounge. But this high school senior in Oregon is way cooler and braver than I ever was.

Maria Miranda of Forest Grove High School took it upon herself to create her own social experiment for her senior project on stereotyping when she faked a pregnancy. She wanted to see what kind of reactions she would receive from her peers (much like Gaby Rodriguez who later wrote a book about her faux teen pregnancy project).

Miranda kept up the charade for six months before revealing to the entire school that she had made the whole thing up. She worked a fake belly and posted sonogram pictures and a fake doctor’s note on Facebook to get the rumor mill up and running.  She didn’t keep the secret entirely to herself: she told four close friends and a few of her teachers who were asked to keep track of what people were saying about her. The reactions they got were mixed but underscored a lot about the stigma of teenage motherhood:

Some classmates wrote “Congrats!” or offered help or support. But, to her surprise, few of her classmates would ever follow up in person. Many of her classmates whom she considered friends would sometimes avoid eye contact with her. And each day, she’d arrive to school greeted by stares.

One day, she stepped into a teacher’s classroom after school. “Oh great,” her teacher said, looking at her from his desk. “A child having a child.”

Miranda said her inner circle helped her to keep going even when it was becoming more and more difficult. She is happy she stuck it out because she learned a lot in the process and hopes her classmates did too:

“We all makes mistakes,” Miranda said. “Not only teen moms.” Sometimes, she added, there’s also the mistakes of those who judge them.”

Next year’s seniors are going to have a difficult time trying to top this stellar senior project.

(photo: Sam72 / Shutterstock)

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  • Andrea

    And what did this prove? That people don’t “approve” of a teenager being pregnant? Or that people don’t “support” a child having a baby? And what good does THAT do???

    I see no point to this excersize. Energy better spent in educating teens about the downside of having a child in high school. Or obtaining better sex education for teens.

    • SusannahJoy

      I was thinking the same thing. Of course people weren’t all super excited for her! She’s a teenager and really, shouldn’t be having a baby yet! Granted, she shouldn’t be shamed for it, especially by the teachers, but still. It seems like there’d a lot of more important aspects of teen pregnancy to focus on, like how to prevent it in the first place.

    • chickadee

      Someone doesn’t like the idea that teen pregnancy isn’t a swell idea. I’m not at all on board with shaming teen mothers, but what in the blazes is wrong with using this experience to teach prevention?

    • Andrea

      Nothing, Except that this DOESN’T

    • chickadee

      I hope that more comprehensive sex ed was the point of her project, because otherwise it’s really just a rehash of the earlier book. Maybe she could incorporate her negative experiences into an argument for better sex ed programs and a plan for enacting them? Use the negative feedback as evidence that despite our society’s willingness to help and accept teen mothers, the public perception is still that it is something to be avoided?

    • Andrea

      That’s kinda what I’m saying. The whole thing has been done before. To me, the experiment has been proven already. What was the point of it? Unless she USED the results of her experiment to promote better sex education. Or something else, I don’t know. But just pretending to be pregnant to gauge people’s reaction has not only done before, but it proves nothing we don’t already know: yeah, no one is happy that a teen is pregnant. DUH.

    • chickadee

      No kidding. I mean, I think people who shame teen mothers are crappy people who should be called out on their behavior, but I think the research is out there that supports teenagers NOT becoming parents when they are teenagers. Particularly if they are still trying to get an education.

      And yes, this project doesn’t seem to have much of a thesis. People were mean to a pregnant teenager. And? And she plans to set up a support group for pregnant teenagers and their partners? (which would be good) And she plans to educate the school or the community about teen pregnancy and the way it is perceived? And she wants to distinguish between televised pregnant teenagers and the reality of pregnant teenagers? I don’t know….

    • bl

      I don’t know. I think it’s important, not so much for what she learned, but what other people hopefully learned about themselves. Once that teacher realized she wasn’t pregnant, her whole attitude toward the girl probably changed. Hopefully she’s self-aware enough to realize “Hey. She’s the same person. I was rude to her when she wasn’t even pregnant! Wait, the girls who are pregnant are ALSO the same people throughout. Maybe I can use my position as a teacher to make a more positive contribution to their situation than “Oh great…” and other pointless shaming remarks. Maybe she doesn’t deserve to hear about MY issues with teen pregnancy just because she happens to be a young pregnant person.”

    • Andrea

      While your point is well taken, I highly doubt that anyone’s attitudes towards teen pregnancy shifted a great deal. No one wants a teen to get pregnant. The question better posed is: what can we do to CHANGE that? How can we educate young teens so this DOESN’T happen?

      Not that I think slut-shaming works. But this experiment proved nothing. We already know no one is happy when a teen is pregnant.

    • Guest

      Actually, I think her research paper could be used towards “use a freaking condom you dam kids!” education.

  • once upon a time

    Is this the same one that went viral about a year ago or is this the second time someone’s done this?

    Regardless, I think it’s reprehensible. How awful to introduce this potential human being for people to form a bond with, and then to just take it all away. Any why? To repeat what Andrea said, to prove that people don’t ‘approve’ of a teenager being pregnant? No shit Sherlock, and so they shouldn’t!

    And her astounding revelation that people would offer help but not follow up sounds exactly like the kind of reception I received when I was pregnant at 27. And then a new mother at 28. Or every time I moved, after my grandparents died… People can be dicks at times. It has nothing to do with ‘shaming’ teen mothers.

    • Andrea

      I used to tell my sister this when she was expecting: everyone will offer to “help” and everyone loves to hold a baby, but there is no place so lonely as a nursery with a crying baby at 3 AM. Ain’t no one around then. And she wasn’t a teen or anything. Married, job, planned baby, etc. Being a pregnant teen ain’t gonna change that. People have their own lives and they are not gonna put them on hold for many people.

      Off tangent. Sorry. :)

  • Zoe

    She just copied another social experiment. It’s been done. And if I were a classmate of hers, I’d be pretty pissed at the trick.

    She would have been better off interviewing a heap of teen mothers and documenting their experiences, as well as interviewing friends, classmates and teachers at the schools anonymously. That way she could have had a wide pool from where she could draw her conclusions. Teen mums exist all over the place. She didn’t have to pretend to be one for this to work.

    Seems like an attention scam to me.

    • lea

      I don’t know why you got down voted for this!

      It has been done before. It was even made into a movie. I agree, attention seeking copy cat.

  • Justme

    What an interesting project. Quite frankly, I don’t think I would have had the balls to do something like that in high school. I was far too concerned with other people’s perception of me to knowingly put myself out there to be discussed in a negative light, as I assume this girl was.

  • A-nony-mous

    It sounds stupid to me. It’s already been done and even if it didn’t, it’s a bit like touching a hot stove. What did she expect would happen? People would greet her with open arms and offer free babysitting?

    What would the reaction be if she’d faked cancer? But that would be mean and not ok but it’s fine when it’s basically mocking us young mothers because we’re just stupid sluts, right? Or what if she’d faked being part of a religion? How about she fakes being Jewish? Or Muslim for a bit? Again, that would be an outrage.

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  • pazzia

    i guess i’m curious if the teen fathers get the same treatment? i’m thinking no…

    • Andrea

      Yeah you’d win that bet.

  • Sandy

    What a strong young woman! Stigma is by far the worst about any major occurence that affects your life; Pregnancy, mental or physical illnesses, you name it. Stigma and judging is all over it. I see two sides to this, one: people tend to think its ok to openly share opinions and two: even if they say theyll help they wont.

    And why is it like that? Why do we need to tell a teenager that shes a child having a child? They dont know if the teen in question already has adoption planned or if she got a really supporting and helpfull family. They dont know if it was discovered to late; Many experience having periods during pregnancy and thus find out way pass the time limit for abortions. Why should this person be held acountable for your personal opinions?

    And why do we offer help but dont do it? “if you need me im here. not really tough”. I experienced this myself. A lot of times people simply dont carry out what they say. it is very hard when you need someone to reach out and all you get is fake promises.