After spending nine weeks wearing a 33-pound “Empathy Belly’’ suit to supposedly simulate being pregnant, a GQ writer has reached a humbling conclusion.
Writer Benjamin Percy detailed his time in the suit for an article in the March issue of GQ.
He wore a contraption on the outside of his clothes that was specially designed by Japanese scientists. He describes it in the article as “ribbed with stitching, and made from nylon thick enough to bend a butcher knife.
He wore the suit while doing everything from mowing the lawn to chopping wood to doing push-ups. He wore the pregnancy suit to a neighborhood gathering, where the men slug me in the gut and the women tenderly pat my back and say ‘Bless your heart’ and my 6-year-old son pulls me aside and tells me I really ought to take the thing off, I'm embarrassing him,’’
He did the experiment because he has several friends who are stay-at-home dads and roles shifting in many families -- from the days when grandfathers never held babies and fathers never changed diapers -- Percy wore the suit as part stunt and part experiment to deepen his empathy for what women experience during pregnancy.
So what was the reaction to his stunt by the women?
“They wanted me to have heartburn roiling up my throat, they wanted me to have varicose veins rising like garden hoses up my legs, (and) they wanted me to pee every five minutes and to be constipated for a week. They wanted to jab me full of hormone-oozing needles, essentially. Once they saw me in the suit, they’re like, ‘Nice try, wuss.’’’
After experiencing a fraction of what it’s like to be pregnant and realizing he is not man enough for the task, Percy also realized one other thing. “I’m never putting on this suit again,’’ he said.