(Originally published in July 2007)
The Empathy Belly is still by far the most dominant pregnancy simulator on the market, but a dramatic recent price cut indicates that the Pregnancy Profile (the Pepsi or Avis to the Empathy Coke and Empathy Hertz) is making up ground.
I wore the Profile for an hour — I wasn’t going for another 24! –, more than ample time to understand how it feels in comparison to the Belly. Students in teen pregnancy prevention classes usually go no longer than 30 minutes.
Although the suit is eight pounds lighter, the Profile rib belt pulled around tighter, so I felt many of the same side effects such as increased heart rate and body temperature. Personally, I felt that the Velcro straps made the Empathy Belly seem more like “a part of me” than the plastic buckles and backpack straps did for the Profile.
The Profile’s buckles made me feel like I was putting on one of those Baby Bjorn infant carriers. Which isn’t a bad thing, just an observation.
If you are from an educational institution considering the purchase of a pregnancy simulator, check out both companies’ comparison charts for all the trash talk.
On another note, the Web is saturated with intriguing stories about how these suits are used in the most unexpected ways. And there is also an abundance of material speculating about the possibility of male pregnancy.
Some recommended reading:
1. MALE PREGNANCY HOAX? Check out installation artist Virgil Wong’s 1999 exhibit on the first male pregnancy. The imagery and scientific jargon convinced many people the event was real.
2. EMPATHY FOR A MONTH — Public relations guru Kevin Burke, who owns a marketing company tailored toward women, wore The Empathy Belly for a month (no more than 16 hours at a time) to celebrate Mother’s Day. Burke strapped on the suit at home and the office, but never in public because he did not want his efforts to be misconstrued as “trivializing motherhood.”
4. INSENSITIVE BELLIES? — The Chicago Tribune’s Julie Deardorff discovered that some women are turned off by guys who wear The Empathy Belly and talk about how sensitive they are. Hope she doesn’t mean me.
5. ENGINEERING EMPATHY — Learn more about the belly-wearing engineers at the Ford Motor Company.
6. THE BEVERAGE BELLY — Want the belly without the side effects of pregnancy and a buzz to boot? You might prefer The Beerbelly, a refillable bladder meant to be smuggled into ballgames.
7. PASS THE SALT WATER — Read what one British moron did to experience the sensation of morning sickness! Yum-yum!
8. THE BRITISH BUMP “The Bump” is a British-designed pregnancy simulator that differs from The Empathy Belly and Pregnancy Profile in two ways. Most notably, it allows users to add or subtract weight with removable four-pound bean bags. It also has silicone-filled breasts for a more realistic weight distribution and a better logo than either the Belly or the Profile.
EMPATHY BELLY AND PREGNANCY-RELATED LINKS
LABOR OF LOVE — My original Boston Herald feature on the Belly.
EMPATHY BUZZ – Inspirational responses to my Belly exercise.