Month after month, as her baby bump grew, fellow high schoolers talked behind Gaby Rodriguez’s back—until they found out she’d never been pregnant at all. Instead, the 17-year-old faked a pregnancy, complete with a wire-and-cotton belly, as a social experiment at her school in Washington, the Yakima Herald-Republic reports. Only her mother, principal, boyfriend, and a few others knew the truth, while her teachers and even her boyfriend's parents were left in the dark for most of Rodriguez’s senior year.
“At times, I just wanted to take it off and be done,” she says. But she held out long enough to host an all-school assembly this week, entitled “Stereotypes, Rumors, and Statistics.” It began with friends and teachers reading out comments that had been made about her, some nasty. Then, she told the crowd her secret. She’d feared anger—but instead received a standing ovation. “She gave up her senior year" to learn about the experience of a teen mom, says her principal, who had his doubts when she presented her plan to him. “I admire her courage.” Click through for more on Gaby Rodriguez's story.