In the next incarnation of the rabid baby-bump watching that has plagued (and, let's be honest, delighted) Hollywood celebrities of late, the faux-baby bump has now, apparently, become a hot trend in China – for actors, pranksters and even as a "fashion accessory."
We can see the benefits: Why bother with an actual baby when you can get those handy mommy-to-be parking spots or the last seat on the crowded bus, or just those aw-shucks glances, with a piece of plastic strapped to your belly? (Plus it's a nice place to rest your hands after a long day.)
The prosthetics, which are sold in different sizes to match different stages of pregnancy, are hot sellers in China, the People's Online Daily reports. They range in price from $80 to $250.
Although the fake baby bump made an early appearance on Glee, it was really Beyoncé that put it on the radar after people suggested that the singer might be using one to fake her pregnancy. Responding to those suggestions in an interview with Katie Couric this month, Beyonce said: "There are certain things that are so far [out]that it doesn't even upset you. My mother, she's like, 'Nobody's talking about my grandbaby! My grandbaby's not even here yet!' I'm like, 'Calm down, mom. It's okay. It's really silly.' 'I don't like it!' So my mom is really protective and so is my sister, but I'm cool. It's so ridiculous and over the top."
That still hasn't stopped the chatter – or the analyzing of Ms. Couric's reaction to touching the bump itself. (Twice, and without really asking.)
It didn't take long for the faux-bump trend to begin prompting outrage from moms themselves, including blogger Julie Ryan Evans, who argued that no one should get the perks of pregnancy without the pain, and that bumps "are a hard-earned privilege that shouldn't be anyone's for the taking just because they want to look like their favourite celebrity."
Whether pregnant women will feel the bumps are an "affront" (or just silly flattery) is up for debate. But at least, as Ms. Evans quips, the people weird enough to wear one won't actually be responsible for a real baby.
Faking a baby bump – fun or freaky? (And do we really need to ask?) Will the trend make you suspicious of all the so-called "pregnant" women on the bus?