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- Sep 22, 2018
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Pregnant in the Metaverse: Why Virtual Pregnancy Matters
With a Meta Quest 2 headset strapped on my head, I drew a boundary in the virtual realm to keep me from colliding into objects in the one I was leaving behind. Next up was creating an avatar. My small upturned nose, brown eyes and hair, and square jaw were easily rendered in cyberspace. From the different pear-shaped options available to me I chose a medium-sized body, and gave myself a rad haircut. Meta (née Facebook) boasts that the “metaverse will help take learning and discovery to a new level.” For me, in that moment, this amounted to discovering what I might look like with bangs.
But of all of the available avatar customizations—eyes, hair, clothes, ear piercings—I found no way to select a big ol’ pregnant belly. This was a letdown. Being virtually pregnant was why I was interloping in Horizon Worlds in the first place.
Second Life gets a few nods, and is described as “the most comprehensive kind of pregnancy experience in a video game that I’ve come across.”See, I am 33 years old, an age I am coming to understand is defined by every person I have ever met being pregnant. My Instagram feed is half ads for something called a “Snoo,” half photos of baby shoes, not yet worn, beside a panting labradoodle, captioned, “Milo is going to be a big sister.” I’m thinking about pregnancy a lot these days, to the point it’s fundamentally shifted my worldview. Riding the B train, at my office, in line at the bodega… Who of the people around me are pregnant? Who just had a baby and is grateful to no longer be wearing mesh diapers? Who desperately wants to be pregnant and can’t be? Every single person I talk to, roll my eyes at, or have a crush on came from a pregnant person. I feel the urge to adapt my obsession into a children’s book: Everyone Seems Pregnant. More than I am baby crazy, I’m perhaps a little bit pregnancy crazy.
Which is why I found myself wondering how I could experience pregnancy, without, you know, making a life-altering decision. I just wanted to be pregnant for the afternoon—to try it on for size, if you will. Dipping in and out of alternative realities? My curiosity seemed perfectly suited to the metaverse I’d been hearing so much about.