By Shi Yingying and Li Xinzhu in Shanghai
BEIJING, May 29 (Xinhuanet) -- It must have been a very fertile business mind that came up with the idea of selling fake silicon bellies to make the wearers appear pregnant.
"We do both exporting and domestic business, but these two groups of clients are buying fake bellies for different reasons," said saleswoman Wang Rui from a manufacturer in Guangdong province.
"Our American customers, for example, are usually in the entertainment industry, like stand-up comedy, and they use it as a prop to increase comic effects, in addition to their use in art performances, while some Chinese buy the bellies to dress themselves up as pregnant women."
Some buyers use artificial bellies during the transition in surrogacy or adoption situations, sellers said, so that neighbors, co-workers or even family may not know the baby is adopted.
According to Wang, who also runs an online shop on taobao.com, the sales of fake bellies made of silica gel have only started to soar.
"I'd say Chinese consumers started to know about fake bellies only in recent years and that's when we shifted our production focus from solely producing silicone breasts to both breasts and bellies," said Wang,
"We offer a one-year guarantee and there's a special discount to those who buy three bellies of various sizes," she said. The strap-on bellies range in prices from 400 ($63) to 3,600 yuan, simulating 2-4 months, 5-7 months and 8-9 months.
"On top of it, we have twins-size," said a salesman surnamed Li from Longfeng Silicone Technology in Shenzhen.
Li said that the fake belly can also be customized.
"We request a photo of your skin color before making the belly. Other information such as a customer's weight, height and waistline is also needed to make the fake belly look like a real one," he said.
"Many clients request us to keep their names secret while purchasing, and they even tell us to leave the 'item' option blank when filling out the information for delivery," said Wang.
Xue Liya from the Social Development Institute of Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences told China Daily that stress from infertility shouldn't be the only reason to explain why fake belly is so popular.
"There are plenty of reasons to explain such phenomenon," Xue said.
For example, some fathers in the United States and Japan wear them so they can grow along with their wives during pregnancy, and experience weight gain, breast enlargement and a kicking baby.
(Source: China Daily)