Pregnant Athlete Reminds Us No One Is Immune To Body Shaming

by Ashley Austrew
Originally Published: 
Image via Instagram

This athlete called out people who shame pregnant women’s bodies

When a woman gets pregnant, it seems like everyone in the world suddenly has something to say about her size, shape, diet, or workout regimen. Women are either too big, too thin, eating too much, or burning too many calories. One pregnant athlete was sick and tired of getting body-shamed on her Instagram photos, so she fired back at critics with an inspiring comparison photo that will make anyone think twice before concern-trolling an expectant mom.

Brittany Aäe is an endurance athlete and brand new mom who says she was shamed by strangers on social media for working out, being thin, and still having visible abdominal muscles at 39 weeks pregnant. She thought maybe it was only happening to her, but then she saw the same kind of negativity and body-shaming directed at plus-size model Tess Holliday’s pregnancy photos, and she realized women cannot fucking win, no matter what size they are.

Rather than accept the shaming, Aäe decided to speak out. She posted her 39-week “baby bump” photo alongside a photo of Tess Holliday at around the same point in her pregnancy. In the photo’s caption, she questioned our rigid body standards and made a strong argument for why people should just shut up and mind their own business about pregnant women’s bodies.

“In this image these two women are at about the same stage in their pregnancies – 39 weeks,” wrote Aäe. “That is the gorgeous Tess Holliday looking boss on the left, and me with the defined abs on the right. She is a voluptuous model and I am a sinewy mountain athlete. Both of us are shamed for our size.”

Aäe said that regardless of the size of their bodies, both women are healthy, and strangers shouldn’t put them down just because they don’t look like a pregnant stock photo model in a copy of a magazine. “Both of us are having or had healthy pregnancies as validated by our healthcare providers. Both of us are making empowered choices about our personal health,” she wrote. “Why does our society shame women whose bodies do not adhere to some narrow notion of false normalcy?”

Most pregnant bodies do not fit our societal ideal. We all carry our pregnant bellies differently, gain more or less weight than other people, and experience totally different symptoms. When you flip through a copy of US Weekly and see Emily Blunt or Blake Lively sporting a perfectly round belly on a tiny frame, that’s nice for them, but that’s not a goal to which every woman should aspire. There’s no reason why we should expect every single woman to look exactly the same when we all have wildly different body types.

In an interview with Elle, Aäe said she deeply admires Tess Holliday and posted the comparison photos because she’s tired of “the general idea that women’s bodies are somehow public property.” She explained, “My body is not just a fetus carrier. I am also another being.”

Every woman is more than capable of managing her own health, weight, and body, and the simple act of being pregnant shouldn’t open us up to unwanted and unnecessary scrutiny. As a society, we should be able to accept and celebrate all body types — or, at the very least, keep our mouths closed. As Aäe put it in her post, “Let’s keep our thoughts and words about other people’s size to ourselves. Pregnancy is tough enough without also being body shamed.”

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