Another day, another woman made to feel bad about her body.
Brittany Aäe is pregnant with her first child. She’s also a mountain runner and an endurance coach.
Like many women, she shares regular images of her pregnancy journey on social media, along with snaps of herself running, hiking and rock climbing.
After posting one particular bump picture, she received comments calling her “unhealthy” – because she happened to still have defined abs at 39 weeks along.
Aäe is having none of it – and has shared an important message for anyone who has publicly judged pregnant women’s bodies.
in this image these two women are at about the same stage in their pregnancies – 39 weeks. that is the gorgeous @tessholliday 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 – she for her roundness and me for my smallness. 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. ✨why does our society shame women whose bodies do not adhere to some narrow notion of false normalcy? ✨ let’s instead keep our thoughts and words about other people’s size to ourselves. pregnancy is tough enough without also being body shamed. #effyourbeautystandards #momshameAdvertisement
“In this image these two women are at about the same stage in their pregnanies – 39 weeks. That is the gorgeous Tess Holliday looking boss on the left and me with a defined abs on the right. She is a voluptuous model and I am a sinewy mountain athlete,” she wrote alongside a photo of both of them.
“Both of us are shamed for our size – she for her roundness and me for my smallness. 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.
“Why does our society shame women whose bodies do not adhere to the narrow notion of false normalcy? Let’s instead keep our thoughts and words about other people’s size to ourselves. Pregnancy is tough enough without also being body shamed.”
Aäe is spot on. Pregnancy is hard enough with, you know, creating, growing and nurturing a human being, having impossible cravings, hormones all over the place and exhaustion, without having to worry about what every man and his dog in the street thinks about how you look.
Watch: Five things they don’t tell you about pregnancy. Post continues after video.
As Aäe says, the only opinion that should matter is the one of your qualified health professional, and your own.
The rest of the voices chiming in and the accompanying pressure need to stop — largely because there’s not even such thing as a ‘normal’ way to look when pregnant.
“Of course our society would say that a ‘nice cute protruding belly’ is fine. Even comments such as ‘You are glowing’ make us feel pressured to look a certain way when pregnant. The reality is that every woman and every body is different and each body reacts differently when pregnant,” says psychologist Leanne Hall. (Post continues after gallery.)
“Some women gain quite a lot of weight, others don’t. The main thing is that you are healthy and focus on nurturing both yourself and your growing bub.”
A change in attitude is desperately needed.
“People need to view others photos and pregnancies without judgement … and by focusing on what an amazing thing it is to grow a life and give birth,” says Hall.
“Don’t judge, encourage acceptance and embrace diversity. Focus on health.”
Pregnant or not, it’s advice we can all benefit from and take on board.
Were you body shamed during pregnancy?
Featured image: Instagram/@_magneticnorth