This Pregnant Endurance Athlete Has An Amazing Body-Positive Message

There's no such thing as a "normal" pregnant belly, and Brittany Aäe was tired of people telling her that her body was "too small." The endurance athlete and coach took to Instagram to fire back at critics who had a problem with the fact that her abs were still visible at 39 weeks pregnant. Aäe posted a photo of herself side-by-side with plus-size model Tess Holliday, noting that although she and Holliday have different body types and looked different at their respective 39-week points, both were targets of body shaming. "In this image these two women are at about the same stage in their pregnancies — 39 weeks," she captioned the post. "Both of us are shamed for our size — she for her roundness and me for my smallness." Aäe, who documented her professional training and exercise regimen throughout her pregnancy on her blog, as well as on Instagram, questions the ways in which society criticizes women based on narrow ideas of what their bodies should look like. "Why does our society shame women whose bodies do not adhere to some narrow notion of false normalcy?" she asks.
"I am a big fangirl of Tess's — she's gorgeous, and she is intelligent, and I realized that we were at this same stage of our pregnancies and people were shaming both of us for our sizes," she told Elle, explaining that she posted the photos because she was tired of "the general idea that women's bodies are somehow public property." Ultimately, she tells Elle, her goal was also to dispel the "fear-based" narrative about working out while pregnant. "The female body is the ultimate endurance athlete. People were just not thinking about pregnancy like that," she said. "They were thinking about it in terms of a symptomatic experience, and not one of growth. I want to share this really positive, supportive experience with people, while communicating that this is possible for anyone." Aäe, who has since given birth, added: "I knew there would be a lot of athletes out there looking for a positive story." Although the photo was posted a month ago, it's still going viral, which speaks to how much it resonates with people. After all, Aäe is right: There's no such thing as a "normal" body, let alone a normal pregnant body.

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