Early last week, Laura Warren, a news anchor for WRDW of Augusta, Georgia, received a voicemail from a woman telling her to cover her pregnancy belly with looser clothes, Allure reports.
No, this is not a drill.
Warren is 2o weeks pregnant and dared, for some unfathomable reason, to wear her usual wardrobe of body con sheath dresses on air. Confused? It's okay, we didn't get the memo that having a visible Miracle of Life™ was offensive either.
But according to one viewer of Warren's evening news segment, it is. The woman left Warren a message telling her to "buy some decent maternity clothes so you don't walk around looking like you got a watermelon strapped under your too-tight outfits."
"Target's got a great line of maternity clothes in case you've never heard of such a thing. You're getting to where you're being disgusting on the TV," the voicemail continued.
So now women are telling other women how tightly to dress their baby bumps? There's nothing wrong with wearing huge, flowing maternity dresses, but the idea that baggy clothes are the only acceptable maternity wear needs to go. Buying a whole new wardrobe just for your pregnancy can be expensive (and it might not be necessary at all.)
In response to the message, the anchor took to her blog, "Bump, Baby, and Breaking News," on which she chronicles her experience as a pregnant broadcast journalist and the insecurities it can bring. "Being pregnant is already one of the most emotional, insecure times of your life," Warren's post begins. "Am I gaining too much weight? Am I gaining enough weight? Is my bump too high? Is my bump too low? Are these breakouts ever going to end? Is this pregnancy making my hair dull? Why are my nail beds doing this weird thing?"
Being a woman and a journalist is no easy feat to begin with — women are often underestimated and judged as beauty objects rather than professionals and subject to overwhelmingly sexist and misogynistic treatment. Add broadcasting to the equation, and every aspect of their appearance is available for public scrutiny.
But those tough circumstances make for resilient women. Normally, Warren says, she'd just delete the message. "Unfortunately, I'm pregnant, hormonal, currently not allowed to drink wine, and feeling extra in touch with my feminist side," she (relatably) continued. Warren acknowledged that one negative comment can be enough to get her down these days. "We are living in a culture tolerating, often even encouraging bullies. Politicians, angry Democrats and Republicans, anonymous keyboard warriors, social media bullies....How do we teach our kids to be kind when adults all around them can say such cruel things?"
Nonetheless, the anchor is keeping her head high. "I'm just going to turn her negative energy into positive energy. I'm going to say as many nice things as I can to as many people as I can, and I'm going to do it in a dress that fits these beautiful new curves with my 'watermelon' stomach showing."
Warren says she received feedback from countless women who experienced the same brand of criticism and tells Refinery29 that it "really reaffirms my faith about how many kind people there are in the world."
"Part of the reason I wrote that blog is to get a discussion going about how easy it is for us all to hang on and dwell on that ONE negative comment, instead of a whole sea of positive ones [...] I wanted this to be a reminder that your words have such power," she says.
Warren defines maternity wear as "whatever makes you feel the most confident and beautiful. For me, that's something that 'hugs' my bump." The anchor and her husband previously went through a miscarriage, "so this pregnancy is something to celebrate! I'm so excited and thankful to be pregnant. Why would I hide that?"
Let's take this moment to remind ourselves that no one benefits from women dragging other women down, especially for the way they dress. Covered, left totally naked, or otherwise, how to clothe a pregnancy belly is not anyone's business but the one whose body is attached to said bump.
Welcome to Mothership: Parenting stories you actually want to read, whether you're thinking about or passing on kids, from egg-freezing to taking home baby and beyond. Because motherhood is a big if — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.
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