Brittany Aäe, a mountain runner and endurance coach, was criticized by people who thought her pregnant body was unhealthy because she still had defined abs at 39 weeks. A fan of plus-size model and activist Tess Holliday who has also been criticized while pregnant, Brittany realized that many soon-to-be mothers experience body shaming, regardless of size and shape. In an effort to call out these unwanted advice-givers, Aäe posted a side-by-side shot of her and Tess, both at 39 weeks.
“She is a voluptuous model and I am a sinewy mountain athlete,” Aäe captioned in the pic. “Both of us are shamed for our size — she for her roundness and me for my smallness.” Aäe also pointed out that both of the women’s healthcare providers confirmed they were having healthy pregnancies. “Why does our society shame women whose bodies do not adhere to some narrow notion of false normalcy?” she asked. “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 further explained the reason for her post in an interview with Elle. “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,” Aäe told the publication. She also said she was tired of “the general idea that women’s bodies are somehow public property.”
Aäe’s decision to defend herself and pregnant women everywhere with such a poignant post has already proven to be helpful, with other women sharing their own experiences in the comments. “The baby being healthy is all that matters,” one person wrote. “People ALWAYS commented on my size when I was pregnant. I steered their comments away to the healthy baby inside me.” Another added, “I don’t know why people think they need to spew their opinions (and grab bellies) when we’re pregnant. It’s OUR body and OUR journey, we’ll make our choices.”
Aäe has also thoroughly documented her experiences both on Instagram and her blog, Magnetic North, to prove you can safely exercise throughout pregnancy — something she has also been criticized for. “My body is not just a fetus carrier. I am also another being,” she explained to Elle. “I knew there would be a lot of athletes out there looking for a positive story.”