Ashlee Baracy, 34, of WBNS in Columbus was overjoyed when she realized that she was pregnant with her first child, which is expected to arrive next month. However, soon after that brief moment of happiness, Baracy felt a sense of dread.
“The sad part is the second I found out I was pregnant, I knew I would have to deal with criticism of my body by viewers,” Baracy told The Columbus Dispatch. “I’ve been around the business long enough, and I’ve seen colleagues go through that.”
After Baracy announced her pregnancy on the air in February, the unwanted comments filled her email's inbox and social media accounts.
During such an important moment in her life, viewers sent her messages like, “Pregnant or not, buy bigger clothes!!! You look bloated and uncomfortable ... It is not likely your dresses will survive another 20 weeks of pregnancy weight.” And, “Ashley, you are really putting on weight. Watch your heart."
Instead of letting the hateful comments get to her, the former Miss Michigan of 2008 took to social media to publicly call out the body-shamers.
"The best is when someone like 'Clay Walker' submits hate mail with an invalid email and disconnected phone number," Baracy wrote in one Facebook post, pointing out the cowardly act. "My weight gain is normal, my blood pressure is perfect ... BLESS your heart 'Clay,' because Lord knows you will need all the blessings you can get when you meet the Lord some day at the pearly white gates."
“If I can use my voice to make things better, I will do that,” Baracy told the newspaper. “I hope this is a platform where we can talk more about it, because there are many women who deal with it.”
Baracy said that she is thankful for all of the positive support she has received from viewers and her husband, Jeff Kunkel.
“Now that I’m going to be a mom, I want my child to be confident in their skin,” Baracy said. “Kids shouldn’t look at someone on TV and hear their parents say, `She looks fat,′ because what might they think when they look in the mirror?”
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