TV meteorologist pushes back after viewers shame her for being pregnant while on the air

By Amanda Schmidt, AccuWeather staff writer
April 04, 2019, 9:52:02 AM EDT

Broadcast Meteorologist Becky Ditchfield- Pregnancy backlash

Broadcast Meteorologist Becky Ditchfield was shamed for being pregnant on-air by trolls. (Twitter/KUSA via NBC's "Today" show)

Being on TV puts broadcasters in a particularly vulnerable position when it comes to trolls and negative social media comments.

Becky Ditchfield, a broadcast meteorologist for the NBC-affiliate KUSA-9News in Denver is the latest on-air forecaster to experience this ugly feedback. Ditchfield has been the recipient of harsh criticism from viewers who complained about her appearance on TV while being pregnant.

But Ditchfield has not only had the strength to confront the bullies in an empowering, clever on-air broadcast, she also has shown fortitude in sharing her struggles with a high-risk pregnancy and her mental health. That courage has received an overwhelmingly positive response from viewers as her experience has gone viral.

Trolls have hurled rude remarks at Ditchfield about her size and the type of maternity clothing that she has chosen to wear on the air. They have made mean comments, remarks that her belly sticks out too far and that it blocks too much of the weather map.

“I’ve tried buying those flowy dresses ... and I swear it looked like I was gonna be a big cruise ship coming on and taking up half the weather wall,” Ditchfield said during and appearing on NBC's "Today" show last week.

Negative comments from cyberbullies are nothing new to Ditchfield, she said in an email to AccuWeather.

“I have been pregnant on the air three times, and every time I have gotten negative comments as my belly got bigger. I knew that this was coming,” Ditchfield told AccuWeather.

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She said that while she normally tries to ignore the negative comments, there are time times that she feels she needs to stick up for herself.

“Every once in a long while, I feel the need to stand up for myself. It is not something that comes easy, but my gut usually tells me when it’s time,” Ditchfield said.

Ditchfield felt it was that time after one particularly cruel viewer went as far as to say that she looked like a “freak with her belly sticking out 2 miles.” The meteorologist responded to the comment in a Facebook post, in which she explained her decision to speak out and stand up to cyberbullies.

She specifically targeted the troll calling out her stomach for sticking out 2 miles. She brought a measuring tape to work to verify whether the comment was true, and to shut down the trolls.

“I was able to take that idea, bring some humor into it and explore how ridiculous the negative comments may or may not be,” Ditchfield explained to AccuWeather.

She measured her belly and used high-level math to break down the claim in relation to the weather map and the results disproved the troll's claim about her belly's size.

“I hold a B.S. in Meteorology with minors in math and broadcasting,” Ditchfield said. “I know that for the most part, you can’t argue with math!”

The Facebook post went viral racking up more than over 11,000 likes and 3,400 comments, and drawing an overwhelmingly positive response.

“Thank you, knowing that my family, my co-workers and you have my back means the world to me,” Ditchfield said during a live segment for her station on March 22, following the outpouring of support from viewers.

“Sometimes I feel like I feel too much to be in this business. Words like freak, disgusting and nauseating play off on my insecurities,” Ditchfield said, opening up in the broadcast.

She added that earlier that week, following negative comments, she locked herself in a private bathroom at work and allowed herself to cry.

Ditchfield went on to say that learning how to process her feelings and know what she needs to do to take back her power has taken many years of therapy to learn, sharing on on air that, "it’s not easy. But I am so glad I took the time to take care of my mental health."

"I wish I could force people to have more compassion, but the only person I can work on and change is myself. Never be ashamed to ask for help," Ditchfield said in the broadcast.

Ditchfield told the "Today" show hosts that the negative attention has added stress to her pregnancy, which is already high-risk because of a rare uterine malformation. The condition increases her chances of going into labor early.

“The last thing you want to worry about is what you’re wearing on TV and what people are thinking about how you look,” she told "Today."

Becky Ditchfield

Broadcast Meteorologist Becky Ditchfield speaks with NBC's "Today" show about her experience with trolls. (Twitter/NBC's "Today" show)

Ditchfield is far from the first female broadcast meteorologist to be trolled for her appearance on-air. Other female TV meteorologists have also fired back at trolls after being attacked.

Ditchfield hopes that young girls and other young broadcast meteorologists take care of their mental health.

“It’s not easy to just ignore negative comments, and it’s okay if they make you feel,” Ditchfield said. “Your response [to] the negativity will be different than mine. But if you learn to understand yourself, then you’ll know what is best for you and ultimately that is what you need to know when facing adversity.”

Below, watch her interview on the 'Today' show.

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