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
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.
The untold story of June Bacon-Bercey, the 1st American woman to become a TV meteorologist
Blazing trails and forecasting big storms -- it's all in a day's work for this TV meteorologist
How Pi Day became synonymous with women's empowerment through STEM
'Tell the weather girl to shut up:' Trolls barrage TV meteorologist with abuse after she interrupted popular show for storm warnings
Meteorologists explain why we should ditch the outdated term 'weather girl'
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.
.@beckyditchfield Just saw you on #3rdHourTODAY. I'm so proud of your accomplishments and the confidence you exude. Haters are gonna hate, but keep doing what you do and I can't wait to see your new bundle of joy in the coming weeks and months. #9News #9WX #HeyNext— Tony Wright (@TonyTyme) March 29, 2019
She also normalized talking about the realities of high-risk pregnancy, spoke openly about how therapy is helpful, and didnt flinch from publically saying she gave herself time to cry. All things that people have traditionally tried to hide . #FeministIcon— CaseyNP (@Caseyphyt) March 29, 2019
“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."
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.
A meteorologist is getting shamed for being pregnant on-air, one viewer going as far as to tell her she's blocking too much of the weather map.— TODAY (@TODAYshow) March 29, 2019
So, @beckyditchfield responded by bringing a measuring tape to work to measure the actual size of her belly. She joins us live. pic.twitter.com/KLByMaNo2V
Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.
More Weather News
These 2 EMTs drove their ambulance into an EF3 tornado and survived -- and they have the video to prove it
Weather News - April 23, 2019, 9:06:23 PM EDT
They're lucky to be alive after driving 'into the heart of the tornado,' which a look at their vehicle after the ordeal confirms.
Weather News - April 23, 2019, 1:25:13 PM EDT
Temperatures in Coachella on Friday were in the 90s, and the discovery a homeless man made that day was the difference between life and death, officials say.
Weather News - April 23, 2019, 12:02:28 PM EDT
The hottest days of the year will grip much of central and northern India in the coming days, and this heat wave is unlikely to end anytime soon.
Weather News - April 23, 2019, 2:06:33 PM EDT
As the excitement builds for the NFL Draft 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee, from Thursday to Saturday, the weather may have other plans for the first round.
Weather News - April 23, 2019, 11:37:58 AM EDT
Heavy rainfall caused deadly flooding and turned roadways into raging rivers in parts of eastern South Africa Monday night into Tuesday.
Weather News - April 23, 2019, 10:42:38 AM EDT
A new tropical threat in the southern Indian Ocean may bring life-threatening weather to parts of Mozambique and Tanzania later this week.
Weather News - April 23, 2019, 8:47:39 PM EDT
While a severe weather outbreak is not expected, heavy, gusty thunderstorms will stretch from the eastern Great Lakes to the central Appalachians and part of the Ohio Valley into Tuesday evening.