Former Fox Sports reporter Kris Budden says she hid her pregnancy on TV because of the perception that women in the media need to be “pretty, skinny, best-dressed, ageless.”
“I went through an entire football season wearing baggy clothes and heavy coats trying to hide it,” Budden wrote on her blog. “I never brought it up to the players and coaches I was covering. I don’t know how to describe the feeling other than to say I was embarrassed. I know, that’s a horrible thing to say. I hate myself for even typing that.”
She added that there are unrealistic beauty standards in the industry, writing, “In TV, especially as a woman in sports, you feel that you have to be pretty, skinny, best-dressed, ageless. Yes, I know my job is so much more than that, but you do feel pressure to look a certain way … I also felt like there was a certain perception about female sideline reporters. I thought that if people knew I was a mom, the viewers would look at me differently. They would look at me like… like I did. Like I was old.”
Budden was a reporter for FOX Sports San Diego covering the Padres until last year. She is now the ESPN college football sideline correspondent.
Later on in her blog post, Budden said that she was hired by Tennis Channel on the spot while 32 weeks pregnant in 2015 and was in talks with ESPN at the same time, which offered her a job six weeks after her son was born.
“I was wrong. People didn’t hire me because I was a cookie-cutter, blond, skinny female who knew sports. They hired me because I was dang good at my job,” she said. “I looked back at it now and I feel incredibly naive and stupid about it all. I’m at a company with the top reporters in our industry. Some are moms. Some aren’t. Regardless, they all got there on merit. Not looks or their age. So why did I think my case would be different?”
She added that she regrets having felt “ashamed” for being pregnant with her son and hopes that her post will inspire women to not worry about how starting a family will affect their career.
“The majority of viewers and bosses in this industry will not judge you based on your age and the number of children you have,” she wrote. “And don’t concern yourself with the ones that do. They don’t hold a cup of tea in comparison to the love you’ll have for your family.”