Women should support pregnant TV weather forecaster

YO, WHERE'S the sisterhood?

I don't expect a lot of men to be all that supportive of the unique challenges expectant mothers face. That's not their issue.

But I am surprised at the number of women online who've been giving CBS3's Katie Fehlinger a hard time, with one even calling her a "sausage in casing." It's the Mommy Wars all over again, but with a twist.

What they're doing to Fehlinger is called pregnancy shaming, and it's been happening ever since the TV meteorologist's pregnancy first became noticeable at the two-month mark. I don't know how she did it, but for months, Fehlinger ignored the comments from viewers about her weight gain.

Then, last week something inside her snapped and Fehlinger pushed back with a Facebook post that has since gone viral. "Frankly, I don't care how 'terrible' or 'inappropriate' anyone thinks I look," she wrote.

As of last night, that Facebook posting had attracted more than 80,000 likes and had been shared more than 6,000 times. Stories about Fehlinger have appeared on NBC's "Today" show, Britain's Daily Mail, the New York Daily News, People online, the Huffington Post and on the front page of this newspaper. Much of it has been positive. Women have been tweeting photos of their baby bumps in support of Fehlinger.

"Whew, a whirlwind of a weekend! I have to say it again - just can't believe the outpouring of (now) worldwide support for ALL moms out there," Fehlinger posted on Facebook early yesterday.

That's been beautiful to see.

But the negative stuff makes you wonder if people so grossed out by Fehlinger's pregnancy forgot how they got here.

The Daily News' front-page column about Fehlinger, who's scheduled to give birth to twin girls next month, attracted around 500 comments on Philly.com - with a lot of readers, many of them presumably male, being outright rude and expressing revulsion at her matronly state. Some emailed me directly writing hurtful things such as, "I saw the blimp on the cover of Saturday's paper and was looking for the Goodyear or Met Life logo. She should have been off the air three months ago."

Female online commenters were kinder. The caustic ones I noticed often directed their ire not so much at her presence on TV but at her fashion choices. Like many fashionable modern women these days, she doesn't try to hide her expansive baby bump, and apparently some people find that annoying.

"Yes, pregnancy is beautiful and we're all being terribly appropriate and politically correct and saying all the right things. But what's the deal with these tight, stretchy fabrics that DO make women look like boa constrictors right after a hefty meal?" one woman wrote on Philly.com. "Why not wear something elegant, flowing and tasteful that doesn't necessarily hug the body like a glove? Spandex is unkind to most of us, but especially to preggies. So how about a little more fabric and a little less Spandex?"

Here's what a woman on Yahoo Parenting wrote: "Personally, I would never have worn the clothes that women wear today that expose the whole pregnant belly. I am more of a private person, so I wore over-sized blouses and shirts."

A woman named "Clarissa" wrote: "The younger crowd seem to enjoy everyone seeing their baby bellys . . . But that's what they all do now, put the smallest clothes you can find on."

"Lisa" wrote: "She could have chosen more flattering clothes for the last trimester-i.e. take a lead from Kate Middleton."

Yesterday, I spoke with the style director at Destination Maternity - parent company for A Pea in the Pod and Motherhood Maternity - who confirmed that Fehlinger is following the trend and is on point in terms of her style.

"Styles have definitely changed," Olivia Capone Myers told me. "Certainly, in the last decade, we've moved toward women embracing their bumps."

"It's a style preference, really," she added. "I think it's unfair that there's maybe some negative judgments."

Women need to be more supportive of each other, especially in the workplace. Instead, there's always so much backbiting over silly stuff.

As Lisa Hayes, director for Fashion Design at the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University, pointed out in an email, "It is 2015, you know."

"I am really surprised that this is a topic of conversation . . . Are these comments really coming now leading up to an election year where we may be looking at two female candidates for America's highest office?"

Holly Geitner, who tweeted Fehlinger a photo of her baby bump, agreed: "I just don't feel like it's anybody's place to say something."

Then she added, "Mind your own business."

That's good advice.

On Twitter: @JeniceArmstrong

Blog: ph.ly/HeyJen