ESPN sportscaster Molly McGrath is no stranger to online harassment. As a woman working in a male-dominated field for more than a decade, the former Boston College cheerleader has learned how to pick her battles with those who anonymously criticize her on social media. But that doesn’t mean she’s wholly immune to the occasional troll. And when one recently nearly got the best of her, she took to Instagram to put them (and any other haters) on blast.
“Last night I was on my feet for over 6 hours straight, in the rain, and knew that I would only get 3 hours of sleep because of a last second flight change. For the first time, maybe ever, I let a cruel troll tweet about the changes of my pregnant body get to me,” McGrath’s post began, which featured a photo of her on the job and visibly pregnant.
But the hurtful comment about her looks gave McGrath, who originally hails from San Francisco, some perspective too: “I am proud to be a pregnant woman working full-time and I am proud that the monstrosity of creating a human life has not, and will not, slow me down.”
Of course, what we post and how we feel, especially initially, about these types of situations aren’t always one and the same.
“I have pretty thick skin ... but this particular comment about my pregnant body made me angry,” McGrath tells Yahoo Life. It also made her wonder how the individual who posted the comment views and treats other women in their life.
“I felt that it was my responsibility to use this situation as an example and show women that they don’t have to be ashamed of their bodies, especially when they’re carrying life inside of them. It’s rare to see a pregnant woman on television, but shouldn’t television be a representation of the world we live in?” says McGrath.
Luckily, and despite being in such a male-oriented field, McGrath says that the response both from viewers and her employers, has been positive. She does share, however, that she waited until the last possible moment to announce her pregnancy as she was concerned about how it might affect her career.
“Especially now during the pandemic, women’s place in the workplace is threatened as more and more mothers are balancing work, childcare and even homeschooling. It’s been disheartening to see that just as it did decades ago, the household responsibilities fall solely on so many women, making a career nearly impossible,” McGrath says. She points to an issue she’s seen frequently among women in her field, often wearing baggy clothes or having cameras only shoot them from the chest up in order to keep their pregnancies hidden from the public eye. But McGrath says she’s been fortunate in having lots of support from her husband and bosses at ESPN in not having to hide her own baby bump.
“I don’t want women to hide anymore if they don’t want to. I want young women to see me on TV and know that you can have a successful career and a family,” she says.
McGrath reveals that she and husband Max Dorsch tried for a while to get pregnant, and that she’s been fortunate to have a healthy pregnancy experience. But she does confess that work has had some challenges.
“During a football game, a sideline reporter will walk about 6 to 8 miles, depending on player injuries and the momentum of the game. I don’t even remember that I’m pregnant that entire time until the game ends and my adrenaline dies down. Then I can hardly walk because my feet are so sore and my lower back is killing me. ... But I wouldn’t trade [this] for the world,” she says. She also attributes her own passion to be a working mother to those who came before her, including her own mother (who worked as a nurse most of her childhood) as well as other female sports broadcasters like Shannon Spake, Kris Budden, Laura Rutledge and Allison Williams.
“They inspire me every day and give me confidence that I, too, could have both a career and a family. I’m just hoping that I can pay it forward and do the same for other women in the industry,” she says.
As for the trolls, McGrath put it best in her post: “Women are freaking incredible and powerful and anyone who doesn’t see that can kiss my big achey butt.”
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