When Kris Budden was pregnant and working as a sports reporter for Fox San Diego she didn’t chronicle her growing baby bump on Instagram. Instead, she went to great lengths to conceal her belly.
“I went through an entire football season wearing baggy clothes and heavy coats trying to hide it,” Budden wrote in a lengthy blog post published on Thursday, August 10. “I never brought it up to the players and coaches I was covering.”
The 33-year-old on-air personality went on to explain that women in sports feel pressure to look a certain way. “You feel you you have to be pretty, skinny, best-dressed, ageless,” Budden revealed. “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 . . . like I did. Like I was old.”
She continued: “It’s no secret that there aren’t many women in sports in their 40s. Maybe I thought that becoming a mom would put me ‘over the hill’ in TV age. that it meant I reached the peak of my career and everything after that was downhill.”
And yet, when Budden and her husband, Mario Toledo, relocated from San Diego to L.A., she was hired by the Tennis Channel at 32 weeks pregnant. Later, ESPN offered Budden her current job as sideline reporter for college football just six weeks after welcoming her son, Jace, who is now 17 months old.
“I didn’t know it at the time, but having a child has made me a better reporter,” Budden shared. “I can relate to the moms watching their sons get injured on the field. I can relate to the coaches who miss out on dinners and weekends with their families. I have more in common now with the people I cover than I did before.”
Budden’s post resonated with working women everywhere. “They said they have the same fears I had,” Budden exclusively tells Us Weekly. “I think it’s something women in all jobs deal with. It wasn’t just about my looks. I also was afraid my bosses would question my commitment to my career.”
Though Budden regrets hiding her pregnancy, she understands where the insecurity came from. “I know several women who feel they were phased out of the industry because they were getting older,” she tells Us. “That’s why it was hard to be upfront about becoming a mom. I felt like it was publicly saying I was old. And Botox and hair dye can’t change that.”