August 25, 2017 01:34 PM

A pregnant Chicago news anchor is standing strong against viewers who body shamed her for wearing a form-fitting dress.

Now in her eighth month of pregnancy, Kristen Nicole, co-anchor of Good Day Chicago on FOX32, says that three women sent her emails complaining that the sight of her baby bump was “offensive.”

“My pregnancy has been nothing but a blessing and a positive experience since day one,” Nicole, 35, tells PEOPLE. “I hadn’t heard a single negative comment until Wednesday.”

Nicole was shocked by the sudden outpouring of criticism.

“I thought, ‘What’s going on? Where is this coming from?’ I found it sad that three people went to the trouble to write something hateful and push ‘send,’ especially in light of the important issues of the day.”

Although she was tempted to brush off the criticism at first, as the day wore on, she began to feel irritated. 

“My alarm goes off every morning at 1:45, and I’m on the set by 4 a.m.,” says Nicole, who moved to Chicago a year and a half ago from Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband, Brock, a medical supplies salesman, and her son, Colton, 9.

“I work my tail off, and this is what they choose to focus on?” she asks. “It’s not my style to get down on people who troll me on the internet, but this bothered me. I know that I’m not the first one to be body shamed — women unfortunately have to deal with this kind of thing at work every day. So I decided to respond.”

RELATED VIDEO: Telemundo Host and Cancer Survivor Responds to Body Shaming After Posing in Swimsuit

 

Nicole decided to post a statement on her Facebook page, along with a series of photos showing her wearing the same blue dress in August 2016, when she wasn’t pregnant, to now, at 8 months pregnant.

“Let me save you some trouble: My email address is Kristen.Nicole@foxtv.com, but if you’re writing to tell me that you’re offended by the sight of my baby bump, don’t hold your breath waiting for a response. It’s not coming. I wear this dress probably once a month. No one has EVER had a problem with it. Wear it almost 8 months pregnant? Whoa … disgusting, right? (Insert massive eye roll).”

“To Karen, Gene and Sabrina who wrote to me today, use your time better. Pay someone a compliment. Do a good deed. To everyone who has sent messages of congratulations and well wishes, you are keeping me motivated through these last 6 weeks. We’re finally in the home stretch! I have a healthy, comfortable, stress-free pregnancy. My husband, son and I are beyond excited to meet our new addition. Thank you for being a part of our journey! xoxo.” 

Nicole’s comments now have over 2,400 likes, but more importantly, she says, “I hope people take away that it’s not fair to body shame women for any reason, especially when they’re going through the most wonderful time of their lives.”

And overwhelming support from people around the world has boosted her spirits, says Nicole, especially comments from fathers who tell her that they’re trying to instill the same “stay strong” example in their daughters. 

“It reminds me of what my dad used to tell me: ‘Don’t get in the mud and roll with the pigs,’ ” she tells PEOPLE. “It doesn’t matter what’s going on in the dark spots of the internet. It’s wonderful to see people cheering me on the entire way.”

On Thursday, hoping to add some humor to the situation, Nicole wrapped a sheet around her body like a toga and proudly wore it on set.

“I choose to laugh,” she says, “because I know that on Oct. 5, when I have a C-section and I’m holding my new little man in my arms, none of this will matter. It will all seem ridiculous to me. But you can bet that no matter what, I’ll be having that dress taken in and will wear it again.”

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