"Women have no control over their bump, including myself" the 22-year-old explains
Belle Lucia
Credit: Belle Lucia/Instagram

When model Belle Lucia found out that she was pregnant at the beginning of the year, she could barely wait to share the happy news “with the world!”

“I found out about my pregnancy extremely early on, at just two and a half weeks,” Lucia, 22, tells PEOPLE. “This made the 14-week wait feel like forever. It was a secret I couldn’t hold onto any longer.”

Once she did, at the beginning of April, Lucia was thrilled with the women and men who reacted “with so much kindness towards my pregnancy.” But she also found herself wading through rude messages demanding to know why her baby bump was so small.

“[The] majority of everyone’s comments have been positive, but a small handful have been quite hurtful and negative,” she says. “But I believe the people behind sending cruel messages only reflects their own character. So I just feel sorry for them as they must be going through something terrible within themselves to be sending a random hateful messages.”

The pointed comments and accusations about the size of her bump led Lucia to speak out on her Instagram page.

“I wanted to make it clear that women have no control over their bump, including myself,” she says. “Women’s bumps show at all different stages and come in a variety of shapes and it’s never okay to criticize a woman’s bump whether that be too big or small.”

Lucia explains that a woman’s physical shape affects how they carry.

“Some women have a retroverted uterus — where the baby grows towards the back — and other women have had previous pregnancies so they show earlier on,” she says. “Also, how the baby is positioned also effects the size of a woman’s bump which again is out of her control.”

To prove her point, whenever Lucia shared her weekly bump updates in her Instagram story, she would include photos of women at the same stage of pregnancy, all with differently-sized stomachs.

“People send me messages saying how amazed they are that women can look so different at the same stage in their pregnancy,” she says of the reaction to her posts. “It’s definitely opened lots of eyes into showing how unique each pregnancy is.”

Belle Lucia
Belle Lucia

Lucia, who says she “always dreamt of becoming a mother” and “never felt more ready in my life” for a baby with her partner, wants to keep working as long as she can.

“I plan on working and modeling maternity right up to my due date, if my body allows me,” she says. “So far my pregnancy has been very easy for me — the hardest part is the anxiety and worrying if everything is okay with baby, but that’s all in my head!”

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She also wants to use her platform to help people to understand that every pregnancy looks different.

“It’s a wonderful experience but it’s also a very personal experience, as it’s different for every woman,” she says. “Whilst some women go through it with a breeze, some women also suffer greatly throughout. It really depends on the individual.”