In March of 2015, mom of three Rachel Hollis shared an unfiltered photo of her “flabby” tummy exposed in a bikini on Facebook, along with a powerful message about postpartum body image. Now nearly two years after her post went viral, Hollis is sharing the same words to inspire even more mothers.
On Thursday, Hollis posted a new photo of herself in a bathing suit with a #TBT message.
Hollis, who runs the popular lifestyle blog The Chic Site, posted the original photo while on vacation in Mexico. So when she found herself traveling in Cabo San Lucas, she felt inspired to share another beach photo.
The caption was exactly the same:
I have stretch marks and I wear a bikini. I have a belly that’s permanently flabby from carrying three giant babies and I wear a bikini. My belly button is saggy... (which is something I didn’t even know was possible before!!) and I wear a bikini. I wear a bikini because I’m proud of this body and every mark on it. Those marks prove that I was blessed enough to carry my babies and that flabby tummy means I worked hard to lose what weight I could. I wear a bikini because the only man who’s opinion matters knows what I went through to look this way. That same man says he’s never seen anything sexier than my body, marks and all. They aren’t scars ladies, they’re stripes and you’ve earned them. Flaunt that body with pride!
The mom’s original post has received nearly 500,000 likes. Her second iteration is also resonating with parents and has reached over 25,000 likes and counting.
Hollis told The Huffington Post she hopes her post gives women a sense of encouragement about their own bodies. Citing the pressure moms in particular face, she explained, “There is the long list of things the media tells us we’re all supposed to aspire to: size zero, toned muscles, shiny hair, white teeth, Pinterest perfect houses and clothes ... and you need to pull all of this off while raising perfect children. It’s an impossibility.”
She continued, “More than that, its an extremely detrimental message because so many women believe that achieving those things is what will make them happy. When they don’t measure up in one (or all) of those ways, they begin to berate themselves and it becomes a never-ending cycle of negative self talk.”
Hollis wants women to feel empowered by her pride for her body, which doesn’t stem from what it looks like but rather what it has done for her. “My body has grown three beautiful babies and then found the strength to push them into the world,” she said.
“My body as carried me through marathons and held me up through seasons of trauma. My body has been every size and shape and through it all it has remained strong and powerful,” she added.
Ultimately, the mom feels fortunate that her body has “never failed” her ― a gift which so many other people don’t have.
“So I refuse to beat up my body for being something it’s not,” said Hollis. “And I refuse to hide it away because it doesn’t fit someone else’s ideal.”
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