Fed up with the unrealistic images of women’s bodies she saw in popular media, a new mom decided to share a photo of her own.
Abigail Wedlake posted a photo of her postpartum body on Instagram in late April. In the image, the mom holds her 4-month-old daughter, Aubrey, next to the stretch marks on her midsection.
”A mark for every breath you took, every blink, every sleepy yawn,” she wrote in the caption. “One for every time you sucked your thumb and slept in perfect darkness. One for every dream you dreamt. It was your home and where I grew to love you. I’ve earned my stripes and am embracing them more and more everyday. Postpartum bodies are different but show the beauty of being given the chance to bring life into this world.”
The post received over 15,000 likes.
Wedlake told HuffPost she decided to post the photo because she was tired of only seeing images of “perfect plastic bodies.”
“I wanted other mothers to see that they are not alone ― that the loose skin and stretch marks are nothing to be ashamed of,” she said, adding that she struggled with body image during and after pregnancy.
“I got my stretch marks at about 36 weeks pregnant and was devastated, thinking I’d never be able to wear a bikini out in public,” Wedlake recalled. “That morning before I posted that picture, staring at the mirror holding my daughter, I realized that these are earned. I carried her for nine months and earned these stretch marks and the cesarean scar below them.”
She added, “If that is not the most beautiful thing, I don’t know what is.”
Wedlake hopes her post will spread awareness of what a normal postpartum body can look like. “We see pictures of fitness models snapping back from a pregnancy. But how many of us are fitness models?” she said. “It makes women think our bodies are not OK or not normal when they are. We as women are so hard on ourselves and are surrounded by these images of what the ‘perfect’ body is. When the perfect body is our body.”
Ultimately, she wants her photo to inspire women with and without children to embrace their perfectly imperfect bodies. She also hopes it sets the tone for the kind of message she wants to send her daughter.
“I will teach my daughter that we are all perfect and equal in our own unique ways!” Wedlake said. “That there are no boundaries to beauty. No matter what the media portrays as ‘perfect.’”