It's hard to say what women are told to worry about more — their "bikini bodies" or their "post-baby bodies." What happens when you dare to ignore the impossible standards surrounding both of these ideals and go to the beach wearing (gasp!) a swimsuit anyway? Tannis Jex-Blake, a mother of five, found out just how seriously some people take these unrealistic standards of beauty.
Last week, Jex-Blake tried sunbathing for the first time in 13 years. Her experience was so upsetting that she took to Facebook to recount how complete strangers treated her: "I'm sorry if my 33-year-old, 125-lb body offended you so much that you felt [like] pointing, laughing, and pretending to kick me." She made sure to point out the immaturity of shaming a woman on the beach, too: "I'm NOT sorry that my body has housed, grown, protected, and birthed and nurtured FIVE fabulous, healthy, intelligent, and wonderful human beings."
After posting her story online, an outpouring of support from other women with equally "imperfect" bodies appeared in the comments section. They uploaded photos of their own post-baby bodies, reminding Tannis to be proud of her "tummy" and "tiger stripes" (stretch marks) and to tell anyone else who tries bringing her down, "If you don't like it, don't look!" The idea that pregnancy "ruins" women's bodies has been around for way too long. Why don't we talk more about pregnancy and childbearing as great examples of how strong women's bodies can be? Hopefully, for Jex-Blake and so many other women who have had to deal with foolish, body-shaming behavior (even from total strangers), this change is on the way.