Stretch marks are common for those who have gone through pregnancy — and even for those who haven't. That being said, they can still be a source of self-consciousness for many of us.
Artist and new mom Abagail Wedlake, however, isn't about to let the idea of a "perfect" post-baby body pressure her into feeling ashamed of her body. Since giving birth to her baby, Wedlake has been open about the stretch marks that she's earned, and why she won't hide them.
Wedlake has been documenting her body's changes on her Instagram page, where she has posted several photos of her daughter alongside her belly.
More recently, she has shared a poem by Cassie Fox, called "Birthmarks."
"A mark for every breath you took, every blink, every sleepy yawn," she wrote in the caption for one photo. "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," she added.
In other posts, Wedlake shut down the prevailing belief that stretch marks like hers are flaws — rather, they're a reminder of your strength and resilience, and of what your body has done for you.
"Let us make pregnancy an occasion when we appreciate our female bodies during and after, not hide them," she wrote in another post.
Moreover, they're a reminder of the fact that she brought her daughter into the world.
"The love of my life," she wrote alongside another photo. "We give up our bodies to create our children, our bodies change and gain perfect imperfections that we should be celebrating not shaming."
"Women are amazingly powerful creatures," she added. "Stop the body shaming."
Wedlake's posts are simple but important reminders of how strong our bodies are — and that instead of shaming them, we should be celebrating what they've gotten us through. After all, our bodies aren't ruined after pregnancy, nor are they ruined because we have something that a lot of people still see as a flaw. After all, as body-positive hero Danielle Brooks says, stretch marks are the "road map" of your strength.
Welcome to Mothership: Parenting stories you actually want to read, whether you're thinking about or passing on kids, from egg-freezing to taking home baby and beyond. Because motherhood is a big if — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.