A week and a half ago I was on a weekend getaway to Cancun with my husband and I wanted to get a picture of my new bikini top for my Instagram. I asked Dave to take some pictures of me on the beach and in my first attempt at modeling a swimsuit I look super awkward in 99% of them. In fact, the photo above is the one when I started laughing about how ridiculous I felt. When I decided to post it I considered zooming in to cut out my stomach but then I realized I hadn’t ever seen another mom on social media show off her stretch marks… and surely I’m not the only one who has them, right? So I left them in along with the caption below.
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!
At the time I thought some of the other mothers who follow me on social media would appreciate the sentiment. I pressed send and then Dave and I ordered iced teas and guacamole and settled in to enjoy a rare weekend away from our boys. A little while later I decided to check The Chic Site’s Facebook page… and well, I may or may not have choked on a tortilla chip. Almost instantly the post started to get attention. Within half an hour it had already passed 1,000 likes. You guys, we post things all the time that get, like, maybe seventeen clicks so this was mind boggling to me. And then the pictures started to roll in. Women and men from all over the world started posting their own gorgeous photos and I was so inspired! I was inspired because people were being so real and so honest. They were encouraging each other, and commenting and sharing stories. It was a beautiful thing to see. Especially beautiful because typically people are insecure about the scars they carry. Some scars are from pregnancy, others from cancer or burns or the loss of a limb and they’re afraid to show them because it makes them feel different. But if anything, our scars should connect us. Our scars are something we should show to the world because in doing so, we’ll find a community of other beautifully scarred people to walk through this life with. Scars are nothing to be ashamed of, your scars, regardless of which kind they are, are just a physical reminder that you are a warrior. Your scars are a physical reminder that you lived through something difficult and were blessed enough to come out the other side stronger than you were before. This is something to be celebrated, not hidden!
As of today, a little over a week after posting my bikini picture, it’s been seen by 19 Million people, Liked 461,000+ times, and has nearly 16,000 comments. The story was covered by The Today Show, People, Us Weekly, Buzzfeed, Huffington and even CNN… CNN guys! Every time a reporter asks me what I think about what I’ve done I shake my head in shock. This isn’t something I’ve done, this is something you’ve done. People from every part of the world, of every size, shape, and age are posting their photo. By doing so they’re saying that they’re proud of their body and grateful for what it’s carried them through. Do you see the power in this? They’re not saying I’ll love my body when I lose ten pounds or I loved my body fifteen years ago they’re saying right now, today this is the real me and the real me is beautiful!
If you agree with the idea, consider posting your own beautiful photo of your own beautiful scars and tag it #RealAndChic so we can see too. Or read through those 16,000 comments on our Facebook page and be inspired by the message behind them. That message, the one I hope you take away from this, is that we, no matter who we are or where we come from, are beautiful just as we are. I love the line from the Lady Gaga song “… cause God makes no mistakes.” You are wonderfully made. Not five years ago or fifty pounds less, not without your marks, not with shinier hair or whiter teeth. Just right now, as you are, your body is a gift and you should wear it with pride. xo, Rachel