As a mother of five, there is no doubting Tanis Jex-Blake deserves some time to herself every now and then. But when the 33-year-old Canadian woman decided to relax at the beach in her bikini last week, the cruel judgement of strangers left her in tears.
"All of a sudden I heard 'oh my god, look at that, that's f****ng nasty, that's disgusting, look how gross that is'," Jex-Blake told Canada's Global News."So I peeked my eyes open and [two men and a woman] were standing above me, looking down, pointing at me and pretending to kick me as I lay there."
Jex-Blake pretended to be unmoved by the hurtful comments, only to break down in tears once she was alone in her car. But the proud mum has had the last word after an open letter she wrote to the heartless strangers and posted on Facebook has gone viral.
"To the 2 guys and 1 girl who ... decided to come to Alberta Beach to relax in the sun, enjoy the water and [have] some beers. I'm sorry if my first attempt at sun tanning in a bikini in public in 13 years 'grossed you out'. I'm sorry that my stomach isn't flat and tight. I'm sorry that my belly is covered in stretch marks," she wrote in the post.
"I'm NOT sorry that my body has housed, grown, protected, birthed and nurtured FIVE fabulous, healthy, intelligent and wonderful human beings. I'm sorry if my 33 year old, 125 lb (56kg) body offended you so much that you felt that pointing, laughing, and pretending to kick me. But I'll have you know that as I looked at your 'perfect' young bodies, I could only think to myself 'what great and amazing feat has YOUR body done?'.
"I'll also have you know that I held my head high, unflinching as you mocked me, pretending that what you said and did had no effect on me; but I cried in the car on the drive home. Thanks for ruining my day. It's people like you who make this world an ugly hateful place.
"I can't help but feel sorry for the women who will one day bear your children and become 'gross' in your eyes as their bodies change during the miraculous process of pregnancy. I can only hope that one day you'll realise that my battle scars are something to be proud of, not ashamed of."
The heartfelt letter received more than 1.2 million 'likes' and has been shared by more than 275,000 people after being posted on a local radio station's Facebook page.
It has also prompted women from around the world to proudly post pictures of their own "mummy tummies".
Men have been equally supportive of Jex-Blake, describing how much they love their own partner's post-baby bellies.
"I love my wife's mummy tummy," one man commented on Facebook. "She blessed me with four awesome kids and, yeah, her body went from tight to not-so-tight. But ... I think she's sexier today (30 years later) than the day we married. Be proud. You more than earned your cougar stripes."
"Nothing sexier than a proud, confident woman! Trust me, real men find this attractive!" wrote another.
Jex-Blake told Global News that her own husband, Clinton, feels the same as the men who left supportive comments. He isn't the father of her children, so has only ever known her post-pregnancy, and loves her just the way she is.
Jex-Blake said she was particularly upset that one of the people attacking her appearance was a woman, but the support she has received from around the world since writing the Facebook post has made her feel empowered and pleased that she has been an inspiration to mothers everywhere.
- Essential Baby