Body confidence is often easier said than done when it comes to displaying your own insecurities for the world to see. But that's exactly what one mom did on her blog in these incredible photos that show off her stretch marks in the name of spreading the #bodylove.
The images, shot by photographer Deun Ivory, show mom, philanthropist, and blogger Brenda DeRouen in Calvin Klein underwear, which, as many outlets have pointed out, mirrors the underwear brand's ads with model Kendall Jenner. Although, as DeRouen tells Cosmopolitan.com, "The shoot had nothing to do with Kendall, and everything to do with me. I chose to pose in Calvin Klein underwear to send a message to women about self-acceptance and self-love." (Here, 10 Reasons You Should Vow to Love Your Body This Year.)
As DeRouen explained on her blog, the photos were intended to inspire women who had yet to accept their bodies after giving birth, but she soon realized all women—mothers or not—deal with some form of body insecurity. "So scratch the mommy body empowerment article and let's just focus on the basics: LOVING YOUR BODY," she writes. Preach. (See these incredible women who donned sports bras to show their body love for Shape's #LoveMyShape campaign.)
"Now, some of these images may make you uncomfortable. You may turn your nose up and laugh; write nasty comments and talk about how this will never happen to you—but just know, that this article is not for you. This article is for the millions of women out there who recognize that their bodies are a piece of art. That it will continuously change and that it will naturally show signs of maturity, growth, age, and for those women who are super lucky: motherhood," she writes.
She goes on to explain that one of the biggest insecurities she had to overcome were the stretch marks on her stomach after giving birth to her son. "At one point, I researched creams, lotions, and pomades (none of them worked) and surgeries and laser removal treatments (I would never purposely go under a knife), and then I just decided to 'tighten my skin up' by working out," she writes. "I managed to get a 4 out of 6 pack, but no matter how hard I tried, the skin stayed saggy and the stretch marks would not go away. For years I dealt with not loving myself. I was self-conscious in relationships and I hated my body." (Is Social Media Making You Hate Your Body?)
"You may not have stretch marks from pregnancy, hell; you may not have stretch marks at all. But I guarantee you there is something that you are struggling with. Whether it's your weight, your hair, or your breast size. Just know that there is no such thing as a perfect body. Most pictures that you see nowadays are photoshopped and edited anyways. You are beautiful. Every scar and every imperfection has a story that makes you uniquely you. Your body is your temple. Embrace it and show it the love and attention that it needs. Never let anyone make you feel like your body is not worthy of appreciation." Can we say that 10 more times?!
Check out DeRouen's blog to read her post in full—it's worth the read!