Tanis Jex-Blake, a Canadian mother-of-five, was sunbathing on the beach in a bikini for the first time since giving birth to her first child 13 years ago when she heard the thoughtless jibes from two men and a woman sitting nearby.
"All of a sudden I heard, 'oh my god, look at that, that's f***ing nasty, that's disgusting, look how gross that is," she recalled in an interview with Canadian network Global News.
"So I peeked my eyes open and they were standing above me, looking down, pointing at me and pretending to kick me as I lay there."
Tanis admitted that the unkind comments drove her to tears in the car on the way home. But when humiliation gave way to indignation, she made up her mind to hit back with a stinging riposte by way of an open letter which she posted to Facebook along with a photo of herself on the beach.
The letter reads:
"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.
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 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 realize that my battle scars are something to be proud of, not ashamed of."
Her post quickly drew dozens of comments full of sympathy and support. When Canada's Hot 107 Edmonton radio station posted the letter on their own page, Tanis' frank and fierce defence of her body went viral - it has now been shared over 280,000 times, with over 1.3 million likes.
Tanis is pleased with the attention that her passionate outburst has drawn, as she hopes that it will encourage other mums to show off their post-pregnancy bodies without being made to feel ashamed.
"I hope more moms feel confident about the way their bodies look after bearing children," she told Metro. "These aren't scars to be ashamed of. They are our badges of honor and we should wear them with pride."
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