Sharny Kieser posted photos of herself wearing a bikini on Facebook and admitted: “I used to not see the point in exercise because my body was covered in stretch marks.”
“If I was ever invited to the beach or a pool party, I’d always decline. On the odd occasion I couldn’t avoid it, I’d stay inside, helping with the food or the cleaning,” she said.
But Kieser overheard her husband, Julius, admiring her stretch marks and it helped to changed her mindset.
“I overheard my loving husband explaining to a bunch of his friends why he thought stretch marks were beautiful,” she explained.
“They were a sign of being a woman. They are a result of the great love a mother has, that she would scar her own body to bring a child to life... on and on he explained and the more he talked, the more I got it.”
Kieser said she used to wish she “could one day wear a bikini”, but changing her mindset helped her turn this dream into a reality.
“I had hated myself for the very reasons he loved me. My body wasn’t ruined or disgusting, it had transformed from a selfish girl’s body into a selfless mother’s body and the scars were a symbol of that transition. A daily reminder that I was a mother,” she said.
“I looked at my stretch marks and I felt pride. I felt love. The love of my husband and the love of my children. Each one of them had been nurtured and lived behind those scars for nine months.
“I felt pride. I felt love. I felt love for myself.”
Kieser noticed that as her self-worth developed, she also became more motivated to look after her body.
“I wanted to eat healthy. I wanted to exercise. I wanted to do the things I loved. Just by changing the way I looked at myself with love and pride instead of hate, I had found the effortless motivation to care for my body,” she said.
“Because of this tiny little shift in mindset, magic happened... I got the body I had always dreamed of. The bikini body that I thought was not ever going to be possible for me after being covered in stretch marks, it has became a reality for me.”
She ended her post by imploring women around the world, especially mums, to be proud of their bodies.
“I want all mums to realise how perfect their bodies are,” she said.
“Stretch marks or no stretch marks, IVF of no IVF, vaginal or C section. Breastfeed or bottle feed, it doesn’t fucking matter. Even if you chose not to have kids or couldn’t have kids... You’re perfect. Your kids love you. You should love you.
“Stop beating yourself up and start loving yourself. For the magic that is a woman’s body is what you have.”
More than 200 people shared her post and it recently received more than 8.4K likes when it was shared by the Facebook page Love What Matters.
Hundreds of people have commented to say Kieser’s post has inspired them to develop their own body confidence.
“Thank you for sharing your story, I really needed this. I am the one who needs to learn to embrace my body because it carried three amazing kids and I wouldn’t trade them for the world,” one user said.
Another added: “I love your honesty and genuine approach to health and fitness. You look incredible and by being so real and raw, you’re an inspiration especially to anyone feeling like they’re not worthy of taking the time to be healthier! You’re such a beautiful lady inside and out, thanks Sharny.”