A mother-of-five branded ‘disgusting’ by cruel internet trolls has vowed to continue posting candid snaps of her ‘wrinkly’ tummy and stretchmarks.
Brenda Rivers Stearns, 32, of Ohio, struggled to come to terms with the change to her body after a traumatic birth with her first child, which left her with larger breasts, a ‘floppier’ belly and rockbottom self-confidence.
The content creator and stay at home mom, who weighed 110lb (7st 12lb) before her pregnancies, admits it took the birth of her fifth child for her to finally accept and love her own postnatal figure.
She now weighs 121lb (8st 9lb) and is on a mission to help other mothers love their post-baby bodies as they are, without trying to change them.
Brenda Rivers Stearns, 32, of Ohio, has vowed to continue posting candid snaps of her ‘wrinkly’ tummy and stretchmarks in the hope it encourages other moms to fall in love with their post-baby bodies
Brenda, pictured with Benjamin, struggled to come to terms with the change to her body after a traumatic birth with her first child, which left her with larger breasts, a ‘floppier’ belly and rockbottom self-confidence
Brenda, pictured at almost 40-weeks pregnant with Benjamin, says she has moments when she feels ‘ugly’ but usually snaps out of it when she reminds herself how far she’s come
Brenda told how she met her husband Isaiah, 37, in 2009 through an accidental text. After the pair exchanged messages they soon fell for each other, and went on to have five children – Victoria, seven, Veronica, six, Samuel, five, Vanessa, three, and Benjamin, who is nine-months-old.
She explained: ‘I sent a text message to the wrong number while I was living in Georgia and Isaiah got the text half an hour after he had set up a new mobile phone plan. God works in mysterious ways.
‘Ever since I was a little girl I knew I wanted to be a mommy. I literally am living the dream life.
‘My first birth was a bit traumatic. I ended up with an emergency caesarean which left a huge scar on my lower abdomen. I didn’t like my body; my breasts grew three times larger, I had stretch marks on my sides, my belly flopped and I just didn’t feel beautiful.
Brenda and her husband Isaiah, 37, have five children – Victoria, seven, Veronica, six, Samuel, five, Vanessa, three, and Benjamin, who is nine-months-old
‘With each pregnancy and birth came more changes. It wasn’t until the birth of my fifth child that I gained confidence to love myself. It took me five pregnancies, two caesarean births, three unmedicated VBACs (vaginal birth after caesarean) and five beautiful healthy children to realise the depth of strength and beauty a woman’s body has.’
With this newfound confidence, Brenda began posting pictures of her real mom body on Instagram to show other mothers it’s OK to not have a perfect, airbrushed figure.
But cruel trolls attacked her pictures, calling her ‘ugly’ and ‘disgusting’.
After two caesarean births and three unmedicated VBACs (vaginal birth after caesarean), Brenda says she has come to realise the depth of strength and beauty a woman’s body has
Thankfully this doesn’t faze Brenda, who says this reaction only spurs her on to post more real pictures to normalize expectations.
She said: ‘I get it all. Hate messages, trolls, comments saying my body is disgusting or ugly.
‘Those comments usually fuel me to post again and again until we normalize the true beauty of a mother’s body.
‘I feel very positive about my body. I do have physical goals I want to reach; I want to be healthy and strong and stay active throughout my days. I have my moments when I feel ‘ugly’ and I usually snap out of it when I remind myself how far I’ve come.’
The mother-of-five admits it took the birth of her fifth child, Benjamin, pictured, for her to finally accept and love her own postnatal figure
She added that becoming a mother has helped her realize that, to her children, it doesn’t matter what her body looks like because they see her for who she is inside.
‘They know my heart and to them that’s enough. I want to love myself how they love me,’ Brenda explained.
‘My breasts are way large, my belly is wrinkled and floppy, I have stretch marks on my sides, my abdomen isn’t flat. But it’s also changed in other ways.
‘My body now is stronger, I have a higher tolerance for physical pain, my body loves deeper, my body can hold five babies.
Brenda said becoming a mother has helped her realize that, to her children, it doesn’t matter what her body looks like because they see her for who she is inside
This body is capable of loving so much more than that pre-pregnancy one.
‘I am very proud. My body carried life within me – not everyone has that privilege.’
Brenda shares her raw motherhood posts on Instagram under the handle @she-plusfive.
‘When I stop and think of what my body has done for me, I change the focus and start thanking my body, I take time for myself and slow down. I am able to appreciate myself better,’ she added.
Despite being labelled ‘ugly’ and ‘disgusting’ by cruel online trolls, Brenda has vowed to continue posting snaps of her post-baby body
Brenda says she doesn’t want other mothers to wait as long as she did to love themselves for who they are
Pictured with her brood, Brenda says children see behind the stretched-out skin, marks, and lines
‘I wish I could have realized how strong and amazing my body was with my first baby.
‘I don’t want others to wait as long as I did to love themselves for who they are right now.
‘So, while society wants to sit behind a screen and label us as flawed, I am here to remind all of you that to our children, we are perfect. They see behind the stretched-out skin, marks, and lines. They see us for who we truly are.
‘They know our hearts and love us unconditionally, and that is all that matters.’
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