Fitness + Well-being

New mom says stretch marks are 'nothing to be ashamed of'

Abagail Wedlake is a new mom who isn’t afraid to show off her post-baby body — stretchmarks included.

On April 23, the colorist shared an intimate photo on Instagram that had received 16,000 likes as of Monday afternoon. The viral image shows her 4-month-old daughter, Aubrey, alongside her stomach revealing her stretchmarks from pregnancy and childbirth.

“I was tired of seeing the ‘perfect’ plastic bodies that the media portrays," the 22-year-old told PEOPLE. "I wanted other mothers to see that they are not alone. That the loose skin and stretch marks are nothing to be ashamed of.”

Although she is confident now, Wedlake revealed she struggled with body image issues immediately after welcoming her new daughter into the world.

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“Just after [Aubrey's] birth, I felt extremely insecure about my body," the wigmaker told PEOPLE. "Not only did I have all the extra skin and stretch marks, I had a big cesarean scar to go along with it.”

Baby Aubrey is 3 weeks already 😩💕

A post shared by Abagail wedlake (@_abagailwedlake_) on

Wedlake only became comfortable with herself again within the last few weeks, she admitted.

“I struggled with my postpartum body for the past couple of months,” the aspiring artist told the website. “Even when I was pregnant, I struggled with the weight gain and wondering how my body would be after giving birth. I got my stretch marks at about 36 weeks pregnant and was devastated, thinking I’d never be able to wear a bikini out in public.”

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The turning point came when Wedlake took a selfie with her daughter. It was then she realized there was an important message to share for others struggling with their postpartum bodies.

My little muffin!!!! 😍

A post shared by Abagail wedlake (@_abagailwedlake_) on

“This is a normal postpartum body. We see pictures of fitness models snapping back from a pregnancy. But how many of us are fitness models? It makes women think our bodies are not okay or not normal when they are,” Wedlake told PEOPLE. “I hope it inspired mothers and even women without children to accept themselves and embrace their bodies.”