This article originally appeared on People.com.
Sharny Kieser thought she would never feel comfortable in a bikini after having her children because she was self-conscious of the stretch marks her pregnancies left behind.
“I used to not see the point in exercise because my body was covered in stretch marks,” the Australian fitness and diet coach, 36, shared on Instagram. ”‘What’s the point in having a great body if I will never wear a bikini?’ I’d think. 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. I would only wear board shorts and t-shirts. I wished so hard that I could one day wear a bikini.”
Kieser’s attitude changed when she overheard her husband talking to his friends about why he thought her stretch marks were beautiful.
“[He explained that] they are a result of the great love a mother has, that she would scar her own body to bring a child to life,” she said. “The more he talked, the more I got it. 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.”
Overhearing her husband gave her a whole new perspective.
“I looked at my stretch marks and I felt pride,” wrote Kieser. “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.”
When Kieser learned to appreciate her body, she began to treat it better.
“I wanted to eat healthy, I wanted to exercise, I wanted to do the things I loved,” she said. “ 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. 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.”
“I want all moms around the world to be proud of themselves and love themselves,” she said. “I want all moms to realize how perfect their bodies are, stretch marks or no stretch marks, IVF or no IVF, vaginal or c-section. 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 mother’s body. ”