Mothers bare bellies in support of Alberta woman shamed for stretch marks

Watch above: Edmonton and people from around the world have been following the story of an Alberta mother who was mocked for baring her belly in a bikini. Wednesday, mothers across the city gathered to show their support. Kendra Slugoski reports.

EDMONTON — A week after an Edmonton-area mother-of-five was shamed for baring her belly in a bikini at Alberta Beach, mothers from around the world have come together to show their support.

About a dozen mothers gathered at Churchill Square Wednesday afternoon and stripped down to their bikinis in support of Tanis Jex-Blake.

“The support is overwhelming,” said the 33-year-old.

Last Tuesday, Jex-Blake was suntanning at Alberta Beach — her first time doing so in a bikini since having her first child 13 years ago — when she says she was mocked by two men and a woman for showing her less-than-tight tummy.

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“All of a sudden I heard, ‘oh my god, look at that, that’s f****ng nasty, that’s disgusting, look how gross that is,'” Jex-Blake said last week.

The mother admitted the words hurt, so took to Facebook to vent her frustrations. Jex-Blake says she didn’t think much of her open letter, until it went viral.

“I didn’t anticipate it taking on a life of its own,” she said. “My post of anger turned into empowerment.”

READ MORE: Alberta woman’s response to being shamed for stretch marks goes viral

Wanting to take the attention away from the bullies, momstown Edmonton — an events and media company for local moms — organized the rally in central Edmonton Wednesday, encouraging mothers to embrace their post-baby bodies.

“We’re trying to stop worrying so much about the size of our bodies and more about what our bodies can do,” said Janine Foote with momstown Edmonton who is also a mother of two.

“I’m proud of every single mark that I have on my body,” added Carmen Bickery, who has three children under the age of 10.

“I grew three beautiful babies in my womb and brought them into this world. I am very proud of that and if I have some marks on my stomach to show that, then all the power to me.”

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Fellow mother Lindsay Verhagen, who says she has never bared her belly in public, believes embracing who you are is an important message she wants to instill in her daughter.

“I want her to feel comfortable in her skin and not care what people think of her when she’s growing up, whether she’s skinny or if she happens to be overweight, or if she’s got birthmarks. She shouldn’t care, and think that she’s beautiful.”

“I think it’s really important to teach our daughters to be a little more comfortable in their skin than our generation is,” added Foote, “because I think we have a lot of moms who aren’t comfortable.”

WATCH: Meet the mom who was bullied for her stretch marks

The group of bikini-clad mothers drew some attention in the square, but passersby say they’re proud of the message the mothers are getting out.

“I think she is very brave. I was very impressed,” said David Cornish. “She did the right thing. I can understand why she said she cried, I can understand that. But boy, she got over that and she said, ‘I won’t stand for this.’ And no one should stand for it.”

Jex-Blake says while seven days of “people saying that you’re beautiful isn’t going to change years and years of self doubt,” knowing she has so much support behind her certainly helps.

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“I just want everybody to be proud of their bodies how they are because we’re not supermodels and we’re not on the cover of magazines. We’re just regular people.”

With files from Kendra Slugoski, Global News.


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