Tanis Jex-Blake and her husband. Photo by Tanis Jex-Blakej/Facebook
A mother of five who was publicly fat-shamed this week while sunbathing on a public beach is striking back on Facebook. On Wednesday, Tanis Jex-Blake, of Alberta, Canada, shared a bikini-wearing selfie of her stretchmark-laden stomach — the target of derision — and the selfie has now been shared more than 3,000 times by supporters.
“I’m sorry if my first attempt at sun tanning in a bikini in public in 13 years ‘grossed you out’,” wrote Jex-Blake in what she called “an open letter” to the two men and one woman — local house builders taking a beer break — who openly mocked her. “I’m sorry that my stomach isn’t flat and tight. I’m sorry that my belly is covered in stretch marks. I’m NOT sorry that my body has housed, grown, protected, birthed and nurtured FIVE fabulous, healthy, intelligent and wonderful human beings.”
She continued, “I’m sorry if my 33 year old, 125 lb body offended you so much that you felt that pointing, laughing, and pretending to kick me. But I’ll have you know that as I looked at your ‘perfect’ young bodies, I could only think to myself, ‘What great and amazing feat has YOUR body done?’ I’ll also have you know that I held my head high, unflinching as you mocked me, pretending that what you said and did had no effect on me; but I cried in the car on the drive home. Thanks for ruining my day. It’s people like you who make this world an ugly hateful place.”
Jex-Blake’s post has inspired a slew of supportive comments. “Well said!! You’re beautiful and have five beautiful babies!!” wrote one person, while others posted, “That is terrible! I am sorry that happened to you,” and “Let the young and immature point and laugh, at the end of the day that is their issue not yours.”
The selfie, part of her post that’s gone viral. Photo by Tanis Jex-Blake/Facebook
Her proud post was reminiscent of recent body-image declarations on social media, such as when author Jenny Trout posted her first-person essay, “Fat Woman Wears Bikini in Public, Earth’s Orbit Unaffected,” and 19-year-old Victoria Erickson of California wrote “I Like This Picture of My Cellulite.”
The story has been featured by many Canadian news outlets, including CTV News, MetroNews Canada, and the HOT 107 Edmonton radio station, which put Jex-Blake’s shared post on its own website, prompting 200,000 shares and inspiring more than a million likes. Yahoo was not able to reach Jex-Blake for comment on the huge response, but she has been verbose with her Facebook commenters, explaining that she was not “flaunting it,” but was “ashamed and embarrassed,” and simply trying to get a “base tan” before leaving for a family vacation. She also said she’d like to take her protest further.
“I’d like to host a ‘Post-Baby Bikini’ sit in,” she wrote. “At some place public… where all sorts of women in their glory can rock their bikinis in pride, and let men (and women) know that we should be proud of how our bodies have changed, and that we aren’t ashamed!”