Mia Redworth was unprepared to see her postpartum body.
“After having my son I was very upset about my body,” the British mom, 22, tells PEOPLE. “My stomach looked like a popped balloon, I had dark purple stretch marks everywhere even though I used every cream possible to stop this during pregnancy. I was very naive because no one ever shows the truth.”
She continued: “It was a complete shock to see how a normal body looks after having a baby, and we never see this on Instagram or in the media. I felt very alone and couldn’t find anyone I could relate to.”
Not wanting other mothers to feel the same way, Redworth, whose son Austin is now 2, began posting unretouched photos of herself on social media as she began her fitness journey.
“It can be scary showing your true unedited self on a platform that glorifies Photoshop and surgery, but there have only been a few times I’ve had to deal with hateful people,” says Redworth, who gained more than 40 lbs. during pregnancy. “I’ve always received so much love and support. I think people are craving someone to be real.”
Redworth, who regularly posts her workouts — some involving her son — says she feels better now than she did pre-pregnancy.
“Before my pregnancy I was very unhealthy,” says the brand influencer, who has over 65,000 Instagram followers. “I was a size 4 (UK) and the only way I maintained that body size was to starve myself. During this time I absolutely hated my body, it wasn’t ever enough and I was never skinny enough. It definitely proves your weight has nothing to do with true happiness.”
Now, Redworth works out at the gym a few times w week and makes sure to drink at least 2 liters of water per day. She eats “clean and lean” homemade meals, but doesn’t deprive herself of anything. She also steers clear of any fad diets.
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“I just want to be a good role model for Austin and show him that fitness and living healthy can be fun without having to restrict anything,” she says. “I have no desired dress size or weight, as numbers mean nothing — it’s all about how you feel. And I love my body as it is now.”
That includes every last inch. “I love my stretch marks and my c-section scar,” says Redworth. “I have truly embraced my whole self and I’ve never been happier with the way my body looks. Everyone has their own ‘imperfections’ and there’s nothing imperfect about them — they make us unique. They tell a story.”
Her message to other moms? “Don’t be so hard on yourself! You created a tiny human in your body, it’s going to look different,” she says. “We have all the time in the world to change our bodies, but we can’t let insecurities stop us from making memories with our children. Get in a bikini and go swimming!”
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