Many women want to hide this post-birth condition, but this runner showed it off during a race.

By Christina Oehler
Updated March 12, 2020
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Stephanie Martin took to Instagram to share an unedited shot of herself mid-marathon, running in shorts and a crop top. While most people would look at this Michigan mom and think damn, I could never do that, Martin's caption is a reminder that even the most fit athletes can still be self-conscious about certain body areas—but by literally running with it, it's possible to overcome those insecurities.

″For International Women’s Day I’m reposting one of my favorite pictures from almost 2 years ago,″ Martin wrote in her caption. ″Gazelle Girl Half Marathon 2018 - the race during which I truly began embracing the idea that I was a strong woman. Pre-race I was excited about my outfit but very self conscious. Mid-race I stopped caring what others thought of me and made a giant leap in the journey towards accepting my postpartum body."

Accepting her postpartum body meant seeing her midsection as a sign of her strength—not a flaw, she explains.

″Having kids didn’t make me weaker {um except let’s not talk about diastisis recti right now 😉😂},″ she wrote, mentioning the not-uncommon side effect she ended up with after giving birth. ″A 6 pack is not a requirement for wearing a crop,″ she wrote. ″Strong doesn’t look the same on everyone. Some bodies bounce more than others and WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT!?"

Diastisis recti is a condition where the abdominal muscles split apart during pregnancy, which can cause a bulge in the stomach after delivery and throughout a woman's life. It's something many women decide to cover up, viewing it as an imperfection or as unattractive. But rather than covering it under a shirt, Martin showed off her stomach in a crop top to celebrate where she is today.

″Because of strong women that came before me I can now vote, work for equal wage, and even run in a race. Wearing a crop seems so insignificant compared to what these other ladies have done,″ she wrote. ″But I see it as a small thing I can do to challenge norms and help promote a more body positive culture for the ladies who come after me."

Martin's photo and caption hit home with her followers. In just two days, she received over 100 comments, many of which applauded her for her empowering picture.

″There just aren't words for how much I love this photo and your words - brought tears to my eyes," one person wrote. Another added, "This is what inspires me!! I love people go have this kind of confidence. It’s something that isn’t easy for me and I try to work harder to have."

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