Beauty blogger Ruth Lee has a gorgeous Instagram account where she regularly posts adorable photos of her 4-month-old daughter Presley and her handsome husband Dakota and demonstrates the latest highlighters and hair extensions. 

So it was a shock to her 32,000 followers when she posted a very raw, real image of her postpartum belly on February 24. Watch the video above to see her explain why she shared the photo.

“I’m posting this tonight with tears in my eyes. I can't help it,” the Saint George, Utah, blogger wrote, posting a photo taken a few days after her daughter’s birth last year. 

The pic showed her belly with stretch marks and gauze covering her C-section scar. 

“I followed SO many pregnant models during my pregnancy. And when they photographed themselves pool-side 5 minutes postpartum, I thought, ‘Wow! I hope that happens to me!’”

Instead, the 25-year-old — who did everything she could to stay healthy and active during her pregnancy including using “every kind of stretch mark prevention you could think of” — was horrified by her belly. “I couldn't believe it was me,” she wrote.

I'm posting this tonight with tears in my eyes. I can't help it. The pregnancy and birth of my little girl was the most amazing thing I've ever been a part of. Some people don't want kids, and I respect that. Really, I do. But for me, You see, I always have. When it finally happened though, it was so hard to fully comprehend. Pregnancy and babies, I mean that's common. It's everywhere. But when it's YOUR body and YOUR baby, it's so different. You literally feel like it's a miracle. Because, when it happens to you, it is. What brings me to Instagram tonight, is the post-baby. I followed SO many pregnant models during my pregnancy. And when they photographed themselves pool-side 5 minutes postpartum, I thought, "wow! I hope that happens to me!" I was 25 when I gave birth. I was healthy. I was young. I stayed active during my pregnancy. I took the best prenatals, went to the gym, used every kind of stretch mark prevention you could think of. I took hours of birthing classes, read every book under the sun, and studied natural childbirth my whole pregnancy. I STILL ended up with a traumatic labor, cesarean section, scars, stretch marks, and unfortunately the inability to breastfeed long term. I took this picture a few days after I gave birth, when my PPD really first reared its head into my life. I took this and actually was horrified. I couldn't believe it was me. I'm sharing it because I know in my heart that there are people out there that struggle with inadequacy. That might think they are not beautiful, that they might be ruined, less worthy, or not good enough. Yours might not actually be physical scars, but maybe, a failed relationship, a difficulty in your career, a mental struggle, money issues, or just feeling lost in life. Be kind to yourself. And know that you are not alone. Comparison is the thief of joy. Don't let social media taint your view of what is beautiful, what is REAL. And above all, know that if you are struggling, I am here. I have an open inbox or (if you actually know me) an open door. #stopcensoringmotherhood #nofilter

A post shared by Ruth Lee (@baybayruth) on

Lee said she was terrified to post the photo, but wanted others to know the reality and raw beauty of a real post-baby belly.

“As a society we have essentially lumped stretch marks and scars and all of those ‘negative’ things with pregnancy into kind of an ‘ugly’ category,” the married mom tells Us Weekly. “We’re taught to hide it or get rid of it. But having those signs of your baby and your pregnancy on your body forever — that is the most beautiful idea in the whole world.”

The student and resort agent tells Us she’s grateful for the positive response from thousands of women who have liked and shared the photo. “To have so many women relate to it and support it and applaud it has been so amazing,” she tells Us.

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