A California mom’s side-by-side photos show how much she’s changed in 10 years ― and how much she’s learned to love her body.

Lindsay Wolf, an actress and writer, shared two side-by-side photos on Instagram on June 5. The first photo shows her at 23 years old, and in the caption, Wolf wrote that she was self-conscious then and “critical of her physical shape.” The second photo shows her at 33. Wolf wrote that the pic captures a “woman who is learning to love her body without pressuring it to be anything other than what it is.”

“And in the process, she is healing a lifelong struggle of never fully seeing herself for the extraordinary human being she is,” she wrote.

Wolf, who has an 11-year-old stepdaughter and a 19-month-old daughter, told HuffPost she felt motivated to share the post because her journey to completely loving her body has been “20 years in the making.” After she gave birth, she wasn’t actively attempting to make herself smaller for the first time in her life, which marked an incredible turning point for the way she viewed her body. 

“It took becoming pregnant and watching my body support a baby, along with a weight gain of almost 50 pounds over the course of 20 years, to realize that my body is just right exactly as it is,” she told HuffPost.

Wolf said a photo her husband took immediately after she gave birth reflects the pride and appreciation she had learned to have for her body.

“I’m grinning from ear to ear at him in the photo, because while my body looks vastly different than it ever has before, I was basking in the immediate pride of my body doing something truly magical,” she said. “This body of mine held and grew and pushed out my incredible daughter.”

Through her post, Wolf hopes other women learn to embrace their bodies, especially moms after they’ve given birth. She pointed out how many moms are encouraged to erase their pregnancies from their bodies as soon as they welcome their babies.

“It’s funny ― women are cherished while in their pregnant bodies. We are constantly told things like, ‘You’re glowing!’ and how beautiful we are in the state of pregnancy,” she told HuffPost. “But it seems like as soon as we’ve transitioned into full motherhood mode, the appreciation for what our bodies continue to be capable of ― and how they look ― goes completely away.”

Though she’s focusing on moving forward, Wolf said if she could go back and tell her 23-year-old self anything, she’d tell her she is “so much more than her physical body.” She’d also tell her that one day she would learn to love herself unconditionally despite the harmful things she heard and damaging pressures she faced growing up. 

“Most importantly, I’d tell her that she couldn’t control how others viewed and commented on her body growing up and that those destructive words slung at her body had nothing to do with her and everything to do with how little we are taught to love ourselves,” she said. “But it is now her responsibility to love herself as fiercely as she can.”

The HuffPost Parents newsletter, So You Want To Raise A Feminist, offers the latest stories and news in progressive parenting. 

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