One of the most difficult and longest journeys of my life was to learn to embrace and then love my stretch marks. Besides my jiggly tummy or cellulite-y legs, the little stripes covering my inner thighs bothered me the most.
Now that I’ve come to think about it, I don’t even know why I hated them so much in the first place. Or maybe I do. Because even on the overweight women I saw making their way into the publicity, stretch marks never seemed to be a thing. I remember countless times I spent airbrushing photographs of myself or the times I felt dreaded when someone mentioned going to the pool or the thought of wearing bikinis because I didn’t want anyone to see my stretch marks.
Between the ages of 17 and 21, I spent a huge amount of time and money on products to vanish all my little lines. The collection of creams and serums that I’ve accumulated during that time could rival any of your local pharmacies. Trust me. Did any of my stretch marks disappear? Or lighten? Not one bit. Some things are just not meant to be fixed or eliminated or hidden. But what matters the most, is that some things just don’t need to be.
Somewhere along this painful journey of self-pitying and hating the way I looked, I just internalized the fact that FAT can be beautiful too. I came down to accepting the fact that there is no such thing as a right or wrong way to coexist in a fat body or any other body.
Let me get this straight, as this is what I should have told myself a long time ago: No matter what media, or your doctor’s magazines or your body shaming parent/partner say, there are so many reasons to love those tiger stripes of yours. What actually bothers me the most now is that we’re so often encouraged to feel bad about the natural things our bodies do. From farting to aging or developing stretch marks, we’re constantly trying to fight them, fix them, stop them. But why though?
Instead of being ashamed of our stretch marks, let’s celebrate them, as they are a sign that you have been living your life, you’ve been experiencing, you’ve been changing, you’ve been growing and developing. So, yeah, why should we be ashamed when all of the above are good things in life?
Those are your lines, your stripes and a part of your body forever. We have to stop the body hate, which I know it is much easier said than done. But how about starting to treat yourself with a little more respect and love, take for example, like you would treat a friend? Once you’re aware, it kinda starts happening naturally. But I get it, I was there too. Most of the blame can be attributed to beauty standards and ideals that are just not realistic. The only beauty standards we should stick by are the ones we set for ourselves, by our individual preferences and by our own unique interpretations of beauty.
I believe that starting to love something that you have so tremendously hated for such a long period of time, you must first understand what it is.
What are stretch marks and why do they form?
According to WebMD, (whom I trust with my life whenever something’s off with my body, despite leaving me paranoid for the rest of the day, but I still find myself visiting the page every single time), stretch marks appear when your body grows quickly for any reason and your skin can’t stretch enough to keep up. Stretch marks or also known as striae distensae, form because of our body containing two structural proteins called collagen and elastin, which make our skin what it is. When our bodies expand or shrink quickly, the collagen and elastin in our skin are put under pressure. Imagine it like a rubber band being stretched, just like that, our body when put under such pressure, forms what we all know as a stretch mark. Body expanding and shrinking can happen due to numerous reasons, the most common of which are pregnancy, puberty, weight loss or weight gain etc.
Although our skin is pretty elastic, when it’s overstretched, the levels of normal collagen production is interrupted. To put it bluntly: all bodies stretch, and that is all that stretch marks really are! It’s normal and you’re not alone.
In fact, studies show that up to 90 percent of pregnant women, 70 percent of adolescent girls, and 40 percent of adolescent males develop those tiger stripes.
In my opinion, stretch marks are very interesting. Because, as every single person, they come in different shapes, sizes, shades, and depths. Think of your skin as a canvas and your stretch marks are just your body’s gift to you, an artwork.
It is very important to raise awareness that you don’t have to be perfect and developing stretch marks is totally normal, especially teenagers. With all the discomfort during pubescent woes, it’s important to tell them that there’s nothing weird or bad about having little lines in your body. They are a normal part of puberty for most girls and boys.
Can you get rid of stretch marks for good?
As explained earlier, the formation of stretch marks is basically an internal event, that is why creams and moisturizers seem utterly useless. However, because I know all of you reading this article are looking for a quick (and cheap) fix, science proves that there are ways to reduce the severity of stretch marks.
Unfortunately, as stretch marks are buried beneath the skin, only a laser can make a noticeable difference in treatment. The accessible of laser treatment is so easily found today, but the process requires multiple, painful sessions that will probably cost you a ton load of money.
The way I see it is that we should all embrace our stretch marks, as they are living proof of your body’s ability to transform itself. Whatever the reason may be, your body has undergone and metamorphosed and yet here you are, in one beautiful piece. Your little tiger stripes should serve as a reminder for that. We’ve earned them by being human and that should never be a bad thing.
We’re putting so much pressure on ourselves to “fix” that post-pregnancy body, or all the other imperfections, that we don’t see it as a body accessory for that experience you just went through. I mean, stretch marks are like jewelry or your body’s gift of reminding you of all the cool things it’s capable to do. So instead of hiding or trying to fix your tiger stripes, celebrate them. Diamonds are forever, but so are stretch marks, so why not love them? Besides, you won’t even have to pay for them. 😉