Not too long ago I posted a picture on Instagram of my poppin’ baby bump and all the stretch marks that wrap around it.
The amount of comments and messages I got by Mama’s and young women who had their own share of stretch marks was beautiful. When women come together to make a statement like this one, there is elegance. Our statement is simple:
Stretch marks are normal. Natural.
Along with comments and messages from all these lovely women praising their marks, I received feedback from women who carry these marks, but without joy. It’s okay. I get it. For a long time my marks left me defeated and in full hatred for myself. You wouldn’t know it from my post though! I was wearing my marks with a smile on my face. Wrote about how I was thankful. Encouraged others to remember that regardless of what social media tells us, these scars are N O R M A L .
This post came from a place of peace. A place of acceptance. BUT if you had told me I would be here mentally last year, I would have walked away and cried because it was not possible for me.
From the moment I knew stretch marks existed I was told by the world that they were disgusting. Unwanted. Unnatural. Gross. Ugly. I remember being thankful that I didn’t have any at the time. And I prayed they would never show up.
My whole life I was taught to hate stretch marks. And so it was embedded in my mind to do everything in my power to prevent them from ever making an appearance. Even as I got older and realized that stretch marks were found on nearly every woman I still hoped I would never see one on me. Because even though those marks actually didn’t look bad at all on other people, they would of course ruin my body and make me look disgusting. Unwanted. Unnatural. Gross. Ugly.
Can you relate? I bet you can.
Before I got pregnant I had two or three marks on my thighs and they bothered me. . . but not significantly. However the moment I found out a baby was growing in me I went out and bought tons of oils and creams meant to keep those nasty marks off my smooth skin!
I applied all those oils and creams to my whole body two/three times a day. Elih knew I was nervous about getting stretch marks and would constantly remind me that those marks wouldn’t change a thing about how he felt/would look at me so I shouldn’t stress about putting so much cream on. Regardless, I kept my skin well moisturized.
I made it to my eight month of pregnancy before those lines appeared.
I was just getting out of a nice cool bath when I looked in the mirror and saw them all hiding under my belly. They had appeared out of no where without warning.
I felt defeated. Disgusting. Unwanted. Unnatural. Gross. Ugly.
My lifetime worth of wearing a two piece to the beach, slipping into some lingerie, or ever feeling beautiful or sexy again was over. The body I had been given was officially ruined and worthless.
Can we just stop for a second and realize how SAD this is?! The world is teaching young girls and women that something as normal as having skin is actually apparently “NOT normal” at all! We are raised in a society where we have to be a certain way and if we lack one thing (or have something that isn’t on the “perfect” list) we are disgusting human beings unworthy of any attention or love. You know what’s even more sad? We LISTEN to it. We AGREE with it. And eventually. . . We TEACH it without even knowing.
Elih noticed I had been in the bathroom for quite a long while and found me with my tear filled puffy red eyes. My Elih, the most gentle soul on earth, held me and again reminded me that these marks don’t define me. And neither do they take away a single ounce of beauty (or sexiness).
But of course, his sweet words and self didn’t change how ashamed I felt. I expected “better” from myself.
Those marks that wrapped around my belly continued to creep up my stomach, around my belly button, surround my hips, and worked their way around my thighs. In fact, due to my extreme swelling, those scars crept all the way down to my ankles.
See. . . most women who DID actually show their stretch marks on social media found pride in them with statements like “These are the beautiful marks that show the evidence of life I’ve carried inside me!”. I couldn’t relate to this. It didn’t matter that a babe grew in me. I didn’t think that the marks were evidence of life. In my mind they were a curse that restricted me from so many things. After all, why couldn’t I have had a baby and NOT gotten these so-called “hideous” marks like other women?!
No one knew it, but I hated myself. Despised my body. Just taking a shower or changing clothes was a constant struggle because I felt like my marks were mocking me. I honestly believed that I would utterly hate my body for the rest of my life.
The idea of ever accepting my stretch marks or being comfortable in my skin was laughable. Complete fiction. Impossible.
Then I realized that the pain I was feeling (and felt growing up with anorexia) would no doubt be passed onto my daughters if I continued to despise myself. I would be incapable of teaching them confidence if I didn’t have any. How could I expect them to accept their bodies if I was openly repulsed by my own?
So I started working on myself. Accepted that those marks weren’t going anywhere and admitted to myself just how negative I felt about them. Once I managed to do that I slowly began to accept my marks as a part of my canvas and admitted to myself that I could feel positive about them.
After many months of working on accepting my stretch marks, I was no longer bothered by seeing them etched across my body. They became normal to me. As normal as my skin.
I still have days where I feel repulsed with myself. Some moments are full of strength, and others mixed with some weakness. But it’s okay. Because none of us are perfect. I can’t always win the battle – just as long as I continue to win the war. When I lose focus of why I want to win that war I just look at my Beverly and remember that it’s for her. So that she grows up knowing that her Mama doesn’t allow stretch marks, cellulite, et cetera, to stop her from rocking day to day life or being full of joy.
As a Christian, I recognize that if it wasn’t for God, I’d still be on the bathroom floor crying. He carried me. He taught me. And He keeps guiding me.
To the woman currently feeling imprisoned in her own skin. . .
How you are feeling sucks. It is valid. It is not to be made less just because someone has more scars than you. Unfortunately it doesn’t go away in a single night or a months time. It won’t go away on its own. But don’t “fake it till you make it” because that won’t work. Instead, fight for it till it’s yours. Maybe you feel as I did – that you are too far gone to ever have a fight left in you. Give that thought a good ole “imma boss” evil stare and prove it wrong.
You are not too far gone. You are not unworthy. You are not disgusting. You are not ruined. You are not weak.
You are strong. You are capable. You are a boss. You are sexy. You are priceless. You are a freaking SUPERHERO.
Accept that you have stretch marks. Come to grips with that. Allow yourself to admit that you have negative feelings about it. Dig down into your mind where media told you stretch marks are unnatural and gross – then ladies. . . Do your worst on that piece of destructive falsehood. Hopefully one day you will accept your marks, allow yourself to feel positive about them, and come to see they are normal pieces of your canvas
Do it for your daughters. Do it for your sons. Do it for YOU.
I’ve got a lifetime of swimsuit wearing, lingerie rocking, shorts strutting left. And i’m going to wear my marks with confidence through it all. – Ain’t no one who will take that away from me!
Why? Because my daughters are going to notice whether or not I hide from the world because I’m embarrassed about something that is AS NORMAL AS HAVING SKIN, and they will follow suit. And my sons are going to either believe these marks are normal on their bodies (or their wife’s), or something to be ashamed of.
My daughters especially will grow up without the knowledge that stretch marks are a “thing” to be concerned about.
As their marks start to show, all they are going to think about is how their canvas matches mine.