A Mark To Remember

I hated my stripy red, white, and silver stretch marks for a seriously unhealthy amount of time.

They crept into my life when I hit puberty. At that time it seemed like every bit of my body started stretching, and thanks to my fantastic (AKA annoying) genetics, every bit of ‘stretch’ in my skin led to the appearance of those glorious lines. I remember inspecting my body far too often, looking to see if any new stretch marks had developed in the previous 24 hours. When I had succeeded in finding more, I would come downstairs for breakfast in a huff and start taking out my frustration on any unsuspecting family member.

It wasn’t fun in grade six standing in my bathing suit at a compulsory swim class, with these fresh puffed up stretch marks all up my thighs – especially when I’m trying to awkwardly hide the fact that my boobs are growing and I have my period (fml).

So yes, I really hated my stretch marks, but my friends and family (especially mum – sorry) also hated my stretch marks because they were the ones copping the flack, particularly when I would have hissy fits every summer because I thought it was a great injustice that no one else seemed to have them as badly as I did.

Far too much time and money was spent trying to fade those stubborn lines from my skin. As I recall, I started with bio-oil when I was in year seven, because… didn’t we all? I then went onto using scar cream, vitamin A and E oils, Frank Body scrub (save your pennies), at least three stretch mark fad products and I even bought a very exy skin roller.

Nine years later, I can tell you that nothing really worked at all, because just like my many internet searches would disappointingly inform me, in the end stretch marks are there for life and unless you have limitless dollars to splash, it just ain’t worth the effort. Something I came to learn when it comes to these products and procedures, is that if it sounds too good to be true, it really is.

I realised it was high time to change – I couldn’t go on being exhausted from body shaming myself. I had literally spent so many years truly hating my body at times, so I really had to set about changing the way I thought about them for my own sake. I know to some this may sound ridiculous – because they are JUST stretch marks, right?

Unfortunately for me, it was way more than that and all too consuming at times. So, I had to come to accept that those silvery spider webs on my body weren’t going anywhere, and that they weren’t actually a big deal AT ALL. Every insecurity in my head had come from unrealistic beauty standards that I had naively accepted as the truth.

Learning to love them has been somewhat of a journey for me, and I still can’t say I LOVE my stretch marks, but I definitely don’t hate them anymore – I kind of just don’t think about them. I know there are a lot of us out there, both females and males, that are going through the same thing that I went through, so I feel like it is my duty to try and get you one step closer to self love. So ponder the following thoughts…

Around 80% of people have stretch marks
Yes, even the most beautiful men and women in the world have stretch marks on their body. Stretch marks don’t discriminate, so whether you are curvaceous, thin, tall or short, stretch marks may well make an appearance at anytime and anywhere on your skin.

I remember seeing Chrissy Teigen post a picture on her Instagram showing her stretch marks and I was so pleased that a celebrity was finally showing us something REAL, because it made me realise that I wasn’t the only one – plus she’s amazing.

Puberty sucks enough
God puberty is a strange thing for me it meant welcoming extra body hair in places that were always hairless and accepting that a sports bra just wasn’t going to cut it anymore. I for one definitely didn’t need stretch marks added to the list of new things added to my body. We need to start cutting the stigma that stretch marks are ugly and embarrassing and instead let them be something to mark that crazy and tumultuous time of our lives.

Lead by example
When I saw that ASOS – a huge international fashion store had started featuring unedited photos of their models with stretch marks in their bikinis and underwear, I was slow clapping in my head.

Fashion retailers have caused a lot of confusion for me personally, because I always thought, “Holy shit, I have literally scrolled through 1000 bikini photos trying to find some for summer – and not one of those models have stretch marks…what the fuck.” So thank you ASOS, for clearing up that massive misconception for me and thousands of others.

Kindness to one’s self
In ending I would like to say that retrospectively, I really regret the amount of time I wasted trying to change something that I could never fix about my body and that never needed fixing in the first place – but hey, maybe that’s what happens when you are a teenager and is just part of growing up. But, going into the future, I like to think that I will remember to be kinder to myself, and hopefully you will be too.

Words and art by Esperanto Magazine.

IG – @esperantomagazine

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