For years, women have been taught to believe that stretch marks are unsightly, undesirable and just plain ugly. But taught by whom? Was it the media? Was it other women? Or were these just the false narratives that we would often tell ourselves?
For as long as I can remember, the women in my family, including myself, have always had stretch marks. I remember being told how ugly they were and how we needed to work feverishly to get rid of them.
But what if we flipped to script? What if we totally reframed the way we looked at our stretch marks or warrior wounds or as I like to call them, tiger stripes?
What if we all made the conscious decision to embrace every stretch mark, every so-called imperfection or every fold of fat on our bodies. What would happen?
On my own journey to self-actualized body positivity, I’ve realized a few things about my own body that have caused me to do some reframing. First off, it doesn’t always matter how athletic you are, how thin you are or how old you are. Stretch marks can be found on any body type.
As the statistics go, on average, about 70% of women have stretch marks. Not to mention, 90% of women–including many of the ones that I know, earned their ‘stripes’ during pregnancy or in the aftermath of childbirth.
The more technical term for ‘tiger stripes’ is striae. Typically caused by rapid growth and stretching of the middle layer of our skin (dermis) during puberty, pregnancy or weight gain. They can appear almost anywhere on the body including the stomach, thighs, breasts, arms and so on. Over time they can diminish, but not disappear completely. Even if we achieve weight loss.
This leads me to my next and final point. If we can’t get rid of them, then wouldn’t it be more beneficial to our mental well-being to just accept them? Remember the serenity prayer? It’s a prayer that basically reminds us of the importance of not lamenting over the things that we can not change by simply surrendering and loving what is.
The next time you look down at your body and get frustrated or angry at what you see, I challenge you to reframe your thoughts and instead revel in how glorious and strong your body is. Let each mark or so-called flaw serve as a powerful reminder of what your body has been through, where it has taken you and in many of our cases, what it’s produced. Our children.