At 22 my body changed, again. I thought I was past all the changes but apparently not. My once slender hips grew to proper child bearing size–even though I’m not planning on using those hips anytime soon–and I even upgraded in bra size (I guess there is always a silver lining.) With these changes came a few small marks, you guessed it, stretch marks. These small lines destroyed the way I thought of myself. I hated my body. These ugly marks obviously meant I was fat, right?
I went through a grieving process, I denied it. I tricked my sweet husband, Ryan, into admitting what they were just to get mad at him whether he said it or not. Kind of how Edward tells Bella to say Vampire in Twilight (yes, I totally brought Twilight into it and I don’t even feel bad.) That was how our conversation would go, I would show him my purple scars and say, “Ryan what are these?”
I read in one of my old journals a quote from a religious teacher I had 4 years ago regarding his wife’s stretch marks. He said that to him, they were tiger stripes she had earned by carrying his children. She had earned her stripes and each one reminded him of the pain, discomfort, and huge sacrifice of giving her own body to give their children life. That changed my perspective.
I started to wonder why it was such a dirty word to us women. It isn’t talked about, no one tells you that when your body starts changing that you’ll get them. A lot of blogging pregnancy journals don’t admit to having any stretch marks, which I think would be a miracle. They are covered up not only by Photoshop but our avoidance.
Even though I didn’t get my stretch marks from pregnancy, my perspective was still changed. I was finally hearing what Ryan had been telling me all along, that the marks weren’t negative to him. But instead they signified that my body was adapting to a woman’s body. To him these marks meant I no longer had my little girl body and that my body was now was more attractive to him. The more his words sunk in, the better I felt. I started to understand that most women have these marks. I’m not alone.
Instead of letting them destroy my self-esteem, I’ve used them as my inspiration to exercise regularly, drink more water and less soda, eat more vegetables, and accept that this is my body. This is the only body I have. I’ve decided to love it for what it is and not compare to others but instead focusing on keeping my body healthy.
No matter your body type or whether you have a few or a hundred stretch marks, I hope you don’t let them consume you. I hope you don’t let them destroy you. I hope you mothers that have given up your “perfect” body to give life see them as a symbol of sacrifice, your tiger stripes.