Sep 062011

stretch marksI have stretch marks on my stretch marks. They gleam like silver. They ripple like wind on a river. My stretch marks are badges of honor gained through 5 pregnancies. I am covered in stretch marks. I have them on my thighs, hips, belly, breasts, and even my upper calves. Most of them were acquired with my first pregnancy, when I was 17 and went from 140 pounds to 190 pounds. My body just couldn’t cope with that big of a change. But it means that I’ve spent my entire adult life covered in stretch marks.

I wish that I could say that I was in love with these stretch marks. I’m not. It’s the single thing I hate most about my body. Well, sort of. It is part of my body. I love my body, including the things that I don’t really like. Sometimes I even really love the stretch marks because they are a map of where I’ve been. The spiderwebs across my breasts are a symbol of the time I spent breast feeding my babies. The daggers across my belly remind me of being full and round with child. I don’t mind when my lovers run their fingers over my stretch marks. But I wish I could get rid of them.

I think it has to do with the sexual images that I see. The availability of sexual images has expanded with the internet, so I can now see attractive naked older women or curvier women, but I’ve never seen a woman with stretch marks. They’re probably airbrushed out. Smooth, supple skin seems to be the standard. So if I let myself, it’s easy to feel self conscious and unattractive.

Of course, that’s total bullshit. I know lots of attractive women who have stretch marks. I can see the beauty in them without thinking, “Damn, she’d be really hot if it weren’t for those stretch marks!” And my lovers think my stretch marks are hot. Harold says they are a sign of my strength and bravery. So why am I so hard on myself? Why am I letting myself feel competitive in an industry that I want to change? Who says that my stretch marks make me less attractive?

stretch marksI’m setting myself up, and I know it, but I still don’t want to have stretch marks. Maybe it’s still the reaction of a teen-ager who feels confused and betrayed about her body’s reactions to pregnancy. Maybe it’s a side-effect of getting older and wanting to look more youthful. Or living in a culture that marginalizes having children. Mostly, when I look in the mirror, I don’t see them. It’s only when I look at photos of myself that I’m critical.

So, here’s my new goal: love my stretch marks and make them look sexy. No airbrushing, just me. Maybe I can start a revolution.

  • Naamah

    I’ve touched on stretchmarks in my own journal.

    I have them all over, and I’ve never been pregnant, so I can’t even claim them as some sort of badge of womanly honor.  But it helps me to realize that not once, not even one single time, has anyone ELSE (besides my mom when she was being an asshole) mentioned my stretchmarks in a negative way.  And I’ve been naked in front of my share of people. I know I shouldn’t care what people think, but I’ll make an exception when people are thinking nicer thoughts about me than I am!  :)

    I find them beautiful on other women.   <3

    It's hard to make peace with these things about ourselves.  Even when there's no logical reason why, and loads of evidence to the contrary, we still feel sad and hurt.

  • Hardin Reddy

    My lovers have had stretch marks.  I adore them as I adore everything else about their bodies.