Here comes the sun–and the shame of swimsuit season. But it doesn’t have to be that way. When did we stop enjoying summer with girlish innocence and begin to dread removing our cover-ups at the beach? I don’t know about you, but for me, it got harder and harder when I started getting stretch marks.
My first ones popped up in 6th grade, from both weight gain and puberty. Since I got those first flashes across my hips, I’ve gotten them around my butt, inner thighs, and a few on my calves. There were times I didn’t want to show my legs, wearing jeans as often as I could even in the crippling Tennessee July heat. It’s taken me a long time to get here, but those days are over. If you’re in the same headspace I was, I’m here for you. I understand. And I want you to know a few things.
Stretch marks are normal.
You didn’t get stretch marks because you’re some ugly anomaly. There wouldn’t be so many of us, both male and female, with them if that were the case. All it means is that your body grew or changed at a rate that was just a tad fast for your skin. You may get them from puberty, like me, weight gain, weight loss, pregnancy, muscle gain, or other reasons.
So many people, some of whom don’t know what it’s like to be overweight, judge people with stretch marks. But weight gain is just one reason that people get them. They are a normal part of life, and having them doesn’t make you an outcast. It’s about time we talked about them like they’re normal. That certainly wasn’t the conversation when I saw my first ones! So hear this: your stretch marks are normal, there’s nothing wrong with them, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with you because you have them.
Having stretch marks still makes you beautiful.
This has been such a hard realization for me. I don’t care what anybody says. Stretch marks are not ugly. Somehow, many people with stretch marks have believed this lie that society tells us. Here’s the truth: your stretch marks make you unique. I’m sick of this narrative that stretch marks immediately make someone unattractive. Even in the age of body positivity, we still hesitate to call stretch marks beautiful. So here I am, proclaiming it along with others that believe beauty isn’t one-dimensional. You and your stretch marks are too beautiful for words!
If a romantic interest makes you feel insecure for having stretch marks, then get rid of that person ASAP!
I am still in disbelief at how often people will compromise vital parts of their being for a chance at a romantic relationship. If that person makes you feel self-conscious in any area, please just get rid of them. I know that a healthy relationship challenges us to be the best version of ourselves, but those relationships that make you feel ugly for your stretch marks are bad news. How can you be your best self when you’re running around Sephora and Ulta spending big bucks on stretch mark cover-up? You deserve a partner that will want you to feel good about yourself, and is hard-pressed to find someone better for them than you are. Don’t settle for less!
You were not made to feel validated for your body. You were made for so much more.
I don’t know how or who you worship, but I believe in the God that created me wonderfully and with a purpose. I know that I wasn’t made to stress about my looks, and I know the same is true of you. We were created to be different, talented, to give and receive love. Is “huffing and puffing at the image in the mirror of the swimsuit boutique fitting room” on that list? Absolutely not! I have been in that situation so many times, as I documented when I shared my weight loss journey. Now that I look back, all those days wishing I were thinner could have been much better spent celebrating all the amazing things that make me who I am.
The more you grow in your self-love journey, the more your stretch marks will feel like a part of you–and in a good way.
One day, I was surprised to look in the mirror and not be repulsed by my stretch marks. I had body cover-up in my makeup drawer, but I stopped applying it. My Bio Oil sat on my dresser, unused. I didn’t want my stretch marks to go away. Somehow, they became part of me. They were a timeline of my battle with unhealthy eating habits and the hard work it took to learn how to treat my body right.
When my grandma went to buy me more stretch mark cover-up because she assumed I wanted some, I found myself telling her, “No thanks,” before even thinking about it. However long it takes you to get there, I hope you reach a place where your stretch marks aren’t embarrassing or holding you back from anything. I hope you find peace with them, and that you even grow to love them.
Stretch marks can be such a difficult part of ourselves to love. The way the world sees them has led many of us to feel the same. But we were not created to feel shame at what makes us unique. This summer and beyond, let’s try to love ourselves more–stretch marks and all!
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