They have been associated with cellulite, motherhood, life after 40 and general negligence. In fact, stretch marks do not appear on women’s and mature skin, but they also occur among teenagers or men. So why are we still ashamed of them?
Where do these stretch marks come from?
What have we done wrong? This question is probably a source of annoyance to many of us. Seeing the spindle strands on our thighs, breasts or buttocks, we wonder whether we did not care enough about our skin, nourishment and our body? Are these unaesthetic lines, which destroy the ideal statue of our womanhood, our fault? The answer to all these dilemmas is no. If such marks are on your body, then apparently they had to appear there. They are no longer just “on” your skin, but they are your skin – an integral part of it, whether you want it or not.
Since we have already explained that we definitely had no influence on this, it is worth asking ourselves another question: why the hell have they appeared at all?
We do not need to experience pregnancy in order for such scars to appear on our body. Stretch marks are the result of the inability of our body to keep up with the changes that affect it and reshape it in every possible way. In the event of a sudden change of weight in a short time or due to hormonal disorders, the skin doesn’t keep up. We are not to blame for anything, and stretch marks are something completely natural. Sometimes they are called the “symbol of womanliness”, although it’s no determinant – let’s not go from one extreme to the other; you don’t need them to feel like a woman. Stretch marks should not be perceived as something bad, but as a possible, natural element of our existence, like freckles or birthmarks.
Time for coming out
More and more women, including celebrities, decide to show their bodies, which don’t necessarily look like from the cover of a glamorous magazine. Such coming out’s are sometimes sensational – as if stretch marks were something totally unusual and admitting to their presence required an impossible amount of courage. It is not only public figures such as John Legend’s wife, Chrissy Teigen, for example, who decide on such a (publicised) step, but the world’s brands are also trying to overcome the taboo. ASOS, a well- known British clothing company, has recently launched a campaign related to the collection of swimwear. The bodies of the models have not been retouched; scars from acne or stretch marks are clearly visible. As it seems, it pays off to be real because instead of a wave of negative opinions, the campaign met with a very positive feedback.
Independent artists also try to make their contribution. The twenty-one- year-old artist from Spain, Zineta, is now using her entire career to break the silence. She battles sexism by taking subtle photos of women’s breasts from behind delicate flowers. She tries to show that menstrual leakage is simply something that happens. Zineta has also developed a project concerning female stretch marks. Using paints, she coloured the female stretch marks, not covering or masking them, but paying special attention to them. She says that scars are unique and make each of us exceptional.
Between shame and rivalry
Some time ago, I posted a photo of a fragment of my thigh on Instagram, where these small, bright bolts of lightning are visible. I received a lot of feedback; from questions from the guys whether I can send them this photo without panties, through praise and rebuke concerning my “courage”, to questions from young girls who do not know exactly what it is, and have seen identical scars on their bodies. They don’t ask their mothers because usually mature women clearly associate the problem and occurrence of stretch marks with pregnancy, not the possibility of them appearing during adolescence or in result of eating disorders, which often affect teenagers. And that is partly why it is so important to speak loudly about stretch marks.
Natalia, who runs the Pink Candy channel on YouTube, where she speaks about sex and sexuality, has recently posted a picture of her stretch marks on the fanpage of the channel. In the description she briefly described a situation in which a viewer confessed that she is afraid to undress herself in front of her boyfriend because of the stretch marks. Under the post, among many positive comments, there were also some valuating ones – those in which women, as if they were competing to be the one with the biggest scars, discussing which ones are already shaming. This rivalry, (“she hasn’t seen the true stretch marks yet”; as if bigger ones were supposed to be real, and the smaller ones fictitious and meaningless) shocked and frustrated me – when did it happen that we, the women, started to fight with each other instead of supporting and motivating one another?
Stretch marks cannot be ugly when they are yours
Whether or not we have stretch marks, and if so, how big, should not matter. What is important is what we have in our minds and whether we have an internal problem with them. Nobody – a guy in front of whom we plan to undress, beach-goers on towels next to us or friends at the changing room – is likely to have a problem with whether and how many scars we have. Everything – fears, worries and anxieties are in our minds. It is up to us whether we want to get rid of them.
On the right wrist I have a scar after three stitches. Once, when I was a child, as a part of the fun with my friends, I pushed the door to my room, which had little glass windows. When I look at this small, healed ladder, I smile every time and remember this foolishness. I love this scar just as I love scars on my thighs, underneath my briefs. They haven’t been created out of stupidity, but by nature and are an integral part of me. They are beautiful, because they’re mine.