I have something of a love/hate relationship with my stretch marks. I wish I could claim I've always been a strong, confident woman, but I've struggled with who I am and the body I live in for as long as I can remember. Now that I'm finally at peace with myself, though, I have more than a few reasons why I don't care if you think my stretch marks are "empowering" or not. Honestly, and finally, I can say with complete certainty that I don't care how anyone else views or perceives them. Sure, I don't exactly love them, but after all these years of fighting to accept a part of my body that has been around for some time, I've come to terms with their existence.
Stretch marks mean so many things to me. While I know there's two ways to go about living with stretch marks — either full-out owning them or denying and hiding their existence however possible — I'm somewhere in the middle and straddling both love and loathing. Thankfully, somewhere in the middle there's a place that has allowed me to accept simply feeling OK. I'm tired of trying to hide these stretched marks on my upper arms that appeared in early childhood when my weight ballooned. I'm not ashamed of the ones on my stomach, either, because those appeared as I was creating my two children.
So while I'm not about forcing myself to feel head-over-heels in love with my stretch marks in order to somehow prove a point, I'm OK with them. I'm human, so somedays I'm confident and other days I fight the urge to cower from the world. Regardless of how I feel on any particular day, about either my body or the marks on my body, why should I care whether or not anyone else thinks my stretch marks are empowering or not?
Because Each One Tells A Story
Every single stretch mark on my skin tells a different story. Some of them are deeper and more defined because they sprouted when I didn't take care of myself. Those ones remind me to make myself more of a priority.
Then there's the ones that are less visible, that I might hide every now and then. Sometimes I tire of them, only because I don't always want to be reminded of all my body's gone through. The stretch marks that came with pregnancies, though? Yeah, those are special. When I look at them I remember all I endured to become a mother. They may empower some, they may make others uneasy. Either way, they're mine.
Because I Don't Exist To Please You
Believe it or not, my body isn't really up for review. If I feel particularly empowered by my stretch marks on any given day, cool. Whether anyone else does or not isn't my problem. I've spent way too much time preoccupied with the thoughts and feelings and opinions of others. I'm getting older, wiser, and I just don't have the time to be that concerned with how other people view me.
Because They Created New Life
All those stretch marks on my upper thighs, hips, and belly, are from my beautiful babies. I admit I gained a few more pounds than I should've during those two pregnancies, but I regret nothing. My kids are healthy and amazing, and those stretch marks remind me of that every time I look at them.
Because They're Proof Of My Resilience
As I said, my weight was an issue as I approached puberty and beyond. As a result, and especially early on, I no longer felt like I belonged in my own skin. It affected my self-esteem and I slunk into one of my first deep depressions soon after. For years I fought through eating disorders with my weight going way up, then way down. I wasn't happy, or healthy, and I didn't know how to accept myself as is.
Now that I'm a mother with all these battle scars, so to speak, all I have to do is look at the marks on my skin and see obvious proof of how strong I am. I've overcome so much physical and emotional torment, but I've made it through to the other side.
Because They Remind Me I'm Perfect In My Imperfection
Aiming for perfection has been one of my biggest downfalls. Making mistakes, never feeling good enough, and failing put me in a weird head space. I always pick myself back up, push harder, and hope for a better outcome, but with stretch marks there's no doing that. All I have is the visual reminder I'm not perfect, and never will be. After years of chasing the unattainable, I've come to accept my flaws are what make me unique powerful, even.
Because It's Taken Awhile To Be Grateful For Them
My feelings about my body haven't always been good ones. I've tried, too many times, to self-destruct. Luckily my body's been patient with me. It accepts the fact that I will make mistakes before I actually do. I've taken it for granted for years, and I'm finally at a place of feeling thankful for all it's done to carry me through. Without those stretch marks to map out the course of all I've experienced, I might've never come to appreciate myself. So, yes. I'm grateful for them. Every. Single. One.
Because I'm Finally Comfortable In My Skin
It wasn't easy for me to get to that place of complete self-acceptance. It's been a long time coming, and I fought it for decades. Now that I'm here, though, and comfortable in my skin — stretch marks and all — I feel empowered. Those marks are part of me; memories of the past and reminders for the future. If you feel differently, it's cool to agree to disagree.