Love them or hate them, stretch marks are a normal part of (most) mothers' lives. Still, I tried desperately to avoid them. I bought lotions and cocoa butter and every overpriced, usually useless beauty product in the hopes my belly would remain mark-free. Honestly, though, what's the big deal? Why is there such a market for preventing or getting rid of stretch marks? What if we changed the entire narrative and started saying the things no one is saying about postpartum stretch marks? Turns out, there's only one way to find out: by actually saying the things we should have always been saying about our stripes.
In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t spent so much of my pregnancy (and not to mention, my money) worrying about stretch marks. Genetics tends to dictate whether you’re going to get stretch marks or not, and my mom has a few so I should have known there was no way to avoid them. Still, I slathered up my giant belly at the start of every day and the end of every night, using big sticks of cocoa butter and vitamin E oil. Guess what? I got them anyway.
Now I couldn’t care less about those little marks around my belly. In fact, I already had stretch marks by my hips prior to going through pregnancy anyway, so there was honestly nothing for me to be afraid of. So “mama stripes” talk aside, I think we do need to rethink how we talk about stretch marks. I mean, imagine if we said some of the following, and how these statement would change how we might feel about the lasting marks of motherhood on our bodies.
"I Hope I Get Some!"
I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone actually show any desire to have stretch marks. But I mean, as a society, we’re at least somewhat into body modifications, right? Dying your hair and getting a tattoo (or five) and piercing your ears are all "normal." Why should stretch marks be any different?
"I’m Wearing This Outfit To Accentuate My Stretch Marks"
Covering up stretch marks is a pretty normal part of new mom's postpartum wardrobe experience. In fact, I think there are numerous products and clothing lines that promise parents they can do just that: hide the evidence that you were ever pregnant. But why? Why can’t we ,as a society say, screw that and highlight the fact that a woman did something as amazing as grow another human being in her body.
"Did You Hear About This Cream That Can Give You Stretch Marks?"
Alright, now I’m just being a bit facetious. But seriously, so many people will tell you about this and that product to get rid of these things that they see as “blemishes” or “imperfections.” Maybe we don’t need that.
"Your Stretch Marks Totally Make Your Body Complete"
They really do! Stretch marks complete the picture of who you have recently become. So why is that something to be ashamed of?
"Hey, Can You Show Me Your Stretch Marks?"
Maybe your best friend, who’s also pregnant, will ask to see your stretch marks (because best friends are awesome like that) but no one else will. Some jerks will even tell you they don’t want to see them. Maybe if people saw stretch marks on a more frequent basis, instead of airbrushed bodies, society wouldn't be so freaked out by them.
"That’s Definitely The Best Part About Pregnancy"
OK, no one is going to honestly claim stretch marks are the best part of pregnancy, and that's fine. I mean, I would argue that the best part of pregnancy (besides having an excuse to sit and have people fetch you things) is the baby at the end of the journey. Still, our stretch marks are like a body modification we got for free. No one can replicate the marks your baby left behind, and that's badass.
"That’s Definitely Not The Worst Part About Pregnancy"
We also can’t fall into thinking that stretch marks are the worst part of pregnancy, either, because they totally are not. The nausea, the constipation, the back pain, oh, and the labor definitely top the list of reasons why pregnancy isn't as fun as advertised. There's no reason to market stretch marks as the worst part of growing another human being inside your body, especially because that idea only reinforced unfair, unrealistic, and unsettling societal beauty standards that are impossible to live up to.
I say love your postpartum bods, moms. They've done incredible things, stripes and all, and are a lasting reminder that you brought your little one into the world.