One of the most difficult realities about pregnancy is how your body changes. For some, that means larger breasts. For others, it means sciatica. Then, of course, there are stretch marks. Some moms are proud of their “tiger stripes,” while others go to great lengths to hide them. A loving partner can certainly help a new mom embrace her postpartum body which, honestly, isn't easy to in a society that has unrealistic beauty standards. For example, there are things every man says about his partner's stretch marks that might just help an exhausted, nervous, and overwhelmed new mom back into that fabulous, body-positive mindset.
Of course, it's worth mentioning that the sex of any supportive partner is irrelevant, especially when it comes to supporting a postpartum mom who isn't too big on her looks. Any partner should be saying the following things, just so we're clear. Still, with so much focus shifting to mothers, rather than fathers, and so much pressure on mothers to provide, while fathers are still considered glorified babysitters by some, it's worthwhile to call some dads out. Your job, gentlemen, is only just beginning, and part of that job is making sure the new mom in your life is loved and supported.
Prior to giving birth, I worried constantly about getting stretch marks. I rubbed a giant stick of coco butter on my belly day in and day out. I scanned to see if any were growing. Until one day I realized, if it’s going to happen it’s going to happen. I was never one to show off my belly to begin with, but I knew I should be able to do so if I wanted, marks or not. When I looked at myself from the perspective of an outsider, it was easy to see that stretch marks really don’t matter. My husband never once said a negative thing about the few I did finally develop. He still kissed my belly. He still desired me. Hell, he still desires me. He’s never once questioned why I’d wear a two-piece to the beach, either. So if you’ve got a partner who just gained her stripes, respond accordingly and in the following ways:
“They're Absolutely Gorgeous”
Even Beyoncé must have days where she’s feeling less than her fly self. And, hey, that’s OK. While confidence definitely needs to come from within, as a partner, you can give it a jump-start by reminding your love just how drop dead gorgeous every mark on their body truly is. You can even pay some attention to her new mama belly so she knows you’re not at all concerned about her new stripes.
“I Have Some, Too”
If your partner is complaining about their stretch marks, why not show off some of your own? Most of us have at least a couple somewhere on our bodies. It might be on our arms, or by our butts, or on our thighs, or wherever. Just point out that she’s not alone.
“They’re Nothing To Be Ashamed Of”
Society does an excellent job of shaming us about our bodies. This goes double for women and triple for moms. Let your partner know stretch marks are nothing to be ashamed of. That shame is just a tool that keeps many of us from being our baddest selves (and spending an unnecessary amount of money on products we don't need).
“You Don't Have To Hide Them If You Don't Want To”
If your significant other ever seems like they’re actively trying to hide their stretch marks, gently try and stop them. Remind them, again, that they are beautiful. Remind them, again, not to be ashamed and not to hide out of some displaced sense of obligation. If they don't want to hide, but feel like they should, you can be the voice of reason that reminds them they're allowed to take up space in this world: stretch marks and all.
“Don’t Let The Patriarchy Get You Down”
If your partner is still not sure why you’re trying to keep them from hiding their marks, inform them that this all begins and ends with the patriarchy. If it weren’t for rich men wanting to make sure we buy their products, they wouldn’t try making us feel bad about our bodies all the time. Smash. The. Patriarchy.
“They're Totally Worth It”
Obviously we’ll be thinking this from time to time, as moms tend to do when wondering why they’ve given up so much in the name of parenthood. Depending on our mood, though (and please, feel this out), we might appreciate hearing it from you, too. Especially if our little one is being extra cute at the moment.
“They Make Your Body More Interesting”
Maybe others won't agree with me, but I think this could totally be said under the right circumstances. Like after a deep moment of intimacy, for example. Good pillow talk is the kind where you can actually get real about life with your partner.
At the end of the day, the best thing to say about your partner’s stretch marks is simply nothing at all. Because really, why should you be commenting about anything on someone else’s body? Unless your partner asks, it’s probably OK to just keep being yourself (so long as that means constantly praising your significant other for the goddess she is).