Being the mother of a daughter, I'm acutely aware of how my self-perception can impact the way my daughter perceives herself. I've always tried to carefully choose the words I use to describe myself, hoping to empower instead of shame. By my feelings of self-worth are complicated, and sometimes they can be overshadowed in my attempt to be consistently body positive. The truth is, I don't have to love my stretch marks, and acknowleding that I don't absolutely "have to" feel any one way about my body, is another lesson I want my daughter to learn, too.
For the record, I fully support a woman's right to love her body without the so-called "permission" of some outside influence (i.e. social standards of beauty that are almost always unhealthy and impossible to obtain). In fact, I admire anyone who can snap photos of "imperfections" or stretch marks, honoring and praising them instead of feeding into the idea that you have to be picture perfect in order to love yourself. I don't feel the same way about my own body, yet, but I'm trying to, and watching women unapologetically love themselves is helping me learn how to do the same.
Before I went through puberty, I put on a massive amount of weight, stretching my small frame into a size not equipped for a 9-year-old kid. Not long after, I developed eating disorders that have crept back into my life at the times I feel the most out of control. With all the weight fluctuation, I've collected a massive amounts of stretch marks. They're on my upper arms, my inner thighs, my stomach, and my hips. Since having my kids I've tried to repeat body-positive sentiments about loving my body, flaws and all. About embracing my "tiger stripes." About denouncing traditional beauty standards. But it seems like no matter how much progress I desperately fight to make in regards to fully loving and accepting myself, I can't get on board with this ideology the way others seem to. I hate my stretch marks. I wish I didn't, but I do.
Now, as I try to be the mother my daughter needs to see — a strong, confident, healthy example — I'm more aware than ever of how my actions and feelings about myself and my body may also affect her. She's my mirror, so I'm careful when I see myself through her eyes. Will I ever love my stretch marks? Maybe, but maybe not. I've sure as hell going to continue to try, though, for the sake of my daughter and the feelings she may or may not have about her own body in the near future. In the meantime, here's some pretty solid reasons why it's perfectly OK to own your own feelings about your stretch marks.