I know exactly what you are all thinking! That I am about to write a super empowering blog about how stretch marks are ‘tiger stripes’ and they are a ‘reminder of what you have achieved in a positive way’, however that’s not what this is about. Not to say I don’t agree with the above statements because I do strongly believe it but the reality of the situation is that I dont believe it all the time.
When I was younger I rapidly gained a lot of weight and because of that I have a hell of a lot of stretch marks! They are everywhere, from my arms, to my legs, to my tummy and even on my backside. When I was fat, I was so focused on my size that I never even realised how many I had or that I even had them. That was until I lost weight and started looking at my body properly because I wasn’t scared to. It was then that it hit me. I looked like a two year old had got happy with Crayola’s and drawn all over me! Like i was a route planner going across the world with every step joined up.
As I traced each line and saw how visible they were, I remember that sinking feeling in my heart. I had worked so hard, cried and fought so much, but i was being left with marks and scars! Was it all worth it? I spent two hours sobbing and frantically googling how to get rid of stretch marks and what products help or treatments that get rid of it. At that point I was willing to spend the most ridiculous amount of money to get rid of these marks that made me feel ugly.
The more I researched the more I got confused. We are always promised these miracle products and treatments but then when you read the reviews, it’s always the same sort of answer – ‘It helps a little but doesn’t get rid of them’. From Cocoa Butter and Bio Oil to Laser treatment, nothing will permanently rid me of these stripes.
After being disheartened I thought until I figure out what I want to do I will only wear clothes that cover everything! Every little mark, so no one will know the secret of what lies underneath. Then one day I was at someones house and as I was changing their mother walked in and the first thing she said to me was “Oh you have awful stretch marks you should really do something about that”. I could feel the tears prickling through and I ran straight to the bathroom and cried. After all the tears I thought you know what, sod what everyone thinks! So I tried to wear short sleeves and other types of clothes but then I heard it again from more people! You know when people try to be ‘helpful’ and say things like “oh I know this cream that will help you with that you know” or a child asks “why do you have all those marks?” All you can do is smile, nod and say thanks when you just want to crawl under a rock and hide forever.
One day I was clearing through my old things and came across some photos of myself when I was younger and bigger and I looked at them and thought Holy Crap! Was I really that big? Why didn’t I realise that I had done so well? Breakthrough. I said to myself okay I’m never going to love my stretch marks but I will find out what will help lighten them. In the mean time I’m going to focus on buying smaller sizes and slowly wearing clothes that make me feel good.
That’s not to say I felt like OMG I feel amazing because even now I still have my moments and you know what truth is we all have insecurities. You just have to remember that the woman across from you, whom you think is perfect, I guarantee she has the same worries as you about something else.
I remember having one really bad day when I went out with friends, all my girlfriends are so beautiful that I felt like the odd fat one (you know like ‘Fat Amy’ but without the confidence). Guys would look at my friends, smile and then look at me in disgust. One day, this guy came up to us and said to my friends “does your friend have a skin disease or something? Look at all those lines!” I couldn’t even breath at that moment. My friends bless, them went in on the guy and almost broke his nose and I just stood there, my heart hurt so much like I was physically stabbed and I couldn’t even cry. I thought I was going to faint. I took a cab home that night and I refused to speak. The next few days I didn’t eat or leave my room, I was just terrified because I thought I’m never ever going to be enough for this world. I’m never going to fit in and so I may as well hide. After a few days of hiding, my amazing friends started to come over and did their best to explain how irrational I was acting and how much they loved me and how I need to love myself because I am not seeing how far I have come. Again just to shut them up because I really didn’t want to hear it, I smiled and nodded and went along with it until they left, then it was back to square one.
Weeks went by with me feeling like this and I decided to brave it and go out one day and I met this beautiful lady with her boyfriend that night. Now if you know what I’m like, you know I talk to everyone and she was telling me how she’s had three kids, how it was her first night out and how she felt like she couldn’t go out before because of how she saw herself. When I looked at this woman I just saw a tall, beautiful woman with amazing curves and I was in awe of her. I even said that to her! When I did she got very emotional and said thank you because this was the first time she felt good about herself. So being nosey I questioned why she felt that way and she told me she had excess skin and stretch marks, which is exactly what I suffered from except hers were due to pregnancy. She even lifted her top and showed me her tummy with the marks and it just hit me like a sack of potatoes, everyone has these issues it’s not just me.
The media unfortunately gives us unrealistic expectations of how we should look and what the perfect body should look like. When in fact unless you are a walking Photoshop no one will ever be perfect. There is no such thing and the quicker we realise that the better. That woman changed my life that day because I realised that the women I look at as ‘perfection’ have imperfections too and that’s what they feel insecure about. Everyone is insecure in some way or another, be it the girl that’s lost weight, the woman that’s had a baby, the body builder who has rapidly gained muscle and so many more. We have so many things that I could list but then this post would never end. The point is we are all different and that’s what makes us special. We need to start looking in the mirror and instead of seeing the negatives look at all the positives. Look at what you love about yourself and focus on that because soon that will outweigh all the bad.
So to everyone who feels less than perfect, trust me its normal and we all feel the same way. Don’t feel discouraged or disheartened, instead focus on all the good things in your life and enjoy every single moment. Start seeing yourself through the eyes of someone who loves you and I promise, you too will see the beauty in you.
If you can relate to this in any way then please leave a comment because the more people who know they aren’t alone when they feel like this, the more we can help.
Special Thanks to my wonderful friend Farrah Lewin for helping me with all the editing of this post, it was hard to write but knowing I have friends like you to support me makes it so much easier.