• Tue, Dec 11 2012

My Stretch Marks Are Not A ‘Serious Health Issue’ (NSFW)

On each of my hips and along the sides of my breasts, I have a series of discolored lines. They’re thin, but noticeable (though I rarely see them anymore). When I do realize they’re still there — in the same spots they’ve been for years — I’m neither bothered nor frustrated. I bought a cream to “fix” them last year on a whim, but never used it because it just wasn’t a priority. If I run my fingers down them, I can feel a slight groove that deepens along the widest parts of me. The more that I stare at them, the more I remember how much stress they used to bring me.

At 14-years-old, I went from a 118 lb. size 0 to a 140 lb. size 8/10 in just nine months. Nine months. Think of the last time you gained enough weight to constitute a size jump, and imagine that a few times over. My hips suddenly grew and my boobs increased two cup sizes, but I didn’t grow an inch height-wise. The lines were white so, due to my extreme resemblance to the title character in Powder, they barely showed up on my flesh for years. I ignored them, they ignored me; we had a good relationship, my stretch marks and I.

Then, however, I moved to California and gained a bit of skin pigmentation for the first time even, which was all well and lovely — except my stretch marks suddenly became apparent, and I finally understood why these frustrate so many people to the extent that they do.

Suddenly, rather than ignoring them the way I had for so long, I could see their true extent. They ran down around my hips like ski trails, criss-crossing and getting deeper in some spots. The ones on my breasts were even worse: they had somehow darkened. I would run my fingers down them, cursing myself for not wearing enough sunscreen and realizing why saying, “Nobody will notice them!” was not nearly as valid of an argument as I once thought while trying to convince my friends that wearing a bra during sex was stupid (okay, I actually still think it’s really stupid, stretch marks and all). They were what every Maderma commercial called “unsightly.” My hips and breasts — two of my most distinctive “womanly” parts — were unseeable. I felt shitty and ashamed and afraid to take my clothes off for sex with the lights on (something I had previously actually looked forward to).

Looking back, I wish I had been more like this girl:

Remember Stella Booncroft, the blogger who didn’t give a shit what people thought of her stomach or stretch marks or fat? Yeah, I wish I had been like her; I likely would’ve been so much happier. I also would’ve actually worn shorts and a bathing suit at some point (neither of which I even bothered to try until I was 20). Then again, so many people have similar issues with theirs — but why?

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  • Alana

    There are so many things that I never gave a second thought to until I read on the internet that it was something people were worrying about/”fixing”/etc. I always just assumed all women have stretch marks on breasts/hips because of the relatively fast pace of puberty. If anything, they give someone looking at your naked body a hint as to where your sexy-parts are.

    Great article

    • Samantha_Escobar

      Definitely. It’s like infomercials for products you would literally never think to go out and buy on your own, but while watching them, you suddenly feel like you could really use a fucking juicer in your kitchen.

    • DreaTheGreat

      I’m sorry, but its not. Juicers are insanely versatile and the greatest implement to make nourishing, healthy, affordable meals and a ridiculously long variety of deliciously healthy foods. A gumball machine is an actual good example.

    • Samantha_Escobar

      Okay then, gumball machine it is.

  • libba

    I’m 5’2 and recently went to the doctor to find i’ve gone from 115 to 128 lbs. This mostly shocked me because I really haven’t gotten noticeably larger, and I still fit into a size 4? It was confusing and weird, and i started inspecting my body. I guess it all went to “good” places, my hips are fuller and i gained a cup size but i started noticing stretch marks on my sides.
    Anyway, point is i was feeling shitty about my body and this helped. thank you.

    • Samantha_Escobar

      You know, I sort of feel like I have no idea how our bodies work weight-wise. I now weigh more than I did in high school at my largest, but I’m a smaller size than I was then. And it has nothing to do with muscle mass; I rarely work out besides walking and occasionally jogging and I am quite soft. But I feel you on the whole “good” spots getting fuller being tainted by the onset of stretch marks. It’s frustrating when your body does something you don’t mind at all, even enjoy a bit, only to pull a fast one on you.

      And I am so glad this made you feel a bit better, seriously. Thanks for commenting and saying so.

    • libba

      Yeah, i was totally admiring my curvier self until I found out how much weight I gained. Then I felt so insecure. It’s funny how perspective changes things, I never saw my stretch marks or flaws before because I never bothered to look before.

  • Maggie

    I think so much of the stigma around stretch marks comes from the fact that stretch marks are associated with fat, not with growth. When I got my first stretch marks in grade 7 (that sucked) people who noticed them started calling me fat (that sucked even worse) even though they weren’t marks from me being “fat,” they were marks from my growth spurt! Great article Samantha, always love yourself! :)

  • Amanda

    This is an amazing article. When I turned 13, I went from being a stick skinny 110 pounds to 140 pounds in what felt like overnight (even though it was just a few months). To make matters worse, my breasts shot up from an A cup to a D cup in just three months. I was now the “big girl” in my class, one of the first to hit puberty so hard. For a very long time I hated my body. I’m now at a comfortable 5’4″ and I weight just about 200 pounds. I might be “fat”, and yeah if I busted my butt in a gym 6 days a week and ate a little better, I might loose a little weight (I know from experience not much, though), but I honestly do not care enough to change myself. I love myself the way I am, even with the stretch marks covering my breasts, thighs, stomach, hips, and upper arms. This article is so amazing and I’m glad that there are women out there who are with me and won’t let our stupid, shallow, superficial society tell us that we are ugly.

    • Maggie

      HIGH FIVE! Good for you :)

  • TillyD

    I went through a stretch-mark hating phase when I first got them but later totally forgot about it as turns out they make no difference to anything at all.

    Years later I was surprised and pleased when a girlfriend said she thought they were awesome and made me look like a badass tiger lady (she is minute and has no such natural embellishment). Now I actively enjoy them, like a free tattoo.

  • Natalie

    When I first got the stretch marks on my butt when I was 12-13, I was extremely embarrassed about it. I was the only one with a ‘badonk’ and it didn’t help that these big lines made it more noticeable (besides puberty, I was playing soccer 6 hours a day, which probably didn’t help). I was afraid to wear the stringy bikinis that my friends were getting into and opted for the ‘boy shorts’ and got made fun of for it. It sucked. But then, I hit late high school, realized having a big, extremely muscular butt was rare and awesome, and sorta just dealt with it. Since then, I still get a little shy when wearing a bathing suit, but then I remember, my butt and stretch marks are holding that suit up and filling it out, and I get over it.

  • kj

    When I got stretch marks at age 12, I had no idea what they were – I thought I had some sort of weird disease. I was like, “mooooooooooooom what IS THIS?!”

    Anyways, I don’t love them, but I’ve learned to live with them. Can’t say I wouldn’t surgery them away if I had a bajillion dollars to spend on such things, but they haven’t really messed with my style that much. I felt a lot better about them once I saw that my skinnier friends had them too.

    Also, whoever wrote that about them being a serious health issue needs to be beaten with a stick. Way to feed the concern trolls.

  • meteor_echo

    I do have stretch marks on the inner sides of my knees, and I’m going to have them removed. They do not represent who I am, they’re not part of me, and I don’t like them. Thus, they’ll have to leave.

  • Lesley

    I was always ok with the normal stretch marks I’ve had on my body, on my breasts, hips and inner thighs, and to be honest I’ve never thought twice about them. But in the last few years (during which time I’ve experienced only a negligible amount of weight gain/loss) I’ve gained a disturbing amount of really, really thick (like half an inch or wider and really long) and deep stretch marks for no reason all over my upper and lower abdomen, more of my hips, and on my arms. I’ve started taking collagen supplements to hopefully make my skin a little stretchier/healthier. It’s not only scary in terms of why my 24-year-old is not acting normal, but it is embarrassing in a way that my ‘normal’ stretch marks never have been to me. I wish I could say I could just accept them like I have my other ones, but they’re really actually quite awful. =/ Great article though, Sam. Stretch marks on the whole are a pretty normal part of life and I wish society would stop acting like they aren’t.

    • DreaTheGreat

      I thought I’d share something since I have treated my stretch marks unintentionally by treating my skin to moisturizers. Pure, super cheap African Shea butter does wonders to replenish your skin’s elasticity. Especially in super dry and arid climates. It makes my skin so velvety soft its unreal! Try it, its quite a treat :)
      p.s. I am in no way hating on stretch marks, I have plenty and loose no sleep over them. This is only from the concern you are expressing over your skin, which may be lacking essentials to be healthy. Skin is an organ and needs care too

  • lucygoosey74

    Great article! One thing that I have really enjoyed about getting older is that it’s become a little easier to accept my so called flaws as natural and normal. Do I love it when I get a zit or see a new wrinkle? Hell no, but these things no longer feel like tragedies to me. I’m a recovering addict and I’ve truely experienced hell on earth and lived to tell the tale. I’ve had many friends die from their addictions and leave empty holes is my life, and because of this, I’ve had to learn how to be gratefull for all the good things in life…I’d go crazy if I didn’t have gratitude. Stretch marks, acne and wrinkles don’t really seem all that important when I realize that it’s a miracle that I’m even here at all. I guess i feel like there’s enough to stress out about in life without nit picking over every little thing that isn’t perfect, and if you strive for perfection you will NEVER be satisfied.

  • lilac

    I like my stretch marks. They are from my only sucessful pregnancy and cover up all the surgery scars from my ectopic and resulting surgeries to try to fix the damage.

    • Samantha_Escobar

      That is a beautiful reason for liking your stretch marks, and thank you for sharing something so personal.

  • Amy

    I gained about 15 pounds in the last 18 months which mostly all went to my butt, the skin was really itchy and I used to scratch like crazy until someone told me that scratching your stretch marks makes them worse? Anyone know if there is any validity to that?

  • anonymous

    Although I do not have a super skinny metabolism, and I do struggle with cellulite, I do not have stretch marks. My mother never had them, but she was always thin. My body and metabolism is closer to my father’s, i.e. slower. I do tend to gain weight if I do not watch what I eat. I am very, very thankful that I haven’t gotten any stretch-marks, even though I did use to do yoyo-dieting and my weight went up and down at times fairly rapidly. I am just TERRIFIED of getting stretch marks during/after pregnancy!!!! I know this is so stupid and shallow of me, but I really don’t know how I would deal with it. I’m not anywhere near getting pregnant now, so it’s not really an issue at the moment, but I am very fearful that when that day comes, I won’t take after my mother…. :(