Stretch marks are part of practically every woman’s life. Most commonly for women who have gone through a pregnancy. Or at least that’s when we start talking about them…and how to get rid of them.
For me, they showed up much sooner. I grew very fast through adolescence and saw my first stretch marks in middle school. And that was about the time I was first shamed for them. I didn’t understand why I had them and my friends didn’t. They just knew they didn’t have them, and their moms did and were trying to get rid of them or did whatever they could to hide them. They were taught stretch marks were unattractive and undesirable. So that’s what these middle school girls shared with me. I didn’t really notice them until a peer pointed them out in the middle school locker room while changing for gym class. That was the first and last time anyone ever saw my bare skin at school on purpose.
Flash forward to now. I’m the proud mama to a thirteen year-old girl who, like me, has grown super fast. She is 5’7” and wears a size ten shoe. She’s dressing in size sixteen women’s clothes. She’s a bigger girl, both tall and round. Her body changes shape every few months as she grows into the beautiful woman she’s becoming. And she has stretch marks.
Last month we were in the women’s locker room at the YMCA changing for our triathlon training swim. There weren’t private changing rooms like there are at our regular YMCA, so I just started changing and encouraged her to do so, too. “We’re all women, no one is going to look at you.” That’s when she opened up about an experience she had at school that year. She was in the locker room changing for gym and one of her skinnier friends saw her stretch marks. She asked about them and then proceeded to shout to the entire locker room. “OMG, Caryn has stretch marks, eeeewww, omg, Look!” Caryn was mortified, and it was the last time she changed for gym that year.
This brought me back to my same experiences. This is a plea for mothers of daughters to be open about how a woman’s body changes. Don’t hide your stretch marks, share them openly. Don’t be ashamed of your own body. Help your daughters understand that stretch marks are a part of how we develop, and that she, too, might have them some day. Or she may not, and that’s okay, too. They are nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, why not celebrate them? We are healthy, growing girls and women. They are not to be shamed. They are visible evidence of our body’s journey on this earth.
And if you’re a mom of boys, talk to them about your body too. Show them how strong and beautiful you are. Talk about how some bodies are different, but no body is better than another. And stretch marks are just part of a body’s growth. Your son may have stretch marks someday. Or a woman he may be in a relationship with some day may, too.
My daughter is no longer ashamed of her stretch marks.
She understands where they came from, and she no longer hides behind clothes. She celebrates her body and all the amazing things it can do. And she’s working to take care of it, no matter what shape it may take. She will gladly tell your daughter that they are part of her body’s story, and should be celebrated.