Girl Talk: Let’s Talk About Our Stretch Marks!

Stretch marks are rippled grooves or lines in the skin that may appear in different colors ranging from red, pink, purplish-blue, or pale, scar-like streaks. According to WebMD, they can show up on a few parts of your body including your stomach, shoulders, arms, hips, butt, breasts, or even your back. Different things like pregnancy, weight gain, getting taller, bodybuilding, or just puberty can cause them and approximately 50% to 90% of women have them! So why is there such a stigma against girls that have them? Why are there girls that do everything that they can to get rid of their stretch marks and why are there some people that encourage girls to?

Since the age of 14, I can remember having pale, streaky stretch marks on both sides of my lower hips and being completely embarrassed about them, to the point that I didn’t even want to speak to my sisters or my mother about it. At that age, I would think to myself that I was gaining weight (which isn’t a bad thing), when in reality for my circumstance, it was me going through puberty and my body was changing. Still, I saw this particular change as something that was not “beautiful” and was something that I should hide. I was subconsciously ashamed of the way that my body looked, only because I thought that I looked different than other girls. Looking different: also not a bad thing! I would research ways to try and get rid of them by finding remedies that would make my scars fade so that I could have smooth skin again. Over time, I grew up, opened up about my body to people that I trusted, faced reality and started to love the way that I looked. I slowly got over the belief that my marks were “ugly.” This happens to so many girls for different reasons. It’s something that we should embrace!

I asked girls at Wells College about their experiences with their stretch marks and how it impacted the way they viewed themselves. Tessa, a senior at Wells said, “It was weird because puberty was already a weird time, but then there was that stigma that stretch marks are bad scars, and you’re fat. It didn’t hit me as hard because my mom used to walk around the house naked and she has stretch marks from carrying [her children]. But she used to also complain about the marks and said that they were bad, so that also fed into [my mentality]. So I knew it was normal, but it was ‘bad.’ Now as an adult, I know everyone has stretch marks, women and men. It’s something that I don’t even care about anymore. It’s something that I developed into, growing and loving myself and realizing that everyone is human and has marks and scars. Still, I hear primarily negative connotations.”

Christine-Johnson, another senior, also told me her struggle with her marks. ”I noticed my stretch marks in the 6th grade, when one summer I started going to the pool. I always thought stretch marks were normal, until I saw other girls my age didn’t have them at the time. I first got them on my hips, arms, and upper thigh area because I was very overweight at a young age, but then I lost all of the weight. Your body changes fast. If I would go to the pool, I would try and cover it up with makeup. If I would wear crop tops, I would wear high-waisted pants to cover them. I would research or ask my mom what I could do to remove it because I thought there was something wrong with me. I was very aware of my stretch marks and would try and find remedies to rid myself of them. In my current relationship, he loves me and my stretch marks, but even now I find myself trying to get rid of my stretch marks.”

Some of us try and hide parts of ourselves that we think are imperfect and even now, I catch myself staring at my body in the mirror wishing to look another way or covering up the area where my marks are. When I realize what I’m doing, I make sure to give myself a quick pep talk! There is always room to make sure that we are healthy and happy women, but I hope girls everywhere remember to appreciate their bodies the way that they already are. Whether that’s by having girl friends praise you, praising yourself, or like Christine, having a significant other remind you that your imperfections are what make you amazing. Christine had one final piece of advice for girls dealing with their own stretch marks. “Don’t ever let stretch marks define you. Even though I’m still struggling with it, they don’t make who I am. They’re just another great part of me.”