I can’t remember my body without stretch marks. I am 19 and have had them since I was 9, so it’s kind of difficult to remember a time when they were not there. I have very sensitive skin and had a little development issue while I was growing up, so from the age of 8 to the age of 14 I had to take growth hormone and monthly shots to allow me to grow a bit taller than the expected 3’ 2’’. It worked out perfectly, but as my bones were growing painfully faster than my skin, it got stretched: thighs, butt and hips. After that, came the 3 years of negligence against by body called High School, in which I lost and gained weight really fast in short periods of time. This added many places to the list: breasts, arms, knees, and even my feet.
Of course, now that I think about it, the solution is in the past: if only I had listened to my mother when she said: “use body lotion”, “don’t eat that donut,” “wear a sports bra.” But of course I didn’t. Now that I have all of these stretch marks, I regret all the things I cannot fix now, but I have also come a long way with them.
So what are they? Literally a scar left of a period where skin was not elastic enough to cope with the pressure applied to it. They start with thin skin and itching, become red o purple, and end up becoming a white scar. According to my good friend Wikipedia, “they may diminish, but will never disappear completely.” They appear during pregnancy, rapid weight gain, puberty ,and due to some medical conditions. They may also appear on body builders or people who, like me, have very sensitive skin and even a slight growth in muscle may stretch it.
There are many options to help diminish them. Of course the best thing would be to have super soft and elastic skin, which can be improved with constant use of a good body lotion. However, this is not a solution for the problem, specially when people are prone to having them. I have tried some things and a few have worked. Constant moisturizing of skin has reduced the speed at which I got them. The cocoa creams sold for pregnant women have made them slightly less visible. Recently, I have been experimenting with rosehip oil and am not sure of the results. On my early and desperate stages of learning to live with them, I even tried to apply sunscreen everywhere but on the stretch marks. I never thought of the fact that scars don’t get tan. A doctor told me that loosing weight would help, but now that I am thinner I think they are more visible. Of course, this is just my case and whatever helps me may be useless for others.
There are many other technologies that are able to diminish or partially remove stretch marks. There are much better and much more expensive lotions in comparison to what I have used. There is also laser therapy, which is very expensive and not completely effective. I have a model friend who did something kind of crazy in which the skin where the stretch marks were got burnt to allow growth of new skin. I even saw on Facebook there’s this tattoo artist that turns them into your skin color.
So there are many options, but almost none is able to remove stretch marks completely or accessible enough for me to try them. If I had the money and were braver, I’d probably try anything, because, let me tell you something: it’s hard to live with them in a society that constantly pressures you to look perfect. Whatever I’m wearing, I feel like someone is watching my stretch marks. When I am stretching on a Pole Fitness class, I feel like the girl behind me is looking at them and feeling disgusted. It is even harder when I am on the beach and have to walk by the side of my father’s gorgeous, unmarked girlfriend. It’s a lot of pressure, specially at my age and in the way of thinking I was born into.
But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. At the end of the day, no one can look past my clothing, the girl behind me at my class is not disgusted by me, and my father’s girlfriend is not perfect and is a great example of self-acceptance. Occasionally I will find a girl at the beach with a body full with stretch marks that is smiling and so beautiful you don’t even notice anything else. Everyone should be able to feel like that despite any physical characteristic that is not socially acceptable.
The truth is the only people that don’t have stretch marks are probably children. And, even though we may not like them, they tell a story: mine are a reminder of the success of a medical treatment and of years of disorder in my life, which I don’t regret after all. I recently got one because my muscles are growing and it’s probably my favorite stretch mark. Many women have them as a souvenir of 9 months of life growing inside them… how can that be anything but beautiful? How can something so normal be something so dreaded?
I believe that the Pole Dance community has a duty to every person out there: it is one of the first sports that is slowly becoming socially acceptable while exploring sensuality, strength and self-acceptance. In many ways, we are a voice of body acceptance, showing how anyone can feel and be sexy and strong without loosing any part of what makes them unique. I see it every day when my teacher breastfeeds her child, when she is not afraid to show here surgery scars, when an older woman takes class with us and looks stunning on her wrinkled skin.
Stretch marks are just another body characteristic. They are hard to live with and hard to accept, but if someone knows something about feeling beautiful despite everything it’s us. So here is my point: there are many ways to avoid and diminish stretch marks, they are hard as hell to live with because they are scars and it is completely understandable to want to get rid of them. But if, like me, you don’t have enough money to have every single one of them tattooed to blend with your skin, the best thing you can do is learn how to love them. One of my friends told me once “be proud of your tiger stripes.” He was right: they show a journey of your life and are part of you.
So here is the challenge: I took a picture of the area of my body where I have the most stretch marks. I invite whoever is reading this to share a picture of your stretch marks or your worst body insecurity. As one of the older cousins in a group of eight, I can tell you this can go a long way to inspire others to love themselves. What I am trying to do is to look at myself everyday on the mirror and tell me I am beautiful. Whenever I look down on my legs and start thinking they look terrible, I just tell me I love me even more. No one will ever know you like you do, you are the only person that will be there forever. Why shouldn’t you love yourself more than anything else?
- Pole Dancing in a “Conservative” Society (Mexico) - November 3, 2017
- Stretch Marks: the chronic frustration of a whole life with them - September 15, 2017
- My first performance: all the fears and anticipations - August 18, 2017