This is my stomach.
These are my thighs.
I had a very special professional photo shoot done. I asked the photographer to take some artistic shots of my stretch marks for me to possibly consider sharing with this loving community I have created. So, here I am, being my bravest self, sharing them with you.
I think these pictures are beautiful. I don’t think my stretch marks are beautiful, but I really like these pictures. A lot.
I wish I could solely blame my stretch marks on the forty pounds I gained in pregnancy, but I can’t. My stretch marks started when my body first started to grow bigger than my skin could handle. My skin starting tearing my junior year of college.
So, I don’t think of my stretch marks as marks of my love for Lucy, though they are somewhat that. Rather, I think of them the way my Queen Bee of Feminism taught me:
“I don’t need no one to hold me, I can hold my own. I got highways for stretch marks.
See where I’ve grown.” – Ani DiFranco, “My IQ”
Although it was often a little too angry and a little too dark, Ani got me through the roughest years of my life.
The highways drawn on my stomach and on my thighs show a map of my life. My first belly button piercing at 16, when my body was perfect and unmarked, still just a child. The first hints of tears around my belly button I would stare at in my loft apartment with the wall to wall mirrors. I would stand there naked looking at this body carrying thirty extra college pounds and feel disconnected from it. It didn’t feel like my own and I hated it.
The big rips in my skin came in the last few months of my pregnancy. I was 243 pounds when I delivered my eight-pound, 14-ounce baby and my skin showed it. The stretch marks were purple and tender and extended from my belly all the way down my thighs.
I didn’t hate my body then. I loved it for birthing Lucy.
But that love only took me so far. I lost some weight chasing toddler Lucy in the midst of my divorce and was confident enough to get my belly button re-pierced, leaving an even messier scar. That time in my life was another highway that took me to the outskirts of town.
Ever since having Lucy and even up until just recently, I would say to myself, “What is the point of losing weight? I will never get rid of these stretch marks. I will never be able to wear a bikini again.”
Losing weight is when stretch marks look their worst. As the fat disappears, the skin that is left behind hangs loose for a while. Stretch marked skin hanging loose looks like a saggy scrotum. Admit it. It does.
So, I would see myself losing weight, feel excited, and then look at my stomach in disgust as it was at its grossest. My skin would catch up and tighten up and I would feel better, then lose weight again and it would look disgusting again.
As I approach my ideal weight and focus a lot more on my core, my skin is looking really good. I still see it hanging down like balls when I am doing planks, but I just look away, knowing it will look a lot better when I stand up.
I will never love my stretch marks. I miss the smooth skin I had on my tummy in high school.
But I respect the shit out of them and that’s enough for me.
See where I’ve grown?