Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Subway Map Of Life

Stretch Marks. Many have them, including me. I'm kind of obsessed with stretch marks. Recently, photographer Jade Beall published A Beautiful Body Project; The Body Of Mothers. 

This is a wonderful piece of work filled with pictures of real women, not air brushed, and their stories. I read about this project on Huffington Post. You can learn more about it on Renee Rose's blog site. Click her name for the link. She is a spanking romance/erotica author, who just so happens to also be featured    under her real name.

This isn't her -- at least I don't think it is

Some people are predisposed to get stretch marks, some people aren't. I don't think that is widely understood. Those who don't have them often claim it was a cream that they diligently put on. Here's the thing; there is no such thing as a topical cream that can prevent stretch marks. Stretch marks come from the middle layer of skin called the dermis.

The glucocorticoid hormones responsible for the development of stretch marks affect the dermis by preventing the fibroblasts from forming collagen and elastin fibers, nessessary to keep rapidly growing skin taut. This creates a lack of supportive material, as skin is stretched and leads to dermal and epidermal tearing.     -Wiki

 In other words, lotion only improves the appearance and texture of the outer layer of your skin.

I got my first stretch marks the summer I was twelve years old. I grew five inches and developed hips. The little lines on my thighs and hips felt like a betrayal. It was the most awful thing my body had ever done to me, beside getting my period.

Ever since that fateful summer I've been obsessed with stretch marks. I still remember the first body builder I saw with stretch marks, and the first woman with full post-pregnancy stretch marks wearing a bikini. Subsequently, every time I see a woman at the beach, rocking a bikini and stretch marks across her belly    no matter her size    I want to hug her.

I used to dog ear pages in romance novels that featured a heroine that had stretch marks. Many of those book have been donated to the library. I can't remember titles or authors, but I remember the stories. I remember the scenes where the heroine's body is first exposed to the hero. I could feel the heroine's nervous shame in her body being seen by a man she desires. Waiting to be rejected. Waiting to be found undesirable. Those heroines helped me love my body in a way nothing else ever could.

Interestingly enough I went through a chubby phase from my late teens to early twenties, that I fell in love with my body. I was almost forty pounds more than I am now, and I. Loved. My. Body. I look back at pictures and it's shocking. A part of me can't remember ever being that big, but I also can admit    not so humbly    I was cute chubby. I wore my low jeans and midriff shirts that showed my little pooch. I had a wardrobe of bikinis that I regularly wore. I felt good in my own skin.

Now, I'm not tiny, but I'm a much smaller woman than I used to be. You'd think I'd love my body even more after weight loss, yet, I'm just now getting comfortable with my body again. After I had my son is when I lost all my weight. That's when I really started noticing the extra wrinkle of skin on my upper arms and belly, and all the new stretch marks. I felt like I was covered in a subway map. Tiny barely noticeable ones on the back of my breasts, arms, calves, and thighs. Then the greatly noticeable ones on my stomach, hips, and bottom. I was in the best shape of my life, and I couldn't enjoy it. I was too damned worried about exposing any of my skin.

I was angry at myself for my insecurities also. I went swimsuit shopping and I bought one full piece suit, and one bikini. My husband and I had a weekday 'date day', and we decided to spend it at the beach. My husband talked me into wearing the bikini. It was a Tuesday, early May. All the kids were still in school, and tourist season hadn't started. We were two of the only people on a very long stretch of beach, yet my nerves were so bad my stomach had been in a knot the entire time we were out there. I was a wreck inside.

I'm pretty sure no one noticed me, and if they did, I doubt they cared. But I still wasn't comfortable in my own skin. It annoyed my husband who adored my body just as it was/is, and it frustrated me. I knew I needed to get over some mental hurdles or I was going to give myself a complex.

I'm happy to report that the years have passed and I'm loving my body again. I'm still going to stick to my tankini and one pieces, but if my sundress or shorts flash a little stretch mark I'm not concerned. I again feel liberated by naked time, and enjoy walking around my house naked. I live in a tropical climate. Skin exposure is key to survival.

You only get one body. Some things you do to your body, some things your body does to itself. No matter how you maintain it, or how it wears over the years, it's your body. The only body you'll have in this lifetime. You might as well love it. If not, at least get comfortable with it.

Love The Skin You're In!!


  1. YES!! I got the 'getting tall too fast' marks too - they sucked and I was so embarrassed for a long time. Oddly, not a single stretch mark from pregnancy and you're right - it just happens or doesn't and it doesn't matter what you do! As far as loving your body or not - I don't know if it's an age thing and I'm just much more comfortable now but I feel good - I feel no shame about my body and if you're ok in your own mind, nothing can touch you. I wish that for all women everywhere!!!

  2. The plight of the teenage girl with stretch marks! No one can fully understand how awful that truly is, unless they've been the 15 year old girl that is dreading her friends big, boy/girl, pool party. I'm not sure there's enough money in the world to make me relive my teen years. And you're right, feeling good in your skin starts in your mind!! It can be a huge mental hurdle, but once you're over it, you're golden!

  3. I remember when I first learned about stretch marks. I was in a belly dancing class and a beautiful older woman was willing to show me hers and she wasn't ashamed. It was just an older woman teaching a younger woman about life. I now have a few on my inner thighs that I never even think about...maybe because of what I learned in that belly dancing class all those years ago. Glad you are more accepting of yourself!