I first saw the flashes of pink when I was getting dressed in front of my mirror a couple of weeks back. On my stomach, close to my belly button and one of them curved like a crescent moon. At first I thought the marks were from my jeans, digging in after sitting at my desk, but then I was stopped in my tracks when I looked more closely at the pinky-red streaks that weren’t disappearing. When I felt them with the tips of my fingers they felt like dents, and then my stomach dropped. Suddenly, my journey to body acceptance didn’t seem so successful.
I’ve always been chubby, bigger than the average girl my age, and I have always had stretch marks – but they were always silver and reminded me of lightning bolts, whereas these look angry and like they don’t belong. My first reaction was to rummage around in my bathroom for some cocoa butter because I wanted them gone instantly, even though I knew it was futile.
As somebody who had stretch marks from her early teens, it was a real knock for me when I noticed the new pink streaks on my stomach, because to my knowledge I haven’t gained or lost any weight recently. The new pink streaks confused me and made me upset, an emotion that soon turned to guilt. After all, as a body acceptance advocate and somebody who preaches about weight acceptance, embracing cellulite and how natural stretch marks are, I felt like a total fraud when I realised I was upset over the new additions to my body. I thought I had moved past this mindset years ago.
We’re taught that stretch marks are beautiful when they’re as a result of pregnancy, but when they develop through weight gain, we’re told to do everything we can to help them fade. This meant that the years learning to love my stretchies was a tough job in my early teens, but as they became less visible and I soon started to admire their shimmering beauty. Covering my hips and bum, the silver strands were and still are rather beautiful, which is why I wondered why I was so bothered by the new pink ones, especially when I knew they’d fade to silver over time.
Trying to understand my instant loathing of my new stretch marks, I spoke to Dr Elizabeth Rogers, Associate Clinical Director, from Bupa Health Clinics. “Stretch marks are a natural part of life, but they can cause emotional and mental distress,” she says. “Pressures from social media, TV and society’s unrealistic beauty standards in general can sometimes negatively influence the way you feel.”