Stretch marks. Tricky.
Your body has ripped apart, cracked and torn. It calms from red, angry scratches to slivery lines and then – depending on where they appear on your body – puckered little wrinkles or white stripes. Mine were epic in week 37 of my pregnancy. They itched, they bled, they grew and they mother-funkin SPREAD. I’d done all that oiling everyone tells you to do – my mum armed me with Bio Oil as soon as I announced I was pregnant and highly vommy, and I duly spread that slick across my slightly swollen belly even though it made me feel worse, ruined my sheepskin slippers and stained my favourite rug. Then I got bigger and bigger, and of course the skin ruptured – I went from a 27″ waist to a roomy condo for twins. OK, it was just housing the one baby, but even a consultant winced when she saw me at week 38. I was carrying a lot of water, if you must know. When that sucker popped, it was like a pipe had burst in the condo. Or my vagina.
At first the stretch marks were deep burgundy and filled with itchy spots. Then my post-birth jelly belly got kind of puckered. Then once it had eventually shrunk down a bit, it looked like an empty bollock. Wrinkled, floppy and loose.
I knew there were products that promised to cure them, and as a beauty editor I was regularly offered fat-freezing procedures and lasers to zap them into submission. And there is some evidence of SOME success with lasers and fraxel on stretch marks. But I didn’t fancy it. Plus I was breastfeeding so I couldn’t anyway. But then I stopped breastfeeding, and I could try them. And I still didn’t. I still felt like my body was in a state of flux, I didn’t yet know what I’d end up with. And I kind of wanted to see what it would do without any help. Five years later, I’m fine with my tummy. It’s not a supermodel/flat/smooth stomach, but neither is my face or my hair or my butt, and that hasn’t bothered me since I was about 17.
It was easy to turn down all the offers politely and stick with my body as it is. But then I went to see the brilliant beauty editor and YouTuber, Nadine Baggott, and she asked me if I’d review some treatments. Her viewers had asked for realistic solutions to stretch marks, and together we could investigate. And I realised, I really didn’t want to. I said as much – if a magic wand could erase my stretch marks forever, would I accept? No.
Someone commented no truth-telling woman would actively decline a magic wand erasure of their stretch marks. I argued, well I would actually. And I would! I know that sounds trite and like I’m trying to ingratiate myself with the body-posi crew (well, duh – who wouldn’t want to join that tribe?!), but my reasons – MY reasons, lady – are actually as follows:
- I had a choice. I could take up the countless brands on their offers of products and treatments to tackle my stretch marks, or I could show my stretch marks off and thus normalise them, since I’m not that bothered anyway. Stretch marks on other people don’t bother me, and if you should be the change you want to see in the world – or the un-retouched bodies you want to see in an Instagram feed – so maybe it’s a good idea to show the people who AREN’T offered free lasers all the time that actually stretch marks aren’t a source of shame.
- I have a kid and I would like her to grow up feeling body positive. I could laser my stretch marks, but if she sees me and other people accepting and embracing them, isn’t that a good thing? This does not mean I think people who do choose to treat them are not doing good. This is just the current situ in our own personal relationship. It’s just one of the factors that has lead me to my decision.
- I will not be pressured to battle with my body. Not one part of it. When I was a teenager I punished it plenty, mainly with the opinions of other people spurring me on. OK, mainly the opinions of the school rugby team. And the odd hockey player. Now, I want my husband to enjoy my body, but I’d be bloody disappointed if he slagged off the stretchies. I don’t think he will.
- I have a lot going on. It’s amazing if I get time to pluck my chin hair. Stretch marks might be a bridge too far.
- Nadine is trying some procedures and is FAR better at explaining how things work than I am – she’s the official go-to on what’s worthwhile and what definitely isn’t.
What’s next? I might buy a bikini. I mean, sure I have never really worn them – I’ve been a fan of the one-piece since my teens – but maybe it’s time. Just to see. Be the change/feed you want to see in the world, y’all.
That said, if you do want to tackle yours – and I get that, I do – Nadine is an expert and has tried everything. If she does find something that works, she’ll share that and I’d wager that will be your best bet.
p.s. I really struggle when someone calls bullshit on something I feel. By all means call bullshit on my knowledge (there are holes) and question why I feel something, but you can’t question my feelings. They’re mine. THE END.