As a teenager, I can distinctly remember the first time that I looked in the mirror and noticed stretch marks on my hips. At first, I didn’t know what they were… but after a few moments of pondering, I realized. And I was mortified.
Flash forward 10 years, and I find myself expecting my first child. In my first trimester, I vowed to “keep my weight under control” this pregnancy, in a grave effort to not develop any new stretch marks. My teenage years were full of nothing less than self-loathing, as I did everything in my power to prevent these marks on my hips, tummy, and thighs. I was now experiencing a new form of anxiety as I imagined how intense these stretch marks could become.
As my belly began to bloom, I remember looking down at my rotund bump and seeing no stretch marks. I was quite proud of myself. However, this pride didn’t last long, as reality found a way to quickly humble me. My husband was taking a picture of my “perfect” (his words!) belly while I was standing, and he was sitting. The picture showed the bottom of my belly, which I could now see was etched with stretch marks. I was shocked.
It turned out that, according to my husband, these bright red marks had been forming since pretty early on- I simply had not been able to see them. At first, I was embarrassed that I had been living my life so happily without even knowing of their existence. But then I wondered, had I known they were there, how would I have changed my behavior?
Would I have lived my life with less confidence? Would I have avoided swimsuits at the beach? Would I have made sure my husband had never taken that picture of my pregnant belly?
I suddenly realized that the only reason stretch marks were a burden to me was because I had given them that power. From the moment I saw those marks in the mirror as a teenager, I had decided that they were something that needed to be hidden. However, I could now see how unnecessary that was.
That moment of realization was the first step in a new direction with my body insecurity, my body confidence, and my stretch marks. While I am not always at perfect peace with my body or these marks, I have come a long way from the 13-year-old girl who was both insecure and ashamed.
Have you experienced feelings of shame or sadness over your stretch marks? Have you found yourself desperately looking for a solution to “heal” or cover up your stretch marks?
Look no further- you are not alone! I want to share some of my favorite ways to take my confidence back when I feel it slipping away from me.
Changing Your Mindset
When you are trying to change your mentality, you must be willing to leave some things in the past. Here are a few things that we will NOT be suggesting to you in this article:
- A list of products to prevent or heal stretch marks.
Stretch marks are genetic and are a result of body changes that stretch the skin. Part of total body acceptance is allowing ourselves to embrace our bodies for what they look like…not for what we wished they looked like.
- That you lose weight or blame poor health for stretch marks.
Society has convinced us that we need to associate appearance with overall health. This simply can’t be done!
- That you do anything to shame your stretch marks.
Stretch marks are not a problem. Let’s stop treating them as such.
Affirmations and Reminders
While you may struggle with your body image one day, you have the power to love and embrace your body image the next!
Whether I am in one mindset or the other, I have a set of affirmations that I say out loud to myself regularly. Affirmations have the power to influence how we feel about ourselves.
Below is a list of the affirmations that I use. Feel free to modify them in ways that will empower you!
- My stretch marks represent the months I spent growing my children, who I adore.
If it wasn’t for my body that was willing to change itself to make room for my growing babies, I wouldn’t be nearly as happy as I am today. I wouldn’t trade my children for the world!
- My stretch marks are part of me. They are unique to me.
I am a powerful, smart woman, and no part of me is not! While stretch marks do not define me, they are part of me.
- There is nothing wrong or uncommon about stretch marks.
Approximately 90% of women have them, and whether or not you get them is mostly genetic.
- Stretch marks are not a reflection of my health.
Stretch marks do not mean that I am unhealthy. They simply mean that my body has changed. This body change is not necessarily correlated with a dip or rise in my overall health.
- Stretch marks do not need to be hidden.
I have the power to wear whatever I want, whenever I want.
By reciting these affirmations, you slowly give yourself the power to learn to love yourself again.
Working Through Body Insecurity as a Mom
As a mom, I am nowhere near perfect in my body positivity journey. There are days when I find myself struggling.
With that being said, one thing that keeps me going is the example of self-love that I want to show my children. In my eyes, they are absolutely perfect… but I know that they might not always feel that way about themselves.
As I continue to recite my affirmations and work towards self-confidence and empowerment, I want to bring my kids on that journey with me.
Whether you are a mom who is struggling with stretch marks, weight, or another insecurity, know that you are not alone. Take the steps to begin healing your insecurities, so that you can slowly begin to develop your confidence again.
It’s not an easy journey, but it is so worth it. You’ve got this, mama!