Whether you display yours with pride or spend a fortune on expensive ‘miracle’ creams trying to get rid of them, many of us have strong views on tiger-stripes aka stretchmarks. Modupe Omolabi looks at what we love and hate about stretch marks.

Stretchmarks, ‘tiger-stripes’ or as my friend fondly calls hers, the ‘mementos’ of motherhood, are often seen as a ‘woman’s issue, although we should recognise that many men have them too! At some point, many women will experience seeing these distinctive, wavy thin lines that indicate that the skin has been stretched, either through weight gain or through the effects of pregnancy. Whichever way, these stripes are rarely welcomed.

Stretchmarks usually appear on the arms, back, abdominal and bum area and for others on the breasts where they become more prominent especially when pregnant but very visible after weight loss. So, what’s a woman to do? Surgery? Make-up? (yes, someone I know uses foundation to cover the ones on her shoulders). Or should we just be proud of them and acknowledge them as a trophy that depicts our womanhood?

What’s your relationship with tiger-stripes? 65621434 - hips of a very thick woman in black panties on grey background
Image Credit: www.123rf.com.

Motherhood
I personally didn’t welcome getting stretchmarks. Thankfully, I didn’t have a lot but it still troubled me. I attempted loads of remedies to get rid of them but they just never worked especially as I had my second child quite quickly after the first. Ultimately, it was quite simply a choice on whether we had fun at the pool or we stayed home whilst I agonised over exposing my stretchmarks. I chose the former because for me I want my children to have an amazing childhood and to teach them to be proud of their bodies no matter the scars.

Remedies or placebos?
Many women report their stretchmarks being quite itchy. There are many products and creams that purport to provide some form of relief. Bio-oils and aqueous creams have been said to minimise the visibility of stretchmarks during and after pregnancy but they never worked for me and I used them for three years, but this may not be the case for everyone. I have also read that plastic surgery could be the answer. Tummy tucks offer a way to get rid of stretchmarks especially those on the belly area, but not only is this an expensive but life-threatening option, you must factor in the time you need to recover post-op. It is also likely that the stripes could return somewhere else on the body.

Societal Stigma
In the past, society has not been too kind to women about having stretchmarks. However, recently, there has been a marked shift in attitudes, particularly among women who are embracing their stripes. A quick swipe on social media will show you countless posts of women who are proud to show off their skin in all its glory rather than having them photo-shopped to oblivion. I believe we should all imbibe this spirit of acceptance that our stretchmarks are a part of our body. It starts with the individual. I for one, am really inspired by the social media posts on Instagram and twitter where women share their stripes stories.

Have a positive mind-set about your stripes
Should we love and leave them be?

I don’t want to negate anyone’s personal feelings and some people do feel very strongly about their stretchmarks. It very much depends on how much they affect you as a person. Having said that, generally, stretchmarks are a sign of adulthood/motherhood, and they are proof of what your body is capable of as a woman. While I draw the line at being ‘proud’ of my stretchmarks, we should accept them because they show the strength of a mother’s love and the capability of her body to withstand numerous changes.

We should be less critical and learn to accept our bodies as they are and instead focus on being healthy, using exercise and good dieting as a way to combat the insecurities we have about our bodies.

Feeling good and being healthy is the way forward so let’s embrace our bodies in all its flaws and imperfections.

 

This article was written by Modupe Omolabi

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