Stretch marks? Hands up if you've got a few 🙋 I know I have. These wiggly little lines are often associated with weight gain and pregnancy, but they can crop up on any type of body, pregnant, gaining weight or otherwise. They are often seen as a flaw, and a quick Google search will throw up a bajillion lotions, potions and remedies on how to "cure" them. I'm all for living in the skin you're in, stretch marks and all, so I'm gonna share some facts about them so we can better understand what they are, why they appear, and why you don't need to get rid of them.
Before we get to that, let me tell you when I first started getting stretch marks. I was about 12 or 13. I'd entered into puberty and my boobs were growing by the minute. This rate of growth, and lack of elasticity in my skin, caused me to get stretch marks across my swelling chest. I hated them. I understood that growing up and getting older meant I would grow myself a lovely pair, but nobody warned me they would have bright purple cat scratches all over them. It was a bit of a shock.
My next foray into stretch marks came with pregnancy. This time I was expecting them - and boy, I got them. I wasn't particularly a fan of them this time around either, but at least I was better prepared that they would be coming. I had stretch marks on my belly, my bum and my hips.
I used all the lotions and creams to try and fade them, but I'll be honest, nothing really worked. Over time I just got used to them an eventually they faded to little silvery lines. I wish I'd known all the things I'm about to share with you back then, because I might not have felt quite so bad about having stretch marks in the first place.
These days I'm much more comfortable with my stretch marks. So, here are 5 things you should know about them.
There are two types
There are actually 2 types - or rather - 2 stages of stretch marks. The first is called Striae Rubra, which translates from latin as "red streaks". This term is used to describe stretch marks that are new and fresh, because of their red or purple colour. These types of stretch marks are easier to treat with lotions because they are still healing. They might never go away completely, but when they are red you can help them along with the healing.
The second type of stretch marks are called Striae Alba, which translates to "white streaks". These are the silvery, white marks you have left once the Striae Rubra have faded. These are essentially fully healed stretch marks. Because they are fully healed at this point, often creams and lotions don't alter their appearance, but by this stage they are decidedly less noticeable anyway.
Anyone can get them
Typically we tend to associate stretch marks with pregnancy. But actually, stretch marks can appear on anyone whose skin has stretched. That might be from pregnancy, weight changes, muscle gain, or just from generally growing. They are not an indication of your overall health, and they're really common. I mean, we've all grown in our lives, haven't we?
They Are Hereditary
My mum has stretch marks too! Does yours? Whether or not you are prone to stretch marks is largely down to your genetics, which is why some people just don't get them at all. It's all to do with the proteins collagen and elastin, which control elasticity of your skin.
Stretch marks are a type of scar
They're caused when your skin stretches in a short space of time. This causes teeny tiny tears in the under layers of your skin. Similar to how when you scrape your knee as a kid, the scar will be red at first, but over time will fade to a white or silvery scar - stretch marks work the same way. I mean, that's kinda badass, right?
They are a beautiful part of your story
I really think they are. They serve as a little reminder of the ways your body has changed through the experiences you've lived. Your body, with all it's marks, is like a wondrous map of your life. Your body has changed and grown and these marks are a testament to that. A beautiful reminder from nature how much you've grown.
Personally, my stretch marks serve as a reminder of my transition into womanhood and into motherhood. They are a symbol of the obstacles I've overcome through these stages of my life. They are part of my story.
Do you have stretch marks? What do they mean to you? Let me know in the comments.