Before I start: I’m not going to ask you to glorify your stretch marks—or demand you have an epiphany while staging a stare-down at an overly-airbrushed body sprawled out over the cover of a magazine, and start identifying your stretch marks as ‘tiger-stripes’. I’m not here to convince you to fall in love with them either. All I’m saying is—let them be. Here’s how I learned how to let mine be.
I’m not going to over-sell my story. I don’t think I’ve ever detested my stretch marks, but I remember disliking them enough to want them gone. I noticed them spanning my upper thighs and hips a couple of years ago, and I wondered why they were there. I think I bought into the misconception that they’d never touch someone who was identified more as ‘skinny’ than anything else for all of eighteen years of her life.
Also Read: How to remove stretch marks
I was conditioned to dislike them. Think about it—I was indifferent to them until I was 18, but I knew that they were there even at 16. I believe that by this age (18), I’d become a full-fledged consumer of every standard of beauty out there—unsuspectingly so. I’d search for at-home remedies that promised to lighten my stretch marks with the potency of a few ingredients, but they never did (or I just grew tired of the idea of having to scrub at something that was a part of my body ‘consistently’). I recall planting a bottle of honey-sugar scrub by the windowsill of my shower, and reaching out for it every day. My mother noticed how much they bothered me, and told me she had them as well. And that’s when I had my epiphany.
I’d started to believe that I was the only one with stretch marks—and it’s because, back then, there wasn’t as much conversation about body positivity as there is now, and, so, there was no scope to normalise something that was never acknowledged. I cannot recall speaking to any of my friends about my stretch marks—we just shoved our insecurities into some far-reaching recesses of our minds. There were no body-and-skin-loving accounts on Instagram either—or influencers who revealed parts of themselves that were conventionally regarded as flaws.
Here’s what the landscape was like. There were advertisements that led us to believe that our bodies needed tweaks and adjustments to be seen as beautiful. There were movies featuring actresses emerging out of pools and oceans clad in all of their wet-glam, body-fitting-bikini glory—bombarding you with visuals of smooth and crease-free skin not too reflective of reality. And even though these narratives exist even now, there’s a balance in dialogue—with more of us owning our beauty in all of its rawness and show-stopping glory.
The onus is on me to write about my experiences. As a writer in beauty, there’s much more to my job than commenting on trends and aesthetics. Being open, vocal, and vulnerable for our readers is a prerequisite, and I’m trying to do just that. To reiterate—stretch marks are normal. And if you don’t believe me, I’ve roped in Mumbai-based Dr Madhuri Agarwal, Founder and Director, Yavana Aesthetics Clinic, to explain to us what stretch-marks are, and why they aren’t unnatural or abnormal at all. If science says there’s no reason to fret over them, let’s progress beyond the vanity of aesthetics, and embrace our bodies. Ahead—your questions are answered.
Dr Madhuri describes stretch marks as marks or scars that occur on the surface of the skin. They start as reddish, itchy, and raised areas on the skin, and, eventually, settle down to white-ish/silver-ish depressed marks.
“Stretch-marks are triggered by the stretching or shrinking of the skin—the elastin and collagen fibres holding the skin break, and lead to these indentations. They’re commonly seen in teenagers owing to growth-spurts, weight-loss training, and excessive gain or loss of weight.”
Dr Madhuri tells me that there’s absolutely nothing medically-wrong with stretch marks. “They are harmless, and with time, they become less visible.” She says that there are no treatments that guarantee to deliver drastically striking results, and asks us to embrace them as part of our unique features.
“They are very normal, and a part of our body’s characteristics. We must accept them.. I counsel my pregnant patients to treat them as warrior-scars,” shares Dr Madhuri.
Look—I’m not in love with my stretch marks, and I don’t think I have to be. I’ve read multiple stories about people celebrating them, and gushing over them—and though I think that’s great, I co-exist with mine. They’re a part of me, and they don’t bother me as much as they once did; the key is to remember that even slow progress is progress.