While society may have tried to tell us otherwise, stretch marks are completely normal! They are a sign of how our bodies have grown and transformed. Up to 90% of pregnant women and 70% of adolescent females develop stretch marks. Despite their prevalence, there’s still much mystery around them. In this article, we’re uncovering the truth behind this much-pondered, though often hidden, part of our bodies.
Stretch marks (or striae as they’re medically known) are streaky lines that develop on the skin. They occur during moments of rapid growth when your body is growing and your skin can’t keep up. As a result, the connective tissues in the skin, collagen, and elastin break apart leaving behind a mark. When they first develop, they may appear red or pink as the skin is inflamed. Over time, they eventually fade to a translucent scar-like appearance. They most commonly appear on the stomach, breasts, hips, butt, and thighs.
While anyone (including men) can get stretch marks, certain factors can increase your likelihood of developing them, including:
– Bodybuilding or weightlifting
– A large growth spurt during adolescence
– A sudden weight loss or weight gain
– Family history of stretch marks
Stretch marks don’t cause pain or harm to your body, so there’s often no medical reason to treat them. However, if you feel more comfortable covering them up, there are a few options.
Most research suggests there isn’t much you can do to completely prevent stretch marks, but certain creams or oils may make them less noticeable by improving skin elasticity and smoothing your skin. For best results during pregnancy, it’s recommended that you apply a stretch mark cream or oil as soon as you find out you’re pregnant and through postpartum. Look for a product that contains specific ingredients like hyaluronic acid and peptides. Other ingredients that can be helpful include nut butter (such as cocoa, shea, or jojoba), vitamins A and E, natural oils (like rose or argan), aloe and aloe vera to support skin hydration.
If you’ve already developed stretch marks and are looking for treatments to minimize their appearance, there are a few options:
Often, our stretch marks have a story behind them, reminding us of our strength as women. That’s why many women have chosen to rethink stretch marks as “strength marks,” little badges of honor for carrying children, or simply resisting society’s pressures on what it means to have a perfect body. On social media, the hashtag #loveyourlines has amassed more than 50,000 posts from women celebrating their marks. Similar posts around the hashtag #glitterstretchmarks have showcased the beauty of these stripes.
Even celebrities like Ashley Graham, Lizzo, Lady Gaga, Jameela Jamil, Demi Lovato, and Chrissy Teigen have all openly flaunted their stretch marks with pride…and we’re here for it!
TLDR: Body love and acceptance is a unique journey each woman must face. But know that if you’re living with stretch marks, you’re not alone and they’re nothing to be ashamed of. They are a natural part of growing and a reminder of our incredible journeys as women.