Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What If Stretch Marks Were Badges of Honor?

A couple of things I encountered recently got my wheels turning.

First, I've been reading Cunt and one of the things that Inga Muscio discusses is how western cis women have been socialized to find their menstrual cycles disgusting, shameful, and unwanted. She learns about a different society that celebrates menstruation through menarche parties. She postulates about the change that could be made in how we feel about our cycles if we embraced such an outlook.

Secondly, I saw this post on stretch marks, particularly the part about "are they common." It says:

Yes, so many people have themFat people have them. Thin people have themModels have themAthletes have themVS Angels have them. Men, women, and those who don’t fit the gender binary. Young, old, and anywhere in between. Anyone can get them, and many do. They appear when skin stretches due to various types of growth, and everybody grows, so they’re more common than you might think. 
And it's true. I don't think I know many people who don't have at least a few stretch marks. So I couldn't help but take Muscio's line of thinking and wonder, what if stretch marks were revered? What if they were badges of honor? After all, for many bodies, they symbolize growing up, the passing of time, maturing, and/or creating new life.

Unfortunately, our culture didn't take that path. We are deeply misogynistic, fatphobic, and youth obsessed, so stretch marks are seen as "imperfections." But when you really, really think about it--why should the natural way that the body reacts to change be seen as imperfect? In reality, it's a perfect adaptation to allow growth and change.

So, seriously...what if we all decided that things like wrinkles and stretch marks shouldn't be dreaded, fussed over, and covered? What if we decided they were awesome?

Can you even get your mind in that place? It's hard, I know. But I imagine that in that world, teen girls would say stuff like, "Oh my gosh, Beth, your skin is so beautifully striped!" instead of "I hate my nasty stretch marks!" The entire anti-aging and stretch mark lotion industries would collapse. Many more people would feel comfortable in their bodies. We'd be proud of the changes that time takes on us, instead of deeply ashamed. And I suspect we'd probably stop thinking about our bodies in terms of minimizing imperfections.


  1. My boyfriend can be wonderfully naive sometimes. One day, he had his hand on my hip, and remarked that there were "ridges" on it. I had to explain to him what stretch marks were. He seemed to regard them as interesting. A few days later he told me he'd realized he had stretch marks on his legs. Didn't treat it as a negative, just thought it was interesting.

    I will say I can't imagine regarding menstruation a pleasant. It's rather painful, and before I got on birth control, I basically didn't function on the first day of my period because I was so dizzy.

    PS I just discovered your blog and am reading through your posts. You're awesome.


This blog has strict comment moderation intended to preserve a safe space. Moderation is managed solely by the blog author. As such, even comments made in good faith will be on a short delay, so please do not attempt to resubmit your comment if it does not immediately appear. Discussion and thoughtful participation are encouraged, but abusive comments of any type will never be published. The blog author reserves the right to publish/delete any comments for any reason, at her sole discretion.

TL;DR Troll comments are never published, so don't waste your time.