Please stop telling me to love my stretch marks.

I like myself. I'm new to liking myself honestly. But the truth is that I do. I don't always love my behavior, but I do always love myself. I also love my body. It is nothing short of a miracle. It enables me to do so many amazing things and really, gives me life. I have never loved my body more than in the process of delivering my kids. For the first time I saw by body as a miraculous tool with a divine purpose rather than a vessel to hold all my imperfections and insecurities. That feeling has always stuck with me and reminded me to respect my body in times when I could only see its flaws. I love my body, I respect my body. I love my body, but that doesn't mean I adore everything about it.

Comparison is always a deadly game, but especially when it comes to bodies. Even more so when you take it to the postpartum body level. The truth is that pregnancy just doesn't impact everyone's body the same. We all gain different weight in different places, stretch out in different ways, and are left with varying levels of destruction afterward. As someone who was once told by my doctor that I had one of the worst cases of stretch marks he had ever seen, it felt a little more than unfair to see women with smooth, tight torso skin post baby. If stretch marks must be a thing, they should be a thing for everyone. Misery loves company I guess. 

I know I am not alone in struggling to accept my post baby body. In reality, I was never good at accepting my pre-baby body so it really isn't shocking. I started noticing articles popping up all over telling me to embrace my new body, and to wear my stretch marks with pride. Telling me I should focus on the gratitude for what these scars represented. No shame, only love and celebration. I get it, but for some reason I felt like they were missing something. 

This is my body. I only get one. This is me. Suddenly I am looking in the mirror at something completely foreign to me. Experiencing such rapid weight gain accompanied my permanent scarring is rough. In that moment, I didn't need to hear that I should be grateful. I needed to mourn. I needed to mourn the loss of my body as it was. I needed time to accept  what had happened to me. Give me a minute to process this change. A permanent change to your body is a big old deal. 

I realize weight gain and stretch marks seem trivial in the grand scheme of things. I know how blessed I am to have a healthy, strong body. I obviously feel my kids were worth it all. But please allow me to adapt to getting comfortable in my skin. I have come a long way. I hardly notice my stomach now, mostly because I have simply been able to accept it as part of me, as part of my story. I have a respect for it almost. I would be lying though if I claimed to wear them with pride or as a badge of honor. I don't. They aren't my favorite. I still get jealous of those who "bounce back" beautifully post baby. But they do not define my body, and they surely do not define me. I love my body, and I accept it as it is now. I had the right to mourn my loss, and the right to take my time processing and accepting the new normal. It isn't something you can force. Understanding that loving my body didn't require me to love every detail, but rather to accept and respect it as it is has brought me to a place of peace with it. 

xoxo Julie

4 comments

  1. I am so in love with how you said this. That's how I've been feeling this whole time. Thank you!

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  2. Well, I'll be the company for your misery! I have never personally seen another stomach like mine, so ravaged by stretch marks! I find myself feeling super envious of friends with smooth post baby bellies. Even my kids point and ask, " what happened?" when I change in front of them. Sigh. I'm growing to accept my stomach and I actually really like that, when they ask, it's a good opportunity to answer my kids with confidence and self love (even if I'm not feeling it inside yet.) ❤️

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