If you haven’t seen it yet, this week’s viral story of a Mother who was taunted by passers-by as she sunbathed in her bikini has sparked outrage in the female world. Tanis Jex-Blake was happily relaxing in her bikini on the beach when she looked up to see two men and a woman standing over her – taunting and pretending to kick her as she lay on the ground helplessly.
Tanis explained that she was ‘discreetingly’ trying to sunbathe for the first time in 13 years, after giving birth left stretch marks on her stomach. After the incident left her in tears, she decided to post a picture of herself and explain the incident on Facebook – and soon afterwards her story went viral. Shortly after her exposure, Mothers have been staging mass ‘bikini protests’ in support of embracing their bodies, stretch marks and all, in a #bareyourbelly rally. In light of this exposure, we decided to look at two different attitudes towards stretch marks – erase or embrace?
We all know that stretch marks can occur with pregnancy; certain skins just don’t have enough elasticity to stretch that far – we’re not all comic book characters! But should we just accept this common, natural occurrence and embrace our ‘baby scars’, or should we follow the steps to prevention and treatment to continue to be ‘like everyone else’?
Let’s look at the science. The NHS tells us:
“They (Stretch Marks) develop when the skin is stretched suddenly and the middle layer of your skin (the dermis) breaks in places, allowing the deeper layers to show through” (NHS Choices UK, 2012).
Common causes of Stretch Marks include:
- Rapid weight gain or weight loss
- Physical growth during puberty.
Various life events and changes can cause stretch marks to appear on different areas of the body, and during pregnancy stretch marks appear most commonly across the lower part of the stomach. Although natural, they can be prevented to a certain extent through the use of certain creams and oils – but would you rather just leave them be?
The ‘Erase’ View
Stretch marks are not a ‘wanted’ side effect of pregnancy. We all want to have a healthy, happy baby, but we don’t all want the stretch marks too. The treatments are out there for a reason – and most are reasonably inexpensive and easy-to-use. Women face enough body critique without the addition of more scars to contend with. Treat them, and get your normal pre-baby body back!
The ‘Embrace’ View
So, in theory, stretch marks are a natural occurrence. Much like moles, freckles, wrinkles etc they are part of your genetic make-up. And besides, ‘scars tell stories.’ They are tales from your life story – a body map drawn onto the skin, pin-pointing specific events which can be the subject of many conversations…just like a tattoo…well, an involuntary one. So why erase them? Keep them, embrace them, and be proud of them – giving birth is most definitely a life achievement worth celebrating!
Whatever you decide, just remember it’s your body, not anyone else’s! Love yourself for who you are and what you are and forget the rest.