Why I (want to) love my stretch marks, my “tiger stripes”

My skin is a canvas. The stretch marks on my hips look like broad brushstrokes -expressive, bold, and heavy-handed. Mother Nature is a fabulous Fauve, energetically and impulsively painting my body with vivid and repetitive lines. The once vibrant purple-y pink marks have now faded to a translucent, silvery gray.

“Things happen that leave a mark in space, in time. In us.” Pregnancy and motherhood undoubtedly are “things” that leave marks on our bodies, on our hearts. On our minds.

Even before having two children, I had stretch marks. On my butt. On my hips. On my thighs. Silkily winding across my body. These stretch marks on my body have deepened and become more pronounced since my two pregnancies. I even have a few new marks on my abdomen, which looks like soft and droopy crepe paper after the party’s over.

I used cocoa butter while pregnant with my first, but didn’t apply it to my expanding skin as often as I would’ve liked. My husband ordered me a body pillow and accompanying skin cream. (Little did I know that this self-care mama was a “stay-in-bed mom” in the making.)

With my second, I didn’t have time or energy to take the five minutes to slather on cocoa butter. Lazy, I know. And pathetic. But it’s the truth. I had a toddler to chase around and teenagers to teach.

Sometimes I wonder. What if I had respected my skin? Would I still have stretch marks? Would they be as noticeable?

Enough with the “what ifs”, ” the woulda, coulda, shouldas”. I have a body. And this body is mine, stretch marks and all. My body stretched to accommodate life. Isn’t that an extraordinary, miraculous thing, something worth celebrating?

I’ll be honest, I don’t love my post-pregnancy body. But I don’t hate my body either. I tolerate it. But what if I could learn to love my body?

A Spanish artist, Cinta Tort Cartró who goes by the artist name Zinteta, helps women do just this. Her empowering art celebrates each woman’s body and what makes it unique- freckles, marks, scars, and stains. She used to hate her stretch marks, but has grown to love them. Rather than hide the marks, Zinteta highlights them with paint – seeing the stretch marks as triumphant bursts of feminine power. She claims, how can you love yourself if you don’t accept everything, all of your so-called flaws.

We all have goals and stretch goals. My stretch goal, starting today, is to love my body as it is. Not what I want it to be in the future.

Please join me in front of the mirror for a positive self-talk exercise.

  1. Go in the bathroom and close the door. (But make sure the children are safe!)
  2. Disrobe.
  3. Play a feel-good song of your choice. (I’m playing Katy Perry’s “Roar”, a favorite of my three-year-old son.)
  4. Gaze into the mirror.
  5. Touch your stretch marks and repeat after me: “These aren’t stretch marks. They’re tiger stripes.”


A Final Thought – From the Pillow

Mother Nature/ your children left a mark(s!) on you.

So love the skin you’re in. You earned your [tiger] stripes. Let singer Katy Perry [or fill in the blank] be your inner voice, “…I earned my stripes / I went from zero, to my own hero.”

Did you get stretch marks from your pregnancy(ies)? If so, how do you feel about them? Have your thoughts evolved over time? How does your partner feel about your “stripes”?

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