I’m in my bedroom, standing in front of my full length mirror closet doors. I’m about to take a shower. I take off my top and stretch, moving the too tight bra straps that leave red marks on my shoulder. I see my soft and round stomach, a little pudgy and with a belly puffing out, a sign of a delicious dinner. I peel off my skinny jeans and my body starts feeling like its breathing for the first time that day. Putting on skinny jeans always remind me of stuffing sausages into casings.
In the past year, I’ve noticed my pants getting tighter, shirt buttons popping but I try not to waste time worrying about my body and size. After being an angsty teenager who hated looking in the mirror, I learned that it’s a useless exercise to agonize over the numbers.
I might gain weight, I might lose weight, I might need to go up a size, or I might not. After teenage years of torment, I finally feel like I can say that I like myself, my body and how I look. It took me a long time and a constant mantra still runs through my head reminding myself to love myself. I even tattooed a heart on my love handle to make sure it was permanently engraved in my brain.
So there I am, naked, standing in front of the mirror and I feel discouraged and upset. There they are, stretch marks. My eyes immediately zoom onto the red zebra-stripe looking marks that feel bumpy and form lines running down to my underwear. I hate them.
Since gaining some weight, I usually turn my back to the full length mirror, I can’t stand to see the stretch marks. At the same time, I’m fascinated by them and can’t help myself. I touch them, curious about the ridges they leave. I steal quick glances. They’re just there — marking my body, a blemish on my skin.
Like wrinkles or sun spots or scars, my stretch are evidence of an experience. They’re there, right on my body to show that I’ve grown. I wonder partly, if this why I hate them so much. Because as much as I try to shout out the negative voices that tell me I’m not the right size, I can’t say that I am happy with how I look all the time. The voice inside my head, that first went rampant at 15, comes back and tells me again that my stretch marks are evidence of my failure to lose weight. They’re the proof that I could eat better and could exercise more.
And suddenly I’m right back where I started, wondering why I couldn’t fit into the same clothes my friends could. I thought I was past this! I thought I loved my body! Hating my stretch marks makes me feel like a crappy person. I feel like I should know better, I feel like a hypocrite.
As much as I try to be happy every time I look into the mirror, I know that it won’t happen. Happy implies a constant contentness that I don’t possess. It’s only human to feel unhappy occasionally. Unhappiness doesn’t mean I don’t love my myself and my body. I accept my body (and my stretch marks) as part of myself which means I can feel love for them but that I can also look at them with the occasional unhappiness, and that’s okay.
The goal, at least for me, isn’t consistent happiness, it’s being able to look at myself and think, it’s okay. I don’t judge my self worth based on a few marks, and they aren’t proof or evidence of anything. Accepting my stretch marks means that I’m okay with hearing the 15-year-old voice every so often. She’s there, not as loud as before, and she doesn’t have power over me. Not anymore.Tags: #realtalk, alex cioppa, Alexandra Cioppa, body acceptance, body positivity, love your lines, loveyourlines, real talk, stretch marks