Do you have stretch marks? If you don’t you’re in the minority as an estimated 80% of people have some sort of stretch marks.
Pregnancy and puberty are two of the biggest causes, as both situations cause rapid growth, as the skin stretches to accommodate this growth slight indentations / discolored streaks can appear. Recently formed stretch marks will often be red and glossy but overtime they can become silver in colour and take on a scar like appearance. Most commonly they appear on the thighs, belly, breasts, hips and bum and whilst more common in women also affect many men.
Stretch marks are almost anticipated in some circumstances, such as pregnancy, and many women will use oils etc. to try and reduce the effect once they discover they are pregnant. We are often more surprised by stretch marks which occur as part of a fitness programme.
It feels somewhat unfair that making an effort to improve your fitness can lead to stretch marks but rapid weight gain (and even rapid weight loss) can cause stretch marks, so if you are working to build muscle you may see the odd mark form (I recently noticed some stretchmarks on my bicep as my arms have become more defined), and if you find yourself yo yo dieting (rapidly loosing and then gaining weight) you again could find yourself with new stretch marks.
So actually stretch marks are something that is fitness related. Especially if you’ve had some form of body transformation and changed your appearance dramatically it can be a shock to reach your goal but then find unexpected body changes such as loose skin and stretch marks.
It is of course another good reason to encourage slow and steady change over the dramatic but even then lots of people will still find themselves with a couple of stretch marks.
To be fair, many will fade over time, some might fade so much that they are barely visible and there are things you can use (bio oil, moisterisers) which can help reduce their visibility, and if you want to do that why not- we are all entitled to do anything which help boost our confidence.
However, equally, they should be something we are able to embrace and accept about our body. Much like periods, which are discussed openly more often now but this is a recent change, many people are ashamed and try and hide their stretch marks (sarongs on the beach, long sleeve tops covering your arms and so on). The most bonkers thing is, that not only do most people have stretch marks but they affect both sexes so it’s a bit bonkers that we are so embarrassed about them – most of us have them but try and disguise the fact we do.
I don’t want to sound like I’m preaching. I remember the first time I found stretch marks on my thighs as a teenager, and my distress when my mum told me that there was nothing I could do to get rid of them but they would probably fade over time. When you are a fourteen year old girl being told the big red streaks on your legs are there to stay knocks your confidence and I rarely wore skirts without tights after that.
Equally, I know I’ve been really lucky as I’ve gained significant weight and then lost that much and more over my adult life and in more recent years gained a fair bit of muscle (growth) and have managed to pick up only a few small stretch marks (which have also faded quite well over time and are now more like little fine purple lines), so me saying be more accepting about them is easy enough, I understand when any kind of marking is more visible it naturally will affect self confidence more.
So I’m not suggesting everyone should walk around half naked to display them (well unless they want to, and even then you probably shouldn’t go to work in a bikini) but if you have some and they make you feel self conscious remember that for every 10 people you work with or talk to today, 8 will have stretch marks too. It’s often said that if you got stretch marks from pregnancy to think of them like a badge of pride (which you should) but equally if you have them on your arms and legs because you lost lots of weight or gained more muscle they are still marks showing you achievement.
There’s a lot more emphasis on social media about being more accepting of your body, it’s imperfections and being OK with not being perfect – stretch marks are really just another thing to accept as a normal part of your body doing what it does and serving you a purpose across your life.
Whilst I’m here by the way- cellulite. You know 80-90% of women have that too… I’d take a picture of that but it’s really hard to take a photo of the back of your own legs…