Columns / Discourse / November 1, 2017

On loving your body through the stretch marks

I remember going on a visit to the city with my mom and being dressed in black shorts. While she was in some store I looked down and noticed long dark marks appearing on the inner parts of my thighs. I looked up and felt like everyone who was rushing to work and different places throughout Chicago was looking directly at the new marks on my body.

I knew that this was a common mark on bodies and I should not have been as offended as I was whilst sitting in Chicago, but instead I started to tear up. I quickly put the thought out of my head and waited for my mom, as I was originally doing.

For weeks after that incident, I looked up different remedies to get rid of stretch marks and a million ways to lose weight quickly. Summer was coming up quick and I gained more weight than I wanted to admit to myself. The start of the summer was the worst that I ever felt about the way I looked. But why? Why did the marks on my thighs and hips matter so much to me, when literally no one other than myself said anything about them?

This seems to be a common problem for society. The media starts to poison minds about how your body should look as early as the age of five. By the age of six, many children in America are aware of what a diet is. These young minds are taking in the ideas from the internet, peers and adults to form opinions about their bodies. When asking children at a young age what an ideal body should be, they will almost always say a size under the one they are currently.

Negative body images have been implanted into brains for many years and body positivity is trying to break down the wall that was built up around it. For the past couple of years, a couple posts at a time will pop up about how to start to love your body for what it is.

Body positivity is wildly underrated. I know it can be nearly impossible to say that you are proud of what you look like at that moment, but that may be the first step to a better outlook on yourself and life in general. A positive body image is being able to look in the mirror and understand that you are beautiful and unique just how you are.

Not everyone is going to look the same, so why are we trying so desperately to alter how we look to form this impossible image that appears in media we consume and dolls we buy.

It doesn’t help that when scrolling through social media, you see millions of people bashing bigger girls for wearing crop tops or bikinis, skinny girls for having smaller body portions and men not having muscles. Not being complicit after seeing these messages is the first act of resistance against the body hatred. This is when you wear a crop top no matter the size or post a selfie to Instagram just because you know you look great.

Body positivity can feel like an impossible task because of the way society raised us, yet knowing your worth will ultimately make you a stronger and happier person. Why do we need to hate our waist size when we could be loving ourselves with each step we take?

So today, as I see the stretch marks laced around my legs, I am reminded of how terrible I felt about myself on that day in Chicago, but how proud I am to be learning to love myself for who I am. I have been through tough days where I forget my body’s worth, but it doesn’t take much to remind myself that I’m still as beautiful as ever.

 

Sadie Cheney

Tags:  body positivity self love stretch marks

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