I Love Stretch Marks!
On the beauty of a supposed “flaw”. In my view, a feature to be celebrated.
I just love stretch marks.
They add that little fizz of something to the body that is fairly unique on humans — We’re so plain and smooth otherwise, even those of us on the hairier side. For all the beauty of our bodily forms, we’re a little dull in texture and pattern compared to say, a tiger or a giraffe! But then you find an area of stretch marks on your body and suddenly you’ve got stripes, or a little shimmer! How exciting!
I’ve got some on my bum, they radiate out from each hip across the buttocks, like waves coming through from the narrow opening of a bay. I’ve no idea when they formed, I don’t recall one particular moment when my bottom suddenly enlarged, but I guess such a moment must have occurred at some point for them to appear.
As someone who has had the good fortune to spend time with many other people while naked (due to being a nudist and photographer of nudes), I’ve been lucky enough to see a great variety of stretch marks on a great variety of bodies. To me, they always seem like a highlight, a feature, an exciting extra something that makes each body they appear on that little bit more special.
They can form just about anywhere on the body, but are especially common on our more fleshy bits that change with weight and age; the tummy, bum, breasts, or fleshier parts of arms and legs. Because of the dramatic nature of changing bodies at some points in our lives, they are especially likely to show up as a result of puberty, pregnancy, or changes in weight.
Sadly it seems that many of us see them as nothing but flaws; faults in the body that many would ideally like to see melt away; to regain the smooth even nothingness that once existed. Indeed a whole section of the beauty industry is built around selling magic potions to try and achieve exactly that effect. In doing so they seem to be explicitly stating that these are problems to be fixed.
But even if one of those potions does succeed in making some stretch marks less visible, the new version of your skin that forms will not be what it once was, but itself something new and different.
So many people buy into this idea that they need to be made to go away. Their mere existence to some, therefore, causes distress, and self-loathing; even to people who by conventional standards are exceptionally beautiful.
Yet simply by choosing to view them through a positive lens, they can become something to be celebrated and loved as a unique part of our individually special and beautiful bodies. A friend of mine described them as being as unique as fingerprints, and I’d imagine they are. How amazing is that? Each of us with stretch marks having a pattern on our bodies that is completely unique to us. How can that be anything other than a marvellous form of nature we should all take delight in?
Furthermore, they tell our stories, our history. They are a record on our body of moments of change. They are one of the clearest signs that our bodies are always travelling to the future, and the past versions of ourselves can never be remade, but do always form a part of who we are today. They are a marker that we never one version of ourselves, that every day our bodies grow, shift, renew, and age.
For their amazing visual patterns and textures, and all the meaning and history they imply, I think they are just delightful. They are not something that needs to be hidden or removed due to misplaced shame or disgust. I hope everyone else can eventually learn to see them as something special to each of us who has them; an amazing unique feature to be cherished.
This piece was inspired by a chat with my friend Zenny, who is also the bearer of the beautiful stretch marks seen above. She has modelled for me a couple of times before, and you can see our creations here and here.