You'll never look at stretch marks the same again... I hope.
Ten years ago, I lost 60 pounds. This was when I reached 172 pounds, which at 5'0 was a size 14-16 and didn't feel like me. It wasn't even my highest weight, which was 200 pounds when I was pregnant with my first child almost 17 years ago. Weight issues ran in my family and my stomach was my nemesis. Yes, my very own body part was, even when I was thinner.
But I decided I earned the "right" to wear a bikini because I worked so hard at getting in shape. It wasn't perfect, but it was good enough. Of course, I had no foundation of self-love, so I still saw my 110 lb. body had a pooch. That pooch was from having my two kids. Fast-forward to now. I am 37, and my fifth child is five months old. I was on page 102 of the May issue of Oprah Magazine answering the question," What do you love about your body?" I answered, "My belly." Regardless of anyone else's standards, I feel a responsibility to my daughters and even my sons to practice what I believe about loving our bodies completely. I have stretch marks and I'm sexy as hell.
Because I feel that way.
I own it.
I define who I am. Why would stretch marks take away from my beauty or any other woman's? Nature's stripes, those lines on my body, are a map of where I've been and the road I've taken. Stripes are always in style too, right? Those magic marks lead to birth and the whole damn pregnancy thing is seriously magic. I mean... really, we make a human being in less than a year. It's a miracle. From here on out, they shall forever more be called goddess tattoos. Each of those goddess tattoos tells a story as well. From that bulimic teen to overweight adult, through five pregnancies, weight losses, self-loathing and hard work, my goddess tattoos have led me to become a confident, happy woman. Lots have bloomed out of that womb.
What lives in my belly is not limited to fat, muscle, food or even babies... it's fire.
It's the same way I feel about women's curves or their wrinkles. We can be in shape, take care of ourselves and work on health and wellness... but these bodies are supposed to be fun. Body obsession is not healthy. You're not taking this puppy with you. When you die, it's not going with you. So relax and enjoy it. Let's stop shaming ourselves and other women over our "flaws!"
Here's what I've encountered when I've posted pictures of my abs:
"I'm surprised someone hasn't told you about this firming cream."
"You look great for just having a baby."
"You look good for having five kids."
"You're brave for showing your stretch marks."
"Because you showed your body in a bikini, which isn't perfect, I feel better."
I get so many wonderful comments, but sometimes people don't realize what they say. They don't realize it's an insult wrapped in a compliment. You can never go wrong with the comment: "Beautiful." I truly see every woman as beautiful, not in different degrees, levels or values, but rather flavors. If a woman posts a picture in a dress, I wouldn't say, "You're really brave for wearing that dress with that big ass." If you would post that, it's rude, and that's letting the culture of media define what's acceptable as beautiful, as in young and thin. Bullsh*t. If you're truly happy with yourself and LOVE everything about yourself, you would not write mean comments on un-Photoshopped bodies.
Let's rewrite this story for the next generation. When you see a lady you know on the street or even one you don't know post a picture online, tell her, "You look beautiful." It's such a powerful thing. She feels good and you feel good. It's a win-win.
My body is my temple. I will treat it as such. When a temple is less shiny, gets older and has a few cracks, it is still worthy of adoration. You don't tear it down when you see a perfect building that's built right beside it. Because the temple is holy. And there is so much love that goes in inside of it, the structure is solid and foundation is Divine. Love your body always. Embrace your beauty. Never feel bad about yourself for one moment. It's hogwash to think you need it for growth. You can know on a deeper level your own worthiness. The lesson is just to step into it and owning your Divine brilliance.
Don't apologize for your wrinkles, your opinion, your thighs, your voice, your cellulite, or your past. Just shut up about, you sexy thang, and celebrate by living.
And DO NOT make women into body parts, my sisters of the world. NEVER comment negatively on another women's body part, unless you want your daughter to think that is what we do as ladies. Judging another woman's body harshly is judging your own... surgically enhanced or not. Also, to society, when you comment about my beautiful Buddha girl baby with her big belly and even bigger smile, "What are you feeding her? She's so... fat, pudgy, chunky, huge, never misses a meal," remember you said my sons that were the same size were, "healthy, strong, Buddha, gonna be a football players," and your tone was different. There is a judgement in your joke that made me want to punch you in the face, but my heart knows the media set this dynamic up. What I can do is shatter stereotypes, build women's self-esteem, speak my truth, call out baloney when I see it, and keep preaching self-love. Way too many women have shame about their bodies. Shame cannot live where love does. We're really are all in this together, chickies, and never forget, you're a goddess.