Stretch Marks: A Journey to Body Acceptance

Guest Author: KARINA  KARUNWI

Full-time Project Engineer and the founder of The Ere Collective

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We are in the middle of the Body Positivity Revolution. The likes of Ashley Graham and other plus-sized models are breaking glass ceilings. Brands are catching on and are finally beginning to design non-frumpy clothing for larger women.

Let’s face facts-being Body Positive in 2020 is lucrative because hashtag self love, right? As much as it is a conversation that’s long overdue, I have my reservations about it. Body positivity just isn’t realistic. A constant celebration of our bodies feels artificial and like a grand marketing scheme.

You know what does feel more realistic? Body acceptance. Learning to feel comfortable in our bodies and recognising when we don’t-because there will be days that we don’t. We can have days where we don’t notice our stretch marks because we have become so accustomed to them. Sometimes, we experience those bursts of empowerment where we can honestly call our stretch marks our ‘tiger stripes’ and love them. We can also have days where adverts for creams that claim to fade stretch marks are more appealing. These three instances are real and are not mutually exclusive.

A really important aspect of developing a healthier body image is learning to be comfortable in your skin-literally. As you may have noticed, I’m not one for airy-fairy self-love quotes so I’m going to break down how this can be done practically. Also, I love a good bullet pointed list.

1.Moisturise, slowly.

At the start of 2019, I promised myself that I would spend more time with my skin. Think clay masks, shea butter and body oils. Watching yourself in mirrors as you use your body lotions, creams, oils or shea butter allows you to know & appreciate every curve, scar, lump and bump on your body. This practice creates a connection to your femininity that is difficult to explain; it can only be experienced. The confidence a woman exudes when she understands her body for herself is unmatched because she is comfortable in it

2.Exfoliate, slowly.

Similarly to moisturising, exfoliation creates space for us to really spend time with our skin. I think it’s important to unlearn the ‘removal of stretch marks and dark areas’ benefit when it comes to skin care and focus on the actual caring. Stretch marks are not harmful. They are natural and very common. Aside from the countless benefits of exfoliating and moisturising, it creates room to slow down and really spend time with our bodies.

3.Study your stretch marks

Observe them without shame-their shape, their colour, their position, their lengths. Avoid comparison or judgement. Remind yourself that awareness is power. What could be more powerful than being fully aware of every detail on your body-your home.

4. Invest in lingerie; for you

I have this thing that I do. I have eased myself into spending time in front of mirrors with little, and now nothing, on. Buying and wearing underwear that I love has made me want to admire the underwear and therefore, myself in the underwear. Being a plus-sized woman who had gained weight and did not feel comfortable in my body, it was difficult for me at first. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror and would watch as negative self-talk flooded my mind.

I began practicing my 5-for-1 rule. For every one negative thing I said about my body, I had to tell myself five positive things about the same body-right then in that moment. Being someone who had an eating disorder for 8 years of her life, this has been monumental in my journey to developing a healthy body image.

Unlearning negative self-talk is a marathon, not a sprint-so why not do that ‘running’ in lingerie that makes you smile and sparks joy? #KonMariMethod 😉

5.Practise #SelfcareSunday (without the Issa-Molly messiness)

Finally, do what you need to do to recharge on a Sunday. Stretch marks are physical however, health and wellness start in the mind before they are reflected in the body. Listen to new music, go for a run, spend time journaling/praying/meditating, watch a couple of movies… whatever adds to your wellness.

Remember, body acceptance is a marathon-not a sprint. Stay patient and true to yourself.

 

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