I am done hating my body, i am done hating its marks and scars and i am definitely done hiding because of what other people might think.
Recently i saw a little hashtag circulating the Twittersphere, the hashtag was #ScarredAndSexy and anyone who posted to it were posting words of encouragement, pictures of acne scars and talking about how they were so nervous taking and posting the photos because its such a huge insecurity. There were pictures of self harm scars with discussions about how they were either in the process of overcoming this bad head space or how they were well on their way to recovery and the scars, though represent a dark past, are a part of who that person is today. I admired the bravery of these people so much and the sheer honesty and fearlessness that it takes to do something like that, even if just in that moment they felt empowered and have since thought about deleting their posts once or twice only to find absolute love and support from everyone who was tweeting them back or commenting on their posts! It got me thinking, bravery is my “word of the year” which I might get into in another post if you’re interested but I also value honesty and fearlessness so much… which lead me to think to myself “why am I so afraid of a couple marks on my body?” they happen to most of the human population, you can be the fittest or thinest person alive and still end up with stretch marks, its a natural thing that can happen for a lot of different reasons. So why am I so sad about these marks on my body?
Thats when I realised, for me, my deep dislike for stretch marks isn’t the stretch marks themselves or where they appear its what they represent. For the two of you that don’t know, I suffer with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. The simplest way i could possibly explain what that is to you without going off on one is that CFS is a lot of tiredness and a bit of pain, whereas Fibro is a lot of pain and a bit of tiredness, now of course there is a lot more that goes into then that but I’m trying to keep this short! My point is, however, is that exercising and keeping fit – sometimes even brushing my teeth or having a bath – is the hardest thing for me to do! Due to the fact that I am already in a lot of pain, throw in a workout and thats magnified to an unbearable amount even with the drugs I take to try and help, on top of that, any form of exercise or exertion in general totally wipes me out, I am already running on the same amount of energy as if I’d gone to sleep at 4 and woken up at 7 and i have been for the past 7 years… as you can imagine, exercise on top of that puts me in bed for 3 weeks. Sometimes I can go to the gym twice a week for 2 – 3 weeks but it catches up with me eventually. No matter what I do, I pay the price.
So when I say the problem i have with stretch marks isn’t the stretch marks themselves but what it represents, what I mean is, my body is telling me that I need to move more, stretch marks is often caused my sudden weight gain but mostly by the blood in your body having crappy circulation, when you move, so does your blood and its a lot easier and the circulation is better but if you’re stuck in bed or in a chair (hello) for the majority of your time, your blood isn’t able to move around which creates clots and there you have it… stretch marks… because I am ill, my inability to exercise isn’t something I can control and I am a bit of a control freak so seeing my body say “hey do this more or this is gonna get worse” and being able to do nothing about it seriously gets me down. Also, with CFS and Fibro being pain and fatigue related, I am not used to seeing physical signs on my actual body of this illness, so its a whole new ball game. Having to be helped to sit up by my mum? Normal. Having to lay down after a 5 minute walk with the dog? Normal. Feeling so dizzy I have to sit on the floor no matter where I am in the world? Normal. Seeing something changing on my body because of something I can’t control and feeling embarrassed and ashamed about it? Thats new to me!
This feeling is only multiplied by 14,789 times when I step into the real world whether thats online or literally walking around outside. See, society and anyone who wants to sell us anything will use our insecurities and things we want to change about ourselves whether that be stretch marks, making more money, spots, raging skin, whatever! They use these things to sell us things that are going to “fix” it. I looked at my stretch marks and not only saw a health problem that I could do without having a physical reminder of every day but now I also see something thats undesirable, no one is going to want to be with you if you have stretch marks… What if I started going out with someone and he wanted to go to a pool or it was so hot in the summer if I didn’t wear shorts I’d die, what will he think? Would he leave me for someone better? It would be inappropriate for you to wear a dress or shorts because then they might see them on your leg and that would be humiliating! So I stuck to maxi dresses and long skirts last summer that made me all too hot. The sexualisation of women comes into play here a little too… now before you click off because you think I am a raging feminazi, let me give you an example. If a young woman – or women in general to be honest – is wearing shorts, you don’t think much of it, but if that woman has a… bigger butt suddenly its a problem, suddenly its inappropriate! So, because stretch marks are usually hidden away and the world seems to think that men don’t get them too (which is ridiculous and causes even more problems for the men that do) it becomes something that women should hide because they’re showing too much skin if their stretch marks are on show! How dumb is that?
To those things I now say this, if someone were attracted to me, found out I had stretch marks and that became a problem for them, I’d walk right out the door and never look back because who needs that sort of person in their life? No one. That is of course assuming that I came across someone like that and my fear came to life… If anyone finds it inappropriate for me to be fully dressed in shorts and a t-shirt on a hot summers day but to be able to see my stretch marks to them I say “screw you mate” and if someone were to find it inappropriate for them to even be on show, they’d get a pretty similar response!
I am so tired of getting excited for summer (which is my favourite time of year and like most, helps me with my mental health in ways you could never imagine) only to start trying to pair outfits together or get dressed in the morning to end up having a little (a big) cry on my bed with clothes all around me and go out the door in jeans because i am too ashamed.
I am tired of shying away from beaches and pools because I don’t think I look good enough to be wearing the right attire. No word of a lie, at the age of 13 the age when I didn’t even have any stretch marks, I was just insecure about myself like you wouldn’t believe, my family and i took a trip to a beach with an adventure park right next to it filled with roller coasters and lots of candy floss, I wore dark denim full length jeans because they were slimming, a long sleeve t-shirt underneath that turned out to be a little too tight but with no time to change instead of just wearing the top that felt a little tight i threw on a cardigan (sweater) on top of that because I DIDNT WANT ANYONE TO THINK I WAS FAT.
I didn’t go on a trip to fricken Italy with a best friend which would have brought us so close together and let her go with someone else because I knew she would want to be at the beach and by the pool for the whole time.
I am 19 years old, I might be ill, but I eat well, I look after myself, I am kind and I try to be a nice person and thats what matters, looking after yourself and the people around you.
This winter, after spending countless years telling everyone and myself that I didn’t like the beach, all i want to do is play in the sand and listen to the sea crash against the rocks. It is a lot easier for me, in this moment to say “yeah I wanna go to the beach and wear a bikini and not give a shit” but when it comes to actually doing it in the summer, i can only hope that this new found appreciation for myself and my body and the God that made me will be strong enough to make me as fearless as the people posting photos with the hashtag ‘Scarred and Sexy’