Everything You Need To Know About Stretch Marks

In the spirit of body positivity, some people will find a way to romanticize anything that our society marginalizes, even to cringe worthy levels. You know, like those Tumblr posts that go on about how stretch marks are scars of survival from all the battles you’ve fought, so on and so forth. It’s…not that deep. Like, I get it, it’s better to do that than to hate on them. But I kind of prefer the approach that model Barbie Ferreira took a few weeks ago when she posted a photo of her stretch marks on Instagram. “Mi lil stripes are out here,” she wrote. “Soothing them with vitamin e oil n noticing how cute my body can be despite lil changes !!!”

mi lil stripes are out here . soothing them with vitamin e oil n noticing how cute my body can be despite lil changes !!!

A photo posted by barbie ferreira not nox (@barbienox) on

Normalizing stretch marks without a bunch of flowery, over the top language? Hell. Yes. Here for it.

Her post received a lot of positive feedback, but some of the responses also suggested that people really don’t know as much about stretch marks as they think they do. People were suggesting treatments for getting rid of them, others thought the coloring was off, and some didn’t even know where stretch marks came from, all proving that they’ve bought into a lot of misconceptions and misinformation. So let’s clear everything up right here and right now, shall we? Here’s everything you need to know about stretch marks.

 

What exactly are stretch marks and how do they occur?

Stretch marks are scars that develop from the tearing of the dermis, which is a layer of skin that essentially cushions the body from stress and strain. Speaking of stress and strain, that’s exactly what happens to the skin when its stretched.

alice in wonderland growing

This stretching usually occurs during a period of rapid growth or weight change. Then–ta da–you’ve got yourself some stretch marks.
 

Wait, I thought that stretch marks were proof that you are or were fat. Or, like, pregnant.

my mad fat diary rae snark

People get stretch marks from all sorts of things. Yes, weight gain, weight loss, and pregnancy can cause them, but so can just plain ole’ growing. You know, like going through puberty and getting taller or developing breasts. You can even develop them when you’re building up a lot of muscle; body builders are super susceptible to stretch marks.
 

So it’s not weird that I have stretch marks on my boobs?

slums of beverly hills bra scene

Not at all! It’s actually pretty normal. I mean, anyone who has gone through puberty has seen an increase in their breast size, right? It’s like you wake up one day and bam, you’ve got like…actual titties. Well, your skin might not adjust to this new fact quite as well as your mood might, which is why you might notice some stretch marks on your breasts.
 

Can stretch marks come in different colors? My friend’s stretch marks are super light and barely noticeable, but mine are pretty dark.

They absolutely can. Personally, my stretch marks are on the light side; I have brown skin and they look like little white lines crawling across my skin, but that might just mean that they’re older. Most newer stretch marks actually appear in a reddish purple hue. It really depends, you get what you get.
 

Okay, but how long do stretch marks stick around?

so sorry

Well, technically they never go away. They can, however, fade over time.
 

Uh, wait a minute. I thought that applying cocoa butter makes them fade away!

awkward-raven

Okay, ready to have your mind blown? Cocoa butter…doesn’t do a damn thing. In fact, there isn’t a single topical remedy that is clinically proven to prevent or remove stretch marks. Nope, no cream, oil, or lotion is going to get rid of those bad boys, so you can stop obsessively slathering on layers of product. They just won’t penetrate your skin deep enough to do anything. Vitamin oils and butters can, of course, moisturize your skin wonderfully, and if your stretch marks are pronounced or irritated, they can be great for soothing purposes.
 

But those commercials say–

Yeah, bogus. They get away with that by stating that they’ll fade the appearance of your stretch marks, but again, dry or irritated skin might make stretch marks more pronounced, to the lotion might help out with that which can, in turn, make the stretch marks seem less severe…but it’s not actually getting rid of them.

seinfeld-shrug

Okay, but there has to be some way to lessen the appearance of stretch marks, right?

Some people try to reduce the appearance of stretch marks the way they might want to reduce the appearance of an acne scar, but using products that produce cell turnover (skin renewal) and boost collagen. Chemical peels and prescription grade retinol can help minimize the appearance of stretch marks, but those only really help out fresher stretch marks on the purple/reddish side; “mature” stretch marks that are white or gray won’t see much of a chance. Some people even resort to microdermabrasion treatments or laser surgery, but they’re not cure-alls either.
 

But I hate my stretch marks!

We’ve been socialized to see stretch marks as unsightly, so I understand that stretch marks can cause a major drop in confidence, especially if they’re highly visible.

black woman with stretch marks

But here are the facts: Stretch marks never go away entirely, and being upset about them isn’t going to make anything any better. Your best bet is to wait it out until they potentially fade and become less visible. And in the meantime, learn to ignore them or embrace them. Honestly, everyone has stretch marks–yes, people of all shapes and sizes–and nobody is paying attention to yours nearly as much as you are.  I mean, do you notice your friends’ stretch marks? Probably not, because you’re not looking for them and you probably don’t give a damn.

If moisturizing them makes your skin feel better and convinces you that they don’t look as pronounced, go for it. Otherwise? You’ve just gotta deal, dude. Trust me, you’ll survive, and maybe normalizing them will help destroy the ridiculous stigma that surrounds them.

Do you have stretch marks that you’re totally chill with, or do they make you feel self-conscious? Tell us in the comments!

You can follow the author, Ashley Reese, on Twitter or Instagram. Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite!

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