Like a lot Chrissy Teigen fans, I feel a deep sense of reassurance whenever she shares a photo of her stretch marks. Dare I say happiness, even? I do.
In fact, maybe it's the reason I am such a Chrissy Teigen fan.
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen)
I know she's a model, which can make any body image stuff coming from her somewhat eye-rolly. I know her stretch marks aren't especially dramatic, as those things go. But neither of those things takes away from the power of her message—which isn't "Stretch marks are beautiful", or "I earned these by going through the powerful battle of growing a human."
It's way simpler. It's just, "I have stretch marks." Or in Teigen's words, "Whatevs."
Weirdly, that's all I need to feel better about my own stretch marks. To know other people have them.
it's a topic I'm passionate about - my entire first album is called Stretch Marks 🙂 https://t.co/ODMHP2i3Pp
— SuCh (@SuCh)
They're very normal. It's hard to find exact stats, but many estimates put it up at around 90 percent of women, especially during pregnancy. (A lot of men have them too; I'm less interested in that here.)
But we treat them like a mistake. Maybe it's something to do with their cause: Stretch marks or"striae" come from tearing of the lower layers of your skin, often after sudden growth—like growing a baby, say, or growing, you know, your own legs.
I've never had a baby. The stretch marks on my bum, thighs, calves, and breasts started appearing when I was 12, and laced their way across my body from there. For a very long time, I hated them. I still don't like them. But thanks to a Tweet from a model, I feel better about just…having them.
Growing up, I never saw stretch marks anywhere. It was before social media, before you could search hashtags, before I really used Google, come to think of it. Oddly, I don't remember them on my mom or many sisters—and our household was what you might call "relaxed" about wearing clothes.
But you know what? Probably because they're generally not very noticeable to anyone except their owner.
(Disclaimer: My stretch marks aren't too severe. Cry me a river, I'm sure you're thinking. But in a way, that's the point. I was still obsessed with them, because I'd learned they were something awful. This is before I even grew boobs, so I can only imagine how women feel after stretching enough to fit in a baby human.)
I remember the first day I noticed the purple lines on my legs, and asked my mother what they were. My body-positive, liberated mom, who adores women's bodies in all forms, who's given birth to six children, who tried to hold me back from the triage of shaving and waxing and plucking as long as she could. To this day, it's one of the only times she ever showed any dismay about my appearance. I think she felt responsible—guilty, in fact—that she hadn't taught me to moisturize, or fed me enough vitamin E, or done whatever the necessary witchcraft was to keep my skin "pristine".
Because when even The New York Times refers to something as a "bane", it's hard to feel neutral about it. The Wikipedia page lists one of the "symptoms" of stretch marks as "emotional distress". Imagine if people talked like that about freckles.
Why I like Teigen so much is that she breaks the chain on all the doom and gloom. I like that she doesn't go too mystic on it, either (though there's plenty of room for that—check out if you're in the mood for some solidarity).
Teigen's body isn't broken, or overstretched. It's also not holy, or magical, or a shrine to motherhood. It might conform conveniently to some crazy beauty standards, but it's just a body. Like mine.
And every time she posts a photo of it, I relax a little bit more.