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Stop forcing me to see you not hating yourself!

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Thursday night, I was clicking around BuzzFeed and found this article about how stretch marks aren’t that bad and there’s a trend now of women who are taking pictures showing their stretch marks and saying, hey, this isn’t gross or imperfect, almost everybody has these. One would think that a post like this is fairly harmless. One has never been on the internet.

Stretch marks aren’t lovely or ugly. They’re a sign that your insides outgrew your outsides a little too quickly and nothing more. They’re not something to flaunt or cover up. They just exist. I don’t view my stretch marks as scars or badges of honor. This whole “pro body image” thing that has been all over media lately is getting old.

That was one of the first comments I read on the story. This comment is the perfect informational tool, if you ever need to teach someone about the standard format for incendiary internet comments. First, it starts off with a perfectly rational statement of opinion, with some fact:

Stretch marks aren’t lovely or ugly. They’re a sign that your insides outgrew your outsides a little too quickly and nothing more.

Then we get into some dodgy territory:

They’re not something to flaunt or cover up.

The comment has now moved from statement of opinion to judgment of a hypothetical person’s actions, which will never affect the commenter’s life in any way. The commenter isn’t just saying, “I don’t believe my stretch marks are something I would want to flaunt or cover up,” they’re saying, “All stretch marks are not something to flaunt or cover up.”

Then we move back to personal opinion:

They just exist. I don’t view my stretch marks as scars or badges of honor.

Before we land on this whopper:

This whole “pro body image” thing that has been all over media lately is getting old.

Excuse me?

A large portion of the comments section on this article take exception not to the existence of stretch marks (although there were comments to that effect, including a mom who said she covers her stretch marks “out of respect for myself and my kids.”), but to the very idea that women would celebrate something they see as a flaw in order to normalize it and feel better about themselves.

This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed these types of objections to people taking a body positivity stand. We see these positions every summer when plus-sized bloggers talk about their experiences on the beach. There was recently a mother who had stretch marks and a saggy tummy who wore a bikini and wrote a think piece about it, and similar comments were made. Somehow, for some reason, a stranger liking their own body is such a powerful, threatening prospect that people can’t stand to let it go by without comment. Why is that? A different commenter gives us insight:

Because when you are satisfied with anything in life you stop trying to make it better […] Body positivity and delusional ranting aside… making people feel better about things they want to change only temporarily makes them feel better. Get it now?

Feeling good about yourself in spite of flaws you’d like to change (but, in the case of stretch marks, you simply can’t), makes you feel satisfied. And if you feel satisfied, you don’t want to change. And you should never not want to change something about your body. You need to be in a constant state of dissatisfaction with yourself, and always striving for unobtainable perfection, because that’s the life this person has chosen to torture themselves with.

And of course, that commenter goes on the same thread to boast that she has no stretch marks, and tells a woman who doesn’t agree with her, “Enjoy your stretch marks, sweetie,” indicating that, for her at least, the preoccupation we have with policing each others’ bodies isn’t about striving for excellence or health or any sort of philosophical ideal, but ranking each other in terms of worth according to proximity to physical perfection. Our opinions, feelings, and self-worth are invalid if we’re not shaming ourselves into an oblivion of apologies for our imperfect bodies.

It didn’t surprise me that the majority of the negative comments about the stretch mark selfies were coming from people who appeared to be young women who were slender, on the conventionally attractive end of the facial prettiness scale, and made up with cosmetics and styled hair. Yes, I am making a judgement based on appearances here, but stay with me. They have achieved, either through hard work, genetic luck, or camera angles, but most likely a combination of all three, to present themselves to the internet as a woman as close to the traditional western standards of beauty as they can possibly be. They have put on make up, dyed their hair, posed with their timidly bent index finger resting on their bottom lip like they’re auditioning to be the star of a creepy 1970’s Love’s Baby Soft ad. They’ve done all of this, and someone else, someone who hasn’t done all of these things, has the audacity to take a photo not just of themselves, but of a flaw that most women cover up, and they’re receiving attention for it. Attention that should rightfully be lavished upon the women crying foul in the comments section. And why do they feel entitled to the prioritization of their beauty over another woman’s? Because we have all been taught that this is not just the social order, but the moral order.

When it comes to our bodies, we are playing Monopoly with friends in a neutral space. The house rules are completely different. Some people want to play with Free Parking. Some people want to ban mortgaging. Some don’t like the three-doubles-and-you-go-jail rule because they don’t play it that way at home. We have some women saying, “I love my body,” some saying, “I don’t love my body,” others saying, “I don’t love your body, but my body is fine,” and others saying, “I love my body, but you don’t get to love yours.” But most often, the dissenters are saying, “I don’t love my body, and you don’t get to love yours, either.”

I do NOT have to love everything about my body and I shouldn’t HAVE to love it all just to fit someone else’s idea of what self-esteem is. I don’t love everything about my body and that’s perfectly fucking fine, because I accept it all and I’m just living my life happily DESPITE what I don’t like, which I think is healthier anyhow

Nobody cares if you love your body. Personally, I would like it if everyone loved their bodies, but I know that’s only true of very few people. I’m comfortable with my body, but there are things I would like to change about it–stretch marks, freckles, ruddiness, acne, the way the nail on my little toe is–and that’s okay. I’m not harming anyone else if I don’t love my little toe. But if I turn my dissatisfaction with that toe into an edict that says you’re not allowed to love your toe, either, does it make my toe more beautiful? What if I tell ten people they have to be unhappy about their toes? At what point does my toe become less offensive to me? Never. It never does. I have to come to terms with that toe, liking it or not liking it, totally independent of other people and their feelings about their toes.

No one in the body positivity movement is saying that you absolutely must share their views when it comes to your body. We’re just asking that you don’t demand we share your view of our bodies. And that’s all it really comes down to.

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47 Comments

  1. I have actually had people tell me I shouldn’t have any issues with my own body. I have pretty decent self-esteem for a number of reasons. I’ve been through some crap and come out OK. I’m emotionally strong, I have a good group of friends, a good education, family I love and who loves me and I think a reasonable amount of intelligence. And I’m a generally nice, good, caring person.

    But I don’t like being even a little overweight. Untreated (until recently) Hashimoto’s has made this a bit of a problem and I have expressed my unhappiness with my body and had several people lecture me about how I shouldn’t feel that way about my own body.

    I think they take it personally. I think they think that if I’m judging myself, I’m judging them (I’m not — I have enough to worry about with myself). But still, I’m not allowed to dislike anything about my own body because I apparently shouldn’t care about appearance.

    So, yeah, people are assholes all around. And I think some of them (like the girls you described) for some reason — immaturity or something more serious, like abuse — don’t have anything else of substance (or don’t feel like they do), so feeling superior in appearance gives them something to feel good about themselves.

    As far as stretch marks — I developed some on my hips and thighs when I got tall quickly during puberty (tall being a relative term here) and I got a bunch on my tummy when I was pregnant. There was nothing I could have done to prevent them and other than one jerk of a boyfriend years ago, no one else ever seemed to notice them or care, so I didn’t, either. I don’t flaunt them any more than I flaunt my nose. It’s just there. But I’m not ashamed of them and I don’t go out of my way to hide them, either.

    I don’t get how hiding them is “respecting” yourself or your children, either. That’s kind of weird.

    April 20, 2015
    |Reply
    • monkyvirus
      monkyvirus

      I think there is a slight problem with saying “I’m unhappy with how I look” if the person you say it to has similar issue. e.g my flatmate saying I wasn’t fat (I’m UK 14-16) and then practically crying in front of me because she had to buy a size 10 instead of an 8 (I’d like to point out this girl is taller than me so she was quite clearly thinner). I wasn’t mad but I was a little put out. I really think people should engage in tact more often.

      Not saying you do this! I just think it’s one reason why people get exasperated when a friend expresses dissatisfaction.

      April 25, 2015
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      • KitKat
        KitKat

        Late comment, but I think it goes to show the double standard a lot of women have about appearances. On anyone else, a little extra weight is fine, maybe even better. On ourselves, it’s hideous. It’s not fair to hold yourself to a different standard than you do other people. I don’t have a shred of self-esteem, so maybe I’m not one to talk, but if you think it’s okay with anyone else, but hideous with you, maybe you’re not seeing yourself clearly.

        August 9, 2015
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  2. Honey
    Honey

    I read that article a few days ago as well. I always find it a bit sad seeing how people lash out when other people are saying ‘Hey, I’m good with my body/feeling/behaviours. I’m not hurting anyone, and it’s okay. I am proud of who I am!.’ The number of times people try to shame others for just being happy and getting on with their life is just…mind-blowing. : (

    The internet is an amazing tool, but it just allows some people’s bile to spill out onto their keyboard.

    April 20, 2015
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  3. Candy Apple
    Candy Apple

    I wish we could fix stretch marks. Sigh.

    I draw the line at people being accepting of their prolapsed anuses and wanting to share that acceptance with the world.

    April 20, 2015
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    • Rebecca
      Rebecca

      I agree, and would go so far as to say that we should ban the word “prolapse” from being said outside a medical textbook. *shudders in disgust*

      April 24, 2015
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  4. noisyninja
    noisyninja

    This kind of movement reminds me a bit of the yoga on instagram. There are a lot of beautiful people doing beautiful poses, and it inspires me to do things like handstands. But what I find even more interesting and empowering, are the people like me who follow these yoga pros. They come in all shapes and sizes, and in all levels of ability, and they take pics of their poses and post them and say things like “this is where I am today. This is what I can do, and I’m proud of my body for what it can give me. ” I know there is some controversy about instagram yoga, but when I see these people loving themselves and their bodies, as is, I can’t help think there is at least a little good happening. And guess what, putting myself out there too (something that is scary and uncomfortable) helps me see that I have a lot to be thankful for in my own body, flaws and all. Maybe it’s a little narcissistic, but I still feel that it’s a positive thing, at least in my life. Plus sometimes I need a little Extra motivating to get me on the mat every day.

    April 20, 2015
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  5. Rachel
    Rachel

    I’ve had stretch marks since I was a kid- I was really ill and lost a bunch of weight and then when I got better, I gained it all back and then some really quickly- and I used to be so ashamed of them. They were purple and hideous and all over my sides and thighs, totally impossible to cover up. I’m not sure many 13-year-old (or maybe most fully grown women) would find much comfort in ‘love your body no matter what it looks like 🙂 🙂 🙂 or even ‘it’s totally neutral, don’t think about it!!!’ I certainly didn’t. I was disgusted by them, and no one else talked about them, so I assumed I was the only person my age who had them.

    About 5 years later- they’ve faded tons now and you can only see them if you’re looking for them, which was the only reason I’d become comfortable with them by that point. Were they still purple and hideous, I’d still have wanted to hide them- I found out literally every single one of my friends had stretch marks to a greater or lesser degree. My friends were mostly very thin, so it was really surprising to me, because I’d really only thought about it regarding pregnancy and my own experience. I really never knew that tons of people get them through growing, not just gaining/losing weight. The only context in which I’d heard stretch marks mentioned when I was 13 was people being pregnant (I had no idea guys got them, for example, and only discovered it when my sister told me her 6’4 boyfriend had them). Learning that all my friends had them really helped me accept them, and I only wish I’d known when it hurt my self-esteem so badly.

    I really wish people would talk about it more, not just as a ‘horrible’ side effect of pregnancy, but in a lot of cases, a totally normal part of puberty and growth. But the approach taken at Buzzfeed is totally wrong, dismissing people’s feelings about their bodies as if it’s that easy to not care about something that is, however you feel about yourself, marring your body.

    April 20, 2015
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    • ella
      ella

      I felt the same as you when I was in puberty. My boobs got really big really fast and they were covered with big ugly purple marks. Seeing other girls around me and on TV and magazines be able to wear a tank top and show cleavage made me feel more self conscious and uncomfortable about my stretch marks. At the time I thought I was the only one to be so “deformed”. Obviously now that I’m older, they’ve faded and I learned that everyone gets stretch marks and it’s just life. So I’m going to be more sympathetic to someone who feels self conscious about their body, because I know how it feels.

      April 21, 2015
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    • Vivi
      Vivi

      I’m in a similar boat as you. I was never really thin, but I gained some 30 pounds rather quickly during puberty and my boobs grew quickly as well. I think it was made even worse by having genetically weak connective tissue (I have mild dermographia – if I scratch myself even just lightly, the welt is visible for over half an hour – and I didn’t even know that was not normal until a couple of years ago). The result was stretch marks all over my boobs, arms, thighs and particularly big, finger-wide ones over my abdomen. The smaller ones are barely visible like any scar because I’m very pale (and take care to stay that way for this reason), but the ones over my abdomen have only started to fade into not looking like fresh, red wounds since I turned 30. I was always ashamed of them and hid them under long clothing, because I never knew (until now) that you could get them just from normal growing processes instead of just getting fat. It’s not even a vanity thing – I’m asexual and have no need to attract a mate – but that I was always given to understand that you’re not supposed to have any stretch marks until you either get pregnant or turn 40, and that if you have any as a young woman, it’s your fault for being a shameful glutton.
      And you know what particularly didn’t help? The (male) doctor who performed an ultrasound on me for kidney problems when I was in my mid-20s, and who not only unnecessarily commented on the scars, but straight up wouldn’t believe me when I told him that I’ve never been pregnant. (I know that belief is common – there’s even a bit in the Game of Thrones novels where an audience POV character is like “That nun has stretch marks, so obviously she doesn’t take her vows of chastity very seriously.” – but seriously, from a medical professional?!)

      April 21, 2015
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    • Victoriana
      Victoriana

      “But the approach taken at Buzzfeed is totally wrong, dismissing people’s feelings about their bodies as if it’s that easy to not care about something that is, however you feel about yourself, marring your body.”

      I really disagree, the neither the Buzzfeed article nor the people in it were at all dismissing people’s insecurities about their bodies. The article was just highlighting some people saying they were happy with their own bodies. I find it really curious that so many of the commenters there as well seemed to think this was the message, and took it personally, when it was clearly the opposite. I think this goes hand in hand with what I wrote in my other comment here about people tending to projecting their own emotions about themselves onto other people. It’s a very strange, and sometimes quite harmful, tendency.

      April 22, 2015
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  6. Beatrice
    Beatrice

    The other day I overheard a young woman on the tram complaining about some other young woman who likes taking selfies where she includes only her face, and she even has the audacity to look attractive in those photos, while “in reality” she’s a (and I cite) a “fat pig”.

    There’s just no win when people are determined to criticize others’ choices.

    April 20, 2015
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  7. Elena
    Elena

    ‘It didn’t surprise me that the majority of the negative comments about the stretch mark selfies were coming from people who appeared to be young women who were slender, on the conventionally attractive end of the facial prettiness scale,’

    60% of those are MRA sock puppets, Jenny. I hang out on buzzfeed far too often, and ever since Buzzfeed replied to the question of whether or not the site is feminist with ‘unequivocally yes’ they’ve flooded it. Basically any body-positive article or something related to feminism is suddenly taken over by ‘hot’ chicks with MRA talking points.

    Not saying a young girl wouldn’t parrot their crap. They exist, but I’m just not buying their consistency. Especially when you can reverse image search half their profile photos. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    And just in general I have a hard time believing any woman who says she doesn’t have stretch marks. Some of the thinner girls in middle school still had stretch marks from just hitting puberty. That’s when I got mine. I was a bean pole that shot up and suddenly got them all over my abdomen. Every woman gets them. Men, for some reason, don’t get them. The only time I’ve seen them on men are body-builders’ biceps or men who’ve lost weight. So I always side eye when someone is grossed out by stretch marks because it’s usually a dude who has no experience with it. And as we all know, women aren’t even allowed to have the same body details that a man has (leg hair, armpit hair, etc) because that’s “gross.” So we’re certainly not allowed to have stretch marks when men don’t have them at all. And as you clearly pointed out, how dare we make peace with our own bodies. We should forever be shamed and hide things we can’t even fix.

    April 20, 2015
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    • camber
      camber

      Just wanted to say that I have seen men get them, but not in the same places as women – they seem to be more prone to getting them mid-back (which is maybe a less obvious place, since we don’t normally examine people’s mid-backs close-up?).

      April 20, 2015
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      • Laina
        Laina

        That’s where my cuz has a ton ’cause he got super tall super fast.

        I have stretchmarks in some of the funniest places. Like my shoulders are COVERED. Stomach, obviously, but also, like, I have those almost invisible silver ones on the underside of my arms. They’re a fact of life. They aren’t ugly, and they’re nothing to be ashamed of.

        April 20, 2015
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      • Chiming in that men totally get them. Both my ex-husband and my boyfriend have them on their backs — and they’re both guys who got really tall in puberty. My ex also has them in all the usual spots from gaining weight in college. I don’t know if they ever bothered him or not.

        I first noticed my stretch marks under my arms at the age of 13, and my grandmother made me feel so weird about them — even though I can’t remember what was said. (She’s always been very fat alarmist, love her though I do.) I also have them basically everywhere, but only every really hated them on my breasts.

        Nowadays they don’t really bother me. I actually really like the texture of them sometimes, if I’m feeling in a particular textural mood.

        April 21, 2015
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        • Rhiannon
          Rhiannon

          Yes, my husband is a larger gentleman and he has them on his stomach for sure…

          April 22, 2015
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          • ElBandito
            ElBandito

            For my beau, it’s just around his hips. I liked to call them his ‘Lightning Bolts’ because that’s what they pretty much look like.

            I always tend to think like, how would we explain this ‘issue’ to aliens: That somehow, if our soft, squishy protective layer get’s stretched and split but still stays strong and firm (and later heals)–then it’s therefore shameful?

            I get told by med students that our skin’s crawling with parasites and bacteria anyway, how’s a few purple marks a huge problem?

            April 23, 2015
    • watergirl
      watergirl

      MRA has basically declared war on women. It is quite disturbing the campaign they are on. There are very few sites where you can’t speak about women’s issues without the MRA flooding it. It is very disturbing. I find the number of boys who are now participating in a hate group, under the guise of “rights and equality for men” is becoming so prolific that they are now attacking with military efficiency on the internet. Why now? Why the surge?Why are they so threatened and why does it consume them?

      April 23, 2015
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    • Pernille
      Pernille

      I actually do not have any stretchmarks. Never did. I recognise that they’re very common, and I definitely do not think they’re anything to be ashamed of, but *every woman* does not get them.

      April 29, 2015
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  8. Sophie
    Sophie

    I definitely used to be more body confident, in fact for a while I was really proud of my body. I have Scoliosis and when I was 18 I had corrective surgery that left me with a large scar along my spine. I have always loved my scar, and used to show it off, because it reminded me that I had been through hell and not only survived but come out stronger. I still love my scar, and many of the other scars I have but I do not love my body.

    Since I became disabled I have gone from between 60-65kg to 75kg and I’m now overweight and struggling with it. When I first started putting on the weight I was ok with it, I had been too thin and looked ill so a little extra was ok. But now I look at myself and a lot of the time I hate what I see. I just don’t carry weight well as I have small bones, and a short torso. I can’t do much exercise, so it is very difficult for me to lose any weight. However I have never projected my insecurities onto anyone else, how I feel about my body doesn’t effect how I view other people. I have several beautiful friends who weigh more than me, and I think they are gorgeous. I don’t understand people who feel the need to put others down to make themselves feel better.

    April 20, 2015
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  9. Cheryl
    Cheryl

    When can we stop rewarding articles like this? I’m not trying to be mean but who cares if YOU like YOUR body?
    Like your body and shut up, don’t like your body and shut up. Why is our culture so me, me, me now? Learn self worth through yourself…don’t wait for strangers on the internet to give it to you.

    April 20, 2015
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    • Kaya the Moonhunter
      Kaya the Moonhunter

      This is not our culture being “me, me, me”, this is people going against the culture of constant pressure telling women they’re not good enough. It’s great if you can “learn self worth through yourself”, but if you can’t see how maybe, just maybe, after being told you have to hide your ugly self for your whole life, you might really need to see some strangers on the internet loving their bodies and not be as hideously ugly as you have been convinced you are – then I really don’t know what to tell you. Great if you’re that self-sufficent, but how does it hurt you if other women tell each other “hey, you’re okay, despite what you’re being told”?

      I do have stretch marks, but they’re rather faint and people generally don’t notice them. I do have the body deemed attractive enough for a bikini by society. I am not in need of a stranger to give me self worth. But I am in dire need of seeing more women be happy with themselves, because we really don’t see anywhere near enough of that between all the “you’re never enough” crap.

      April 20, 2015
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    • ArgentLA
      ArgentLA

      If you’re not interested in reading people’s blog posts or watching their online videos about their self-esteem or body image stuff, it’s really easy to just not read or watch it.

      There’s a lot of stuff on the internet that you’re going to find uninteresting or annoying: people going on about TV shows you don’t watch, books you’re not interested in reading, or games you don’t want to play. Nobody is going to fault you for thinking, “Oh, it’s another one of these — I don’t feel like reading that,” or even asking to be taken off the distribution list. However, people are likely to get justifiably upset if you come into their discussion or write passive-aggressive articles to complain that they’re talking about things you aren’t interested in or don’t care about.

      Nevertheless, people do this all time not only with discussions or articles that don’t involve them, but also ones where no comment was solicited. A lot of stuff people post on their blogs or social media is for them, not for anyone else. If you struggle with body image issues, for example, posting selfies is not necessarily about anyone else’s validation or notes, but an exercise in overcoming, however briefly, the self-loathing and fear that goes along with having your picture taken when you hate some or all aspects of how you look. To have random people chide you for doing that or publish sneering articles about it is almost as bad as having someone make cruel, unsolicited comments reinforcing the reasons you were afraid in the first place.

      A lot of people seem particularly eager to do that when it’s anything that even hints at challenging gender or racial lines. People who just shrug at beauty and fashion ads/articles that deliberately and relentlessly reinforce self-loathing as a marketing tactic will see two articles in the same month about accepting your stretch marks and launch into an impassioned tirade about how it’s a trend that’s gone too far.

      If you really don’t want to hear it, why pay attention to it or engage with it?

      April 21, 2015
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    • Jemmy
      Jemmy

      So if people are saying stuff you don’t want to hear they should just shut up?

      I think you’re the one with the ‘me, me, me’ problem.

      April 21, 2015
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    • Victoriana
      Victoriana

      It’s not about seeking validation from others. In fact by posting those pictures they’re saying they don’t NEED validation from others, only from themselves, which they are giving. If people can post pictures on social media of their dogs and cats and babies and how much they love them and how cute they are, why can’t they post pictures of themselves stating the same love. Loving oneself is just as important, and as long as their doing it in their own space they have every right to do it.

      April 22, 2015
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      • Alison
        Alison

        Well said.

        April 22, 2015
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    • Wil
      Wil

      The overwhelming example since media began has been that you can only love your body if it’s the agreed type. Which has become so twisted and distorted it’s unachievable. Changing thy message through more people saying ‘this is me and I’m happy’ gives those unable to do the same a little bit of real beauty every time. The more we see that, the more our daughters will grow to respect themselves. It isn’t selfish – ‘me, me, me’ – it’s using the Internet to reach more women with that “it’s not just you, this isn’t something you have to hate, this is normal and you don’t have to beat yourself up for it” message.
      My sister saw my bump the other week and nearly cried because she couldn’t see stretch marks and she’s covered. She can’t see the old ones because they’re faded and if this pregnancy is anything like my last, the stretch marks are there I just won’t see them until after I give birth. It took me an hour to get my sister to smile again, and a lot of reassuring. Mainly, my point was hat she didn’t do something awful to get them, there’s nothing you can do to stop them and they will fade. What if we’d never had that conversation? It’s not ok for my sister to think she’s some horrific freak with disgusting marks that everyone else hates. These articles hopefully help women who don’t have someone to have the conversation with in person.

      April 23, 2015
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    • Sophie
      Sophie

      I care if other people like their bodies, I don’t want anyone to hate the way they look and hide their body away like it’s something to be ashamed of. We need to model self-love and self-confidence for the next generation, so that they never learn to hate themselves the way previous generations have. My mum is always criticising the way she looks and I know that has had a profound effect on how I feel about myself. However I was lucky that I had other women in my life who showed me that my body was wonderful and that it allowed me to do some many things I loved, and they did that by loudly loving their own bodies.

      Every time I see an advert for a product that tells me it will make me more beautiful, or read an article about someone changing their body in some cosmetic way, I think about the teenagers who will see that too and I worry that it will make them dislike themselves just that little bit more. We need more articles about people loving themselves, we need more photos of people showing off their ‘imperfections’ proudly, not less. If you don’t want to see that stuff then don’t look at it, but do not tell me that it is not necessary and that people shouldn’t care how others feel about themselves. We need to care, because other people loving themselves helps us to love ourselves too.

      April 23, 2015
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  10. Megan
    Megan

    Stretch marks ARE scars. Aren’t they? They’re a kind of scar tissue? I’m talking about that line in the first comment: “I don’t view my stretch marks as scars or badges of honor.” I guess the commenter intends us to read ‘scar’ in the metaphorical sense, but stretch marks are, literally, scars, so I’m like, “Wait, then what DO you view them as?”

    Calling stretch marks scars makes me feel better about them. I’m not as self-conscious about scars. And I know what scars are. Stretch marks took me by surprise. When I was a kid, I read the entry about stretch marks in my family’s medical encyclopedia over and over again. It made me feel normal. Particularly the part where it said stretch marks were normal. A little understanding goes a long way, y’know.

    But what I like even more is seeing stretch marks on other people. I hit puberty earlier than most of my friends, so it was a year or two before I started seeing stretch marks on them. I used to hunt for stretch marks on other girls’ bodies. My medical encyclopedia said 70% of women got stretch marks during puberty. It was nice to know that, but it was better to see it. Despite what I had read, I couldn’t NOT feel like there was something wrong with me until I could see for myself just how many people had stretch marks.

    I LOVE it when women with stretch marks on their thighs wear shorts. I didn’t wear shorts for, like, ten years, because I hated seeing my stretch marks. But nothing ever looks as bad on other people as it does on yourself. Stretch marks look more normal every time I see them on someone else. My point is – I’m glad this is a thing. This actually improves my life.

    April 20, 2015
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    • Vivi
      Vivi

      “My medical encyclopedia said 70% of women got stretch marks during puberty.”

      Oh, how much that would have helped me as a teenager! I never saw any on my class mates (and certainly not on women in the media, not even those who weren’t thin), so I thought I was the only one. And I’ve also only started wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts again since I turned thirty – and I still don’t dare to do it outside the house. I get enough fat-shaming insults as it is. (Though partly it’s also because I refuse to shave my very hairy legs and armpits if men aren’t required to, but I also have social anxiety and don’t want a confrontation over this while I’m shopping for groceries.)

      And I totally feel you on the label “scars”. Scars are a normal result of life. Everyone has scars. It definitely makes me feel better than the supposed euphemism “stretch marks”.

      April 21, 2015
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      • Victoriana
        Victoriana

        And 80-90% of women above the age of adolescence have cellulite. It certainly gives you some perspective doesn’t it. Unlike many YA and romance novels where the heroine obsesses over a tiny bit of a stretch mark/cellulite/whatever that sprouted up like it’s some horrific scarring disease like smallpox that has ruined her looks forever. 🙁

        April 22, 2015
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  11. Courtney
    Courtney

    Ugh – my pinky toenail is The. Worst.

    April 20, 2015
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    • Jessica
      Jessica

      I was obsessing about my pinky toe nail just the other day (I also have a weird one) and I actually said to myself out loud “This is a really weird thing to obsess about”. Somehow, I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one!

      April 20, 2015
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      • Plastraa
        Plastraa

        I too have a weird pinky toenail on my left foot. I feel as if we need a club, perhaps with badges. Our. Pain. Is. Real!

        April 22, 2015
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    • Kayla
      Kayla

      My middle toenails are the weird ones. They point in the opposite direction that the toe points. Every once in a while I’ll notice them again and curse them for being contrary bastards.

      April 22, 2015
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  12. Tabby
    Tabby

    This reminds me of when Buzzfeed did a similar article about women photographing their unshaven legs, which got a very similar tirade of comments. You’d think people would be able to look at articles like this and think “well, good for them” before going on their merry way. You would think.

    April 20, 2015
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    • ElBandito
      ElBandito

      Yeah, and the ladies weren’t even the hairiest. It’s one of the reasons why I decided against doing laser treatment for my legs (which sprouted hair as early as 8 years). I know if I have kids, they will be as hairy as me and will get bullied–but I want them to see me with thick black hair still on my legs, and know that ‘hey, she still has friends–people don’t beat her up, and she did find my dad who knows she’s hairy and accepts it–that means it won’t be so bad when I grow up’.
      Because damnit, I used to get beat up for it, and I never saw a woman as hairy as I was until I was 16.

      April 23, 2015
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  13. JC
    JC

    I racked up a number of pale stretch marks on my chest and hips as a result of some very sudden development in my teen years. I always hated them, but then I met my husband, and he was fascinated by them. He calls them my “tiger stripes”, and his attitude about it eventually helped me accept them as no big deal, like my freckles or the small scar on my shoulder.

    April 20, 2015
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  14. *applause*
    Well said!

    April 20, 2015
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  15. Lilly Adzler
    Lilly Adzler

    I have pale white stretch marks on my thighs from my teenage growth spurt. I don’t care. Everyone has them.

    I don’t understand why people can’t let others be happy with their appearance, and why they think everyone must hate themselves for not being perfect.

    April 21, 2015
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    • Honey
      Honey

      I feel the same way (on both points!). I don’t see why people feel the need to tear others down simply because they are happy.

      April 21, 2015
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      • Carolina West
        Carolina West

        I think it has something to do with the whole, ‘I’m not happy so no one can be’ line of thinking that so many people seem to have. Especially now since we’re in each other’s business more than ever thanks to the net and social media.

        April 22, 2015
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  16. Victoriana
    Victoriana

    It’s kind of funny because I do have some stretch marks I think from childhood growth, but I never or rarely thought about them until I read this Buzfeed article. Don’t get me wrong I’ve had my share of body insecurities over the years, especially as a teen when I think a lot of us experience those feelings (and some unfortunately even try to project it on others to try make themselves feel better). Before I entered high school I was fairly satisfied and comfortable with my body. I was pretty short, but I didn’t think about it or care about it much. Basically I was satisfied with my looks and even thought I was kind of pretty without being narcissistic about it, just a healthy self-respect.

    Then one of my friends who was only an inch or two taller than me kept complaining about her height and how short she was and how she wanted to be taller, and when she noticed that I didn’t join her in the self-hate, she started to put me down and boast about the inch or two of height she had on me and how sad it must be to be as short as I was. I wish I’d been strong enough then to brush it off, but I was 14, and I gradually internalized her putting down, so for a period of time, the next few years of high school, I really did hate how short I was and started comparing myself to others when I never had before.

    Then a couple of other classmates and I were talking about other attractive peers, and something I said must have alerted them to the fact that I was generally happy with my looks and thought I looked pretty in my own way (besides the height thing I was still pretty happy with the rest of my looks). They laughed incredulously at me and said “you really think you’re pretty? Hahaha what a joke” in a cruel and mocking way. They obviously were insecure with their own looks and hated that I wasn’t with mine. Again, I wished I’d had the self-confidence then to brush off their comments for what they were-a projection of their own insecurities-but I was 14 and hadn’t developed the perspective or confidence to do that, so again I internalized it just like with the height thing and started hating on the rest on my looks for the next year or two. I eventually developed more self-confidence and as I reached adulthood, I became fairly satisfied with my body and looks again thankfully.

    Anyway, my point in bringing my high school/teen experiences up is that, I think some adults are doing the same things as those high school kids did to me back then. They are insecure with some aspect of their own looks, so they get annoyed when they see others expressing comfort and satisfaction with the same “flaw” on their own bodies. Just like with those teens, the thinking seems to be “if I hate that part of my own body and see it as a flaw and feel like I have to hide it and it causes me such anguish, how dare someone else declare they’re happy with it on their bodies, and not only that but display it like it’s not something shameful. I don’t want to be alone in my self-hate.” (Obviously I’m not saying everyone with insecurities is like that, most aren’t, but obviously a few are). And what’s more, it actually works even on some adults, which is why they make those negative comments. It’s like a infectious perpetuating self-hate cycle. And this is part of what I think the body positive movement is trying to change and why it’s so necessary.

    April 22, 2015
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  17. I hate when people criticize women for having stretch marks. When I went from 110lbs to 120lbs during puberty I got stretch marks on my thighs. I gained only 10 pounds over a period of about two years, and part of that ten pounds was weight going to my breasts and my bum. I was super active and about as healthily conscious as any other 7th grader, but I still got stretch marks. Over the last 4 months I’ve gained 15lbs from having to be off my feet because of surgery and so now I have stretch marks along my thighs almost down to my knees and around my hips. Am I fat? No. My skin apparently doesn’t stretch, and I’m only 21. Once I get back on my feet you bet your ass I’ll be showing my stretch marks. I don’t have time to worry about wearing longer shorts and conservative bathing suits just to cover something I had no control over.

    April 22, 2015
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  18. Brag & Bounce
    Brag & Bounce

    I’m sorry that I have nothing actually constructive to add, because I agree with you, but my entire takeaway from this post is,

    “Ew, toes.”

    😉

    April 22, 2015
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  19. Raging Brainer
    Raging Brainer

    While I have had certain body image issues I usually just brush any negative comments off. I simply know that my appearance won’t really make a difference to others and if bothers someone so much then they are simply and asshole and I hope they suffer while having to look at me when I’m in public.

    Most of my body issues have more to do with feeling physically strong and when I don’t I feel really self conscious about being weak. The thing that has always affected me were people implying that I was stupid. As someone who suffers from aspergers, and the fact that most people seem to think that anyone on the autistic spectrum is mentally disabled, I’ve felt pretty terrible about the assumption that because of it I was stupid. In fact my most recent ex seemed to have realized this and used it in arguments against me.

    I think these selfies are the best thing to happen, teenagers to internalize the messages our media sends and when they see grown women showing that they are not abnormal, it might help them accept themselves as they are. Also if they read comments saying no one will ever find them attractive, well I have news for those asses, no matter how a person looks, someone will find them beautiful. I’ve witnessed it many times.

    If any teen is reading this though, what others think about you DOESN’T MATTER! I can’t stress this enough. Confidence will make you happier than anything and people who say otherwise have their own personal demons to face. I realize it is easier said than done but eventually you can get there.

    I know this a rambly comment but I do feel like we need to get over this whole obsession with looks. Just take care of yourself and how you look can go on the back burner.

    April 26, 2015
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