A few months back, I had a conversation with my daughter about stretch marks. She had walked into my bedroom as I was changing. She noticed my stretch marks and she asked me about them. How did I get them? Did they hurt? I’ve been terribly ashamed of my stretch marks. I’ve written more than once about the hatred I have towards them. But I wasn’t going to tell my daughter that. What if she gets stretch marks? Do I want her to feel the way I do? Absolutely not.
I explained the marks to her. I told her they were called stretch marks. I told her I got them when I was pregnant with my children. I told her that I loved them. “These stretch marks remind me of when you and your brothers were in my belly. They remind me of how happy I was to have a little baby in my tummy. Every time I see them, I think of my little babies.”
This afternoon, my daughter sat down next to me on the sofa as I worked on the laptop. She lifted up the bottom of my shirt and looked at my belly.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Just looking at the marks on your belly.” She looked up at me and smiled. “You love those marks, don’t you mommy? “Because they remind you of your little babies and how much you love us?”
She does not look at my stretch marks with disgust. She does not find them to be ugly. She views them as a symbol of my love for her and for her brothers. Where I see ugly stretch marks, my daughter sees the beauty of a mother’s love.
I can only hope that through the example that I am trying to set, my daughter will be as kind to herself and her changing body as she grows. I know that as she moves through life, she will develop insecurities along the way. But I will be here for her to help her through those difficult times. And I will do everything in my power to teach her to embrace her perceived imperfections. Because I never want my daughter to feel shame about who she is, or the body that her beautiful spirit lives in.