I have stretch marks, scars, and loose skin. I have come to appreciate these parts of my body, but I wasn’t always happy about them. It has taken me a long time to come around to changing my mindset and shifting my perspective. I’ll share my experience and give a few tips that have helped me shift my perspective on my scars, stretch marks, and loose skin. However, these things are very personal and everyone’s experience will be different. This post is based on my own personal experience. It has been helpful to me to love myself through it and to be be kind to myself (think kind thoughts and speak kind words). Others may be uplifted by speaking to a therapist about complex feelings, having tattoos cover up some markings, or having surgery to remove loose skin. Everyone’s journey is different and this is a judgement-free zone. I would be happy to hear about your experience in the comments section below.
I first started to notice stretch marks after a few growth spurts as a teenager. I had pinkish/purple stretch marks on my chest, arms, back, and thighs. When they first started to appear, I was quite alarmed. I thought they were very visible, but in looking back, I don’t think they ever really were. I was examining myself through a magnifying glass while the rest of the world was going about there business not noticing my stretch marks.
As I’ve gotten older, gone through pregnancy, and gained and lost weight multiple times, I have earned a few more stretch marks. They have also turned white over time, so I don’t notice them as much anymore. They do appear more visible when I have a tan in the summer, but I’m really not bothered by them.
I’m an ovarian cancer survivor. I had two surgeries and I have two scars. Neither of my scars are visible on a daily basis. I have one scar that is below my underwear line, so nobody ever sees it. It has never really bothered me. I also have a large scar on my stomach. Before I had my second surgery, I was extremely concerned about what the scar would look like once it healed. Initially, it was a bright reddish pink colour. It also puffed up as it healed. I used to hate that scar. After I was declared cancer-free, I just wanted to forget that I had ever been a cancer patient. Seeing that scar was a painful reminder of what I had been through. I hid it for a long time and didn’t want others to see it. I used to try to pretend like cancer never happened to me. Talking about being a cancer survivor used to make me really uncomfortable. I didn’t want people to look at me differently. I had great fear that the cancer would return, dealt with survivor’s guilt, and didn’t want to be reminded of the whole painful experience.
Over time, I have shifted my mindset around cancer and my scar. Now, I see cancer (and my scars) as a part of me, a part of my history. Cancer does not define me, but it is a part of my history that I can’t change. I’m also much more open about being a cancer survivor and I’ve come to embrace my scar and be proud of it in a way. Do I sometimes look at it and wish it wasn’t there? Yes, sometimes. However, more often than not, I look at my scar with fondness and gratitude for being cancer free, healthy, and thriving after all these years.
I never thought about the possibility that I might have loose skin when I embarked on my health and weight loss journey. I simply never anticipated losing as much weight as I’ve lost! I didn’t notice the loose skin when I first started losing weight, but I started to notice it once I had lost about 65-70 pounds. I was shocked when I first noticed it, because I really did not expect it to happen to me. It was weird to get used to the feeling of my loose skin, especially when running or practicing yoga. It feels quite jiggly on my tummy and thighs when I’m exercising, so I wear high-waisted leggings to keep my loose skin in place. This makes me feel more comfortable and not having thee sensation of skin flopping around. With all of that being said, my loose skin is not very visible. If I wear high waisted pants or have my tummy and thighs covered up, I don’t think anyone else would notice. I look at my loose skin in a similar way as my scars. It’s a part of me and it’s a reminder of how far I’ve come on my journey to health and losing the weight.
A few things have really helped me to see my body in a new way and come to appreciate my scars, stretch marks, and loose skin.
Look Beyond My Body
I considered all of the things that make me uniquely me. My body is the outer shell that everyone sees, but I gave thought to what layers were underneath. My thoughts, my experiences, my intellect, my ideas, my emotions. There is so much more to a human being than what they look like. I considered the importance of what lies beneath the surface and how those things combine to make me who I truly am. I think it’s also important to consider how I feel, what contributions I’m making to my family and community, and my happiness with my life in general. Do whatever brings you joy and makes you feel fulfilled.
Appreciate What I Can Do
I’ve gone through times when I was extremely ill, and couldn’t move my body much at all. I have been afraid to try new things, to look like a fool, or to make mistakes. I have shifted my perspective dramatically over the years. See my Failure is OK post for more on this.
Now, if I really want to do something new, I give it a try. Instead of focusing exclusively on what my body looks like, I consider what my body is capable of. I think about all of the things that I can do now that I wasn’t able to do or wouldn’t have even tried in the past. I can run and do calisthenics and handstands. I’m thrilled that I’m able to do these things! I feel strong and capable. I am grateful every day that I can move my body and do the things I want to do. Even when I was extremely ill, I tried to focus on what I could do. It was much more challenging when I was dealing with chronic illness and having so many many ups and downs with good days and bad days and trying to find balance. However, I made a point to be thankful for what I could do that day – even if it was just getting out of bed in the morning, showering, or walking for 5 minutes.
I encourage you to love yourself through your journey. Life is hard. Change is hard. Life is not always sunshine and rainbows, and so many things happen in our lives that we have zero control over. Feel what you feel, take a deep breath, and then seek to find ways to shift your perspective from judgement to compassion. Be patient and kind to yourself along the way. Do what works for you and know that you are more than your scars, stretch marks, or loose skin. Remember that these “flaws” on your body tell a story of where you have been, but there are so many other things that define who you truly are.