Stretch marks are something I’ve long struggled with.
I grew quickly when I was young, so I had minor stretch marks on my body. I never really noticed them.
However, after a difficult period in my early twenties, once my hockey career finished, my weight spiralled out of control.
I went from around 190 pounds to 280 pounds. Very quickly. As I moved towards that final weight, I saw stretch marks start to emerge. I felt fear immediately but I was in such a dark place that the stretch marks I saw didn’t stop me from continuing to eat to try and fill the void I felt.
One day, I tried to do a pull-up. I could not. I started to have this thought that if I wasn’t going to end my life, I am not able to stay in this state. It was dark. It was sad. It was painful. I felt tired.
So, I decided to turn my life around and beginning with some running. Over two years and several plateaus, using a combination of exercise and diet, I returned to my former weight.
But, with that, came the realization these stretch marks were not going away. Because I had gained so much weight so quickly, these were not light ones. They were tears in my skin. They were red. They itched.
I would look in the mirror even with all the weight gone and hate myself. Out of all the struggles I had gone through, gaining weight is my biggest regret. Every day, I am reminded of the poor decisions and path I took that has forever scarred my body.
Along with stretch marks, certain areas of my body just stretched. No matter how thin I am, I have a layer of fat or skin that sits on the bottom of my stomach. My belly button increased in size. My pectorals are differently shaped. My skin is not as smooth.
I researched all the ways I could remove stretch marks and came across dozen of articles of new mothers grieving about their stomachs and people who had lost weight suffering because of stretch marks and loose skin.
There were some antidotes suggested from creams to micro-needling, too expensive spas. None of them seemed to satisfy the people with the stretch marks.
Today, I try to embrace my stretch marks as a reminder of the resilience I have built. As a reminder of how fragile our life is and how easy it is to slip.
I do hope for better solutions in the future. Not just for myself, but for others who feel the shame of their stretch marks. Until then, I’ll continue to work on loving myself, my body, and my past self who didn’t always know best.
For anyone who is struggling with stretch marks, loose skin, or any body insecurity, I empathize with you. You are beautiful. Your scars make you unique. You are strong. You are loved.