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Summertime Stress, Stretch Marks and Stigmas: A Rant

Even though summer is looking a little different for us this year, with it still comes the change from jackets to tanks, sweatpants to shorts, and snuggies to swimsuits. This means more skin showing, and more room for people to be self conscious, well, at least for me.

Ever notice how people are just "ok" with the fact that when summer comes around you can make sure to get back into your groove so you can show off your nicely toned summer bod you let go all winter, but yet people still talk about the stigmas surrounding things like stretch marks and cellulite that are unavoidable and natural that get seen every summer and stay around all winter too?

As you guys should know by now from previous posts I've been having a hard time. Depression has made its unwanted return, and things have just been overall a little more difficult lately. I'm actually writing this from Florida right now because Tim and I took the drive with Skylar to bring her back to school, and my god is it hot here. As much as I want to be wrapped up in sweatpants and an over-sized sweatshirt, I would probably melt if I was, so shorts and tanks it is. I feel uncomfortable, but honestly I am so lucky Tim came with me because he has been helping me with all of the problems I've been having with myself, and he is always so good at finding things about me to be proud of whether it's something physical or my mental/emotional strengths.

We were sitting by the pool today, after I debated on if I even wanted him to see me in a bathing suit (I get it he's my boyfriend why would it be a problem), but sometimes I feel like when I feel so out of shape I don't want him to see me like that especially when he has seen me look so much better than I do now. I KNOW. Most of you are probably thinking I'm being crazy and what not, but it's true (I already told y'all I was gonna be honest so if you don't want to hear my thoughts move on). When I am having a hard time liking myself those are the thoughts that go through my head, and it's like every time I end up back tracking in my fitness journey I am more ashamed every time I have to wear stuff like bathing suits that showcase how far I've fallen off.

Tim makes me realize how important it is to be open about my struggles so I don't handle them or hurt on my own, and being open also helps to hold myself accountable. He and I get along really well because we are on the same maturity level and we have conversations that result in making changes or adjustments to better ourselves. We also both understand the world and what it has been made to be like, as well as people and how important it is to take care of ourselves even when it's hard to do so. He helps me to fight against those thoughts in my head that tell me not to wear a bathing suit when I could just hide myself in shorts and a tank top, but just because I can fight those things off doesn't mean I can just see what he sees (If only it was that simple). He also constantly reassures me of the things I can't change and shouldn't harp on, and we work together to push through the hard times and find solutions rather than bandages.

We were by the pool today, and I was looking down at my slightly bigger stomach and less toned legs, and the sunlight caught the section of stretch marks that I have and I just kind of looked at them for a little bit. Weirdly enough, while looking at myself and stopping at my stomach and legs and then debating on putting my clothes back on, when I got to my stretch marks, I kind of felt better. I never had stretch marks until I started really working in the gym and had some growth in my glutes and upper thighs, and I've honestly never been ashamed of them. I know there is so much positivity out there surrounding the topic of stretch marks with referring to them as things like "tiger stripes" and other signs of strength and I totally agree with that, but to just get really plain and simple, cellulite and stretch marks are natural regardless of what you call them.

Whether you got them from muscle growth or weight gain, they're natural, plain and simple, and they shouldn't be looked at any differently than a natural thing that happens to our bodies. You can do whatever you want with them whether that is showing them, hiding them, or finding ways to remove them, but regardless, they shouldn't be looked at as a flaw, and anyone who tells you different or tells you that they don't want to see them or that they aren't attractive or etc., should do their research and come talk to me.

I know so many people who have said they can't wear certain things because their cellulite shows or because you'll be able to see their stretch marks. I don't have cellulite, or any that I can see anyways, but I honestly don't see myself wanting to hide that either. We live in a world where what is shown off as far as "the perfect skin" and "perfect body" are photos that are smoothed out, blurred, or photo shopped, and I'm sure if you looked up the people who you think never could have had anything like these NATURAL things you have, you'd find something about how they used to "struggle with it" and now it's magically gone.

Cellulite and stretch marks aren't things that need to or should be fixed or hidden; if you got stretch marks like me from building your muscle, BE PROUD, if you have stretch marks from gaining weight after fighting off eating disorders and gaining weight saved your life, BE PROUD, if you have stretch marks from gaining weight and they're still hanging around even after losing some of the weight, see them as a reminder of the progress you've made and BE PROUD. Even if you have stretch marks and cellulite that have come from things you aren't necessarily proud of, BE PROUD that you are real and natural and aren't afraid to show them off because they aren't there to be shameful of. Even if you want them gone, please promise me it's because you want them removed or minimized, not because society made you feel like they were wrong to have, because in that case society is the one at fault.

I've been having a really hard time between not wanting to put on my tight workout clothes because I feel uncomfortably large and snug in them, having to pull down my too tight shorts that fit me last summer with every step I take, having my thighs rub together even though they usually did anyway but thinking it's happening now because they're not toned like they used to be, having my bra bulge hang out or parts of my back shown that I don't like showing, and especially wearing a bathing suit. I was scared as shit today to put on a bathing suit.

In front of my own boyfriend and five strangers I would never see again at the pool today I was scared to take my clothes off and show my body in a bathing suit. I laid down on my chair and took my clothes off with no intention of standing up because I was so uncomfortable and scared of how anyone would look at me. I was scared until I looked down at myself, saw my stretch marks, and realized that it was ok to not love every inch of me, but I am strong and I have grown and will continue to grow and get back to where I was. Most likely I'll earn a few more stripes too, and I am so freakin' excited to show them off this summer.


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