You want to know what causes stretch marks? Life. Life causes stretch marks.
And there’s nothing intrinsically harmful or–as media of all forms would have us believe–“ugly” about them.
Stretch marks are a signifier of change and growth—something we as a culture seem to despise on women’s bodies. Maybe it’s time we interrupted this chauvinistic narrative.
(That being said, if you have stretch marks and you’re not into them, also fine. You get to feel whatever you feel about your body. With. No. Shame.)
So, let’s start from the beginning. What even are they?
In this article: 📝
- What are stretch marks?
- How to get rid of stretch marks
What are stretch marks?
Stretch marks are scars that appear when your skin is quite literally stretched thin. They emerge as a pattern of parallel(ish) squiggles and are available in a full palette of colors, from blue to purple to pinkish to grey to silver.
They can pop up in various places on your body—your butt, your thighs, your abs, your breast, your hips, etc.
What are stretch marks a sign of?
Stretch marks are a sign of change in your body.
So how do stretch marks form? Pregnancy is a big catalyst. So is puberty. They can also occur if you gain or lose a lot of weight quickly. Another reason? Serious weight training that causes your muscles to get bigger, fast.
In rare cases, stretch marks can be caused by a medical condition like Marfan syndrome, which affects connective tissue.
Stretch marks go by variations of the Latin term striae, meaning “furrows”:
Striae gravidarum are the stretch marks that come after pregnancy.
Striae distensae is a catch-all term for the stretch marks that make their debut outside of pregnancy.
More categories include:
Striae rubrae, the pinkish-reddish type, and
Striae albae, the white ones.
If your stretch mark is red, it probably formed more recently and might be more responsive to some forms of treatment.
How to get rid of stretch marks
How can stretch marks be prevented?
So, here’s the deal: they can’t really be prevented. They happen. They’re more likely to happen if they run in your family.
Keeping hydrated and eating a nutrient-rich diet might help stave them off, but there are no guarantees. Some people swear by various lotions and creams, but these aren’t proven to work either. In any case, treating yourself to healthy food and lots of water and massaging your belly with lotion are good self-care To Do’s, stretch marks or no.
Do stretch marks go away?
Stretch marks are scars. Meaning they’re permanent.
Sometimes they lighten. Sometimes they appear to fade completely. And sometimes they stubbornly stick around in all their glory as a permanent fixture.
How to treat stretch marks
There are a bunch of treatments on the market. They start on the low end of the price spectrum (creams and gels) to the high end (cosmetic surgery).
Real talk: treatment for stretch marks is not always effective. In fact, no one treatment has been proven to work across the board. That’s right—a cure-all for stretch marks is yet to be found.
If your stretch marks are driving you nuts, one option is to apply self-tan to diminish their appearance. Make-up can work too.
And while you’re doing whatever you’re doing or not doing, join us in changing up the narrative. Rather than call them harmless but unsightly, let’s just call them harmless.
Those stretch marks are a sign of transition—the marks you get as you move from one end of a portal to another.
Try—even just an exercise, just for today—to love them.