Stretch marks are indented streaks that can appear on the skin. They occur most often during periods of rapid growth, such as puberty or pregnancy, but anyone can get stretch marks, and for any number of reasons. They look different depending on your individual skin, how long you've had them, and where they are on your body. For most people, they become less noticeable over time.
We recently asked the Tameans Community to tell us what they want other people to know about their stretch marks. Here are some of their responses.
I’ve had stretch marks for as long as I can remember. My body grew quickly, and early. I started getting my curves in early middle school, and gained weight along the way of course. I don’t hate them. They are a part of me! I’ve had people question me, thinking they are scratches or scars. They’ve never been bothersome to me; I think their silvery sheen is kind of beautiful. To me, they represent another part of myself that I’m “supposed” to hate, but I refuse. They’re on my hips, my ass, my boobs, my arms, my shoulders — pretty much everywhere. They’re a part of me, but they certainly don’t define me, or anyone else who has them!
My stretch marks are a reminder of my strength. During my recovery from anorexia, I gained weight and a few stretch marks on my thighs and around my bum. Once upon a time I saw them as evil, just another obstacle in the way of me achieving skinniness: I now see them as a symbol of courage and recovery from anorexia, and on my darkest days they remind me I am imperfectly perfect.
It's your body's natural response to stretched skin. All it shows is that you've changed, and that isn't a bad thing. They remind me of Kintsugi: the art of repairing broken pottery with gold lacquer and acknowledging that the piece is greater with that repair. Stretch marks are just like that. They show that you have changed and they should be accepted and loved.
When I was 12, I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. I was so sick that I was 5'4" and only weighed 72 pounds. My stretch marks appeared when I started to get healthy again and gain weight fairly fast. I love them because they remind me daily of how strong I was and continue to be.
I wish people would realize that everyone gets stretch marks. They are not just for pregnant women or people losing weight. Every single person can get them. It's just a sign that you grew too fast for your skin. They are not unnatural — in fact, they are the most natural thing. They are the scars from growing up, of change and, of getting older. They aren't to be ashamed of, but loved. They show that you did it — you passed through childhood to being a teenager or adult. And men get them too. They affect all genders and all bodies and it's as simple as that.
I want people to know that my stretch marks don’t need to make them uncomfortable. They are human.
They just mean I’m a person, specifically a person who grew fast. I hit puberty really late and when I did, my hips and thighs filled out very quickly and the stretch marks came immediately. Almost ten years later, I still look like I lost a lot of weight or was pregnant, but all it means is that I am a person.
My stretch marks make me stronger! Never in a million years did I think I’d be working my way into bodybuilding, let alone step on stage for everyone to see my stretch marks. I have them on my stomach so badly that when I bend over my stomach hangs. I have them on my lower back, on my boobs, and on my arms. All the spray tans in the world can’t hide them.
My daughter and I created those marks together while she grew into a healthy human. I would be lying if I said I haven’t thought about skin grafting. But through the years, I learned to accept them. They don't change who I am or my work ethic. I am still worthy. I am still capable of being number one.
I'd guess that most people think stretch marks only happen to women, but I'm a guy with stretch marks on my hips. I'm too old to remember when it happened, but I've got them. I grew quickly after being short for most of my adolescence. But I don't care. I'm still handsome.
—Simon Ritchie, Facebook
This picture is from when I was pregnant with my quadruplets. I have severe PCOS and was told that I likely would never conceive a baby. At 26, I gave birth to my first son with a little help from fertility meds. Fast forward two years, and I wanted to give my son a sibling. After a miscarriage, I conceived quadruplet boys. I carried them to 33 weeks and delivered all four safely, with no complications. I was left with what I call "battle scars," and I wear them proudly. They are proof that my body was capable of doing the one thing I was convinced it couldn't do, and not just once, but twice, and in ways I never could have imagined.
I was severely anorexic 10 years ago. My organs started failing and my body hair was falling out. My family was very supportive and helped me recover really healthfully. I have stretch marks on my hips, thighs and breasts. They remind me that my body is impressive. It lifts tractor tires and runs half marathons. I have pushed it to the limits, good and bad. But I cherish my body, scars, stretch marks, body hair and all.
I just think they're beautiful. The way my skin looks almost like a dull opalescent is kind of bewitching.
My stretch marks come from a very difficult time in my life. A few years ago I was diagnosed with lupus and put on steroids to treat it. Steroids thin your skin and cause weight gain, which often leads to bad stretch marks. I fought hard for a few years, and finally got taken off of the steroids a few months back. To me, my stretch marks mean I am stronger than anything life throws at me, and that no matter how bad things may seem, I can persevere. I am proud of my battle scars!
Calling stretch marks “tiger stripes” or “battle scares” frustrates me just as much as people demonizing them. I know some people need to think of them that way, but I wish we could all stop making them seem larger than life, either positively or negatively. I just want to think of them as a regular body part like my ears or my knees. I want them to become something so regular and boring we stop noticing at all.
I never noticed my stretch marks until I was 16 and my friends started commenting on theirs. After that, I remember looking at my hips in the mirror and thinking that my stretch marks looked like lightening bolts. I felt powerful and beautiful and I loved looking at them. They also looked like untouched pictures of celebrities in their underwear and it felt like I had a connection to some of those women. Now I feel like my marks make me look like a mermaid. You know how the surface of water moves and looks shiny? My hips look like that and I love it!
I have stretch marks on my thighs and I'm still considered small or skinny. To me, stretch marks symbolize growth — any type of growth — whether it's weight gain or just growth with age. They're nothing to be ashamed of even though they've been shoved into a negative stereotype. If you have stretch marks, know that it's not because you need to lose weight and don't shame yourself. Most people get them, so you're not alone.
In grade school, I used to cut on my thighs. My stretch marks cover the scars and remind me of roots. They represent how far I have come in my mental health and overcoming my depression.
Where I'm from, in some cultures, stretch marks are things of beauty, and the more the stretch marks (especially on the legs and thighs), the more beautiful and appealing. With that, I am extremely appealing.
My stretch marks mean I gave life to humans who will one day contribute astronomically to this world.
I was in dance growing up, and in high school I pushed myself harder than ever to be the best dancer that I could be. My thighs became more muscular, causing my skin to stretch faster than it was ready for. I never even noticed my stretch marks until my mom pointed them out to me one day when I was in shorts. I hated them for the longest time. I did everything that I could do to make them disappear.
Now that I'm 23, I'm finally confident with them. They don't bother me anymore, and I look at them with pride. Pride that I once pushed myself to be the best dancer that I could be and I did it to my body because I love dance more than anything. I would do it all over again given the chance.
They represent beauty to me. I’m a thinner person with a large ass. When I went through puberty, my bum practically appeared overnight and so did a lot of stretch marks. All through high school and college, I tried every cream and serum. I was embarrassed to wear a bikini. Now I love them. I have a body shape that makes me feel confident. If I didn’t have stretch marks, I wouldn’t have this shape that I love so much.
I never knew there was something wrong with my stretch marks until my father told me I needed to lose weight at age 10. I cried and obsessed about it. Then my mother told me there was nothing wrong with them and that everyone had them. Since then, my stretch marks don’t mean anything to me because they don’t actually mean anything. I wish people understood that they are as natural as having 10 fingers or 2 eyeballs.
I got them on my thighs, hips, calves and bum during my recovery from anorexia with bulimic tendencies. When I finally decided enough was enough and it was time to give my body permission to be what it was, I threw myself into my volleyball. My lower body grew quickly as I finally ate enough to sustain my body through the sport. At 28, and as a wife and stepmother, I still struggle, but not because I don't love my body. The marks are a reminder that I am a warrior and overcame something that could have killed me.
I never had perfect skin. I have scars on my body from when I was a child (I was a troublemaker) and I don’t regret any of them. I have moles and birthmarks all over my body that I inherited from my mom and from my dad. My stretch marks are just another masterpiece that has been added to my collection. My body is a canvas and all these marks are just beautiful colors that make my body so unique, and I couldn’t be more grateful for them.
My mother has always tried to convince me to get them treated and removed. They're my tiger stripes, as I call them. They depict what I've been through all these years and how has my body changed. They look like lightning bolts; hence a proof of how lit I am.
My stretch marks represent a time in my life when I was at my lowest. They run down the side of my hips, all the way to my calves. I had fallen in to a deep depression and ended up gaining 80 pounds, which just added to my mental issues. I finally hit rock bottom and opted for the long, hard road back to sanity.
Ever since that low moment, I gained an interest in physical health and personal fitness. I have become certified in PT and secured a culinary degree. I cooked for myself to lose the 80 pounds of body fat and have physically trained myself to gain lean muscle on top of that loss!
These stretch marks represent a time in my life that I never want to go back to, and are a constant reminder of how hard I've worked to get where I am now. I would never want get rid of these bad boys. They are my motivation to never stop.
When I was younger I didn’t understand and thought they would disappear. Now I'm an adult and they are still here. I embrace them now — they symbolize being beautiful, voluptuous, and a piece of art.
Through middle school, and now in high school, I’ve struggled with my eating disorder. When I went through recovery the first time, I gained weight pretty quickly and got these purple-red stretch marks on my inner thighs. I used to hate them. Now I wear them like beautiful, color-changing battle scars, marking how far I’ve come and how strong I am, and how recovering and having a healthy body with curves is a good thing. My skin is a reminder that I am a survivor and I am unique and beautiful and enough. I love my stretch marks.
[Responses have been edited for length and clarity.]