The physical scars from pregnancy are double-edged. At times I wonder whether I’d be happier without them. At others I look down at my belly in wonder and can’t believe each of my kids lived in there for 9 months. It’s not just a belly that needs to be flat and look good – it has served another purpose and done a bloody good job of it.
Despite having lost the weight and having a decently flat stomach now, I don’t really show it off because the marks still remain. A far cry from my skinny days when low slung sarees were mandatory!
I don’t wear short stuff for many reasons – I think only teeny boppers really need to be in navel baring tops and the rest of us can get by with the odd flash when we raise our arms, but to be in a top that ends above my navel, is not my idea of being fashionable. The saree on the other hand, is meant to be worn with a bit of your waist left exposed.
I always knew I’d lose the baby weight. I didn’t think I’d get stretchmarks. I guess when you go from 24 inches to 48 in a matter of weeks and then back, it’s bound to happen. What no one told me is that they went from an angry purple to red, to now silvery marks, with the skin around them still darker than the rest of my skin tone. It took me days to get over the horror of what my belly looked like, just like most accident and trauma victims can’t get over scars and marks that tell a tale. They’re not ugly or embarassing. They say you’ve survived. That you experienced something and have a memento to show from it.
As my mom often tells me, stretchmarks are not a bad thing and it’s alright if they show because then people know that it’s more than just a slim waist, it’s a waist that produced kids and still got back in to shape – it’s commendable. She says women in her generation didn’t shy away from them, so why does our generation look to hide them? Fair point. A lot more emancipated then you’d imagine.
Which is all very well as far as pep talks go – but I just missed my old smooth belly after I had the Brat.
And then over the last two years since I had the Bean I’ve gone back to wearing chiffon sarees for cocktails and stuff and I am no longer so particular to keep my stomach covered because the odd flash of stretchmarked waist doesn’t embarass me. I was just learning to be proud of my body as it is…
And then I see this post where a fantastically fit Malaika is flaunting a belly that seems to be untouched by a scalpel, and showing off her stretchmarks.. and there are a bunch of unreal people commenting – Oh look stretchmarks. Why can’t she cover them up?
And all I can think is Dude!! Some perspective. You’d be hardpressed to find young college girls in as good shape as Malaika. Hell – most days I realise I’m in better shape than the other non-mothers I know – and Malaika is miles ahead in the way she’s kept her figure. I love that she is showing off both her amazing body as well as motherhood with such pride and confidence…
The shocking part is that the comments seem to come from young girls – I am only assuming since I found them on a fashion site, that they aren’t men. While I don’t expect all of them to be mothers, I suppose a percentage of them definitely will be. What makes stretchmarks such a terrible thing? Why do we need to cover them up? Who sets these standards of perfection? Why do all scars need to be disguised and covered up?
I’ve already posted my views on plastic surgery. And botox. So it’s sad and scary to read comments that require a woman to look perfect after having a baby. To have people behave like motherhood and pregnancy are meant to be dirty little secrets. To note that younger women (well they might be older than me too!) are unable to appreciate the natural and those who actually slog to look their best. That we expect every little scar to be concealed. That our idea of beauty is plastic perfection.
We’re okay with an old Big B and his grey beard, but not with a Malaika and her stretchmarks. No wonder it’s so hard for older actresses to come back in roles of substance. I know atleast four models who scheduled tummy tucks with their cesareans and then had boob jobs and came back after their babies looking spotless – which is so damn sad. Why can’t we accept what age and experiences do to our bodies? Why do models and actresses need to do it, and worse, why do us normal women need to look unscarred?
And what makes it alright or polite to say that they should be covered? Would it be acceptable in polite company to tell a person who bears a scar from an accident or other surgery to cover it up? Or to tell them that their scars are grossing you out? If that is the case, I’ll happily move to the jungles.
I attended a wedding a few days ago – glad to be back in the chiffon saree and teeny blouse that I fitted into long ago! Only to have some friends tell me rather rudely that I look like a mother. I didn’t take offence to the whole ‘looking like a mother’ bit. I took offence to the fact that it was said rather critically. Why is it bad to look like a mother? I want my kids to remember me as a mother and not as an elder sister. I’m fine with you aspiring to look young. I don’t. I am quite happy looking my age and my role. And I don’t chase youth. I might aspire to be as zen as Tara or Dot - but ‘looking young’ is not on my list of ‘Things I want to grow up to be.’
Yes, I look like a mother. I am one. I’m proud of my kids, and the fact that I am back in rather decent shape. I love being thirty. I love being a mother. I love my body. I love that time is moving on and taking me with it.
As for the stretch marks and the cheesy reference to them as badges of honour. No thank you. And there’s no point calling them that. It seems like such a farce in the face of such reactions. They’re neither honourable nor dishonourable. They’re just a fact of life. One I accept with grace and embrace.