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.
1. "They represent another part of myself that I’m 'supposed' to hate, but I refuse."
2. "Once upon a time I saw them as evil. I now see them as a symbol of courage and recovery from anorexia."
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.
3. "They remind me of Kintsugi: the art of repairing broken pottery with gold lacquer and acknowledging that the piece is greater with that repair."
4. "I was so sick from Crohn's disease that I only weighed 72 pounds. My stretch marks appeared when I started to get healthy again. I love them."
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.
5. "Stretch marks are not just for women. They affect all genders and all bodies and it's as simple as that."
6. "I want people to know that my stretch marks don’t need to make them uncomfortable.
I want people to know that my stretch marks don’t need to make them uncomfortable. They are human.
7. "They just mean I’m a person, specifically a person who grew fast."
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.
8. "They make me stronger! Never in a million years did I think I'd work my way into bodybuilding and step on stage for everyone to see my stretch marks."
9. "I'm a guy with stretch marks on my hips because I grew quickly. But I don't care. I'm still handsome."
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
10. "I have PCOS and was told I would likely never conceive. My stretch marks are proof that my body was capable of doing the one thing I was convinced it couldn't do."
11. "They remind me that my body is impressive. I have pushed it to the limits, good and bad."
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.
12. "The way my skin looks almost like a dull opalescent is kind of bewitching."
13. "My stretch marks come from when I was put on steroids to treat lupus, which caused weight gain. They mean I am stronger than anything life throws at me."
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!
14. "I just want to think of them as a regular body part like my ears or knees."
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.
15. "My stretch marks remind me of the journey my body has been on."
16. "I feel like my marks make me look like a mermaid."
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!
17. "To me, stretch marks symbolize growth — any type of growth."
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.
18. "I used to cut on my thighs. My stretch marks cover the scars. They represent how far I have come in my mental health."
19. "Where I'm from, in some cultures, stretch marks are things of beauty, and the more the stretch marks, the more beautiful."
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.
20. "My stretch marks mean I gave life to humans who will one day contribute astronomically to this world."
My stretch marks mean I gave life to humans who will one day contribute astronomically to this world.
21. "I look at them with pride. Pride that I once pushed myself to be the best dancer that I could be."
22. "They represent beauty to me. If I didn't have stretch marks, I wouldn't have this shape that I love so much."
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.
23. "I wish people understood that they are as natural as having 10 fingers or two eyeballs."
24. "The marks are a reminder that I am a warrior and overcame something that could have killed me."
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.
25. "My body is a canvas and all these marks are beautiful colors that make my body unique."
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.
26. "They look like lightning bolts; hence a proof of how lit I am."
27. "My stretch marks are a constant reminder of how hard I've worked to get where I am now."
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.
28. "They symbolize being beautiful, voluptuous, and a piece of art."
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.
29. "I used to hate them. Now I wear them like beautiful, color-changing battle scars, marking how far I’ve come."
[Responses have been edited for length and clarity.]