Sexy Stretch Marks! That’s right….SEXY! The other night, while I read my son a book, he was aimlessly drawing circles on my side with his thumb. Out of no where he blurted out, “Why do you have these white scars all over your tummy?”
Now, I’m a pretty open Mom. My son knew what a uterus was before he could tie his own shoes. I’ve explained about my stretch marks in the past but now that he’s ten and more aware of body image and the opposite sex, I found myself looking for an explanation that carried more weight – no pun intended.
“Well Buddy, when you were growing inside my uterus, (see above) the elasticity of my skin stretched way beyond its limit to make room for your growing body, and after you were born my skin just stayed that way.” “Gross!” Gross indeed. But then I began to think. In a world full of Pamela Andersons how do you convince a ten year old boy that stretch marks aren’t in fact gross. How do I empower my son to become a person who sees beauty in imperfection, if I’m not necessarily all that convinced of it myself? The answer? Get naked.
For the first time in my thirty-seven years I stood alone, naked, in front of the full length bedroom mirror and really looked at myself. In the reflection, stood this body I hardly knew. Sure, I’ve used it, abused, hidden it, dressed it up – but I’d never really looked at it. Was it really as bad as I thought? I mean, this same body got me through a half marathon with a bum knee. This body carried two beautiful babies into this world. I thought it was time to celebrate it.
In a society bombarded by images of surgically enhanced, digitally altered, and chemically modified bodies, the courage to embrace imperfection as beauty is not only rare but a necessity. So when I really looked at my body this time, I chose to accept, admire and celebrate it. And the next time my son asks about those white scars all over my tummy, I’m calling them beauty marks. After all, it’s all about the packaging, any advertiser will tell you that!
Jack Hourigan is the host of How to Boil Water on Food Network USA and host of Three Takes – Single, Married, Divorced on Life Network Canada. She is a freelance writer, a mother, a Second City Alumni and, despite her name, is female.