Thanks to body-positive bloggers and influencers, the reality of stretch marks and the trend to show them off has become increasingly accepted across social media.
But a lot of those messages come with a caveat. Most stretch mark-positive posts seem to be geared for new moms, women who have lost or gained a significant amount of weight, or those who've experienced a major body transformation that has left those tiny stripes on their skin.
In response to this, one woman has come forward to show that you don’t need to have had a reason to have stretch marks—they’re a natural part of aging.
Lisa Hayim, RD, who founded the food and lifestyle blog The Well Necessities, recently shared a close-up photo of her stretch marks in an intimate Instagram post. “No babies. No weight fluctuations. Just a girl who’s lived 30 years and got something to show for it,” she wrote alongside a bikini photo that zoomed in on her hip. “Remember the only one who cares what you look like or what you eat is YOU.”
"Despite having body image and food issues for over a decade, my stretch marks have never bothered me," Hayim tells Health. "I remember the first time I saw them a few years ago. I looked down and thought, Wow, you're no longer a girl—you're a woman. Not only have you lived and endured what life's thrown at you, but you've got proof and a body that tells your story."
Hayim explains that posting this photo was also important because it reminded her that feeling sexy reflected how she felt about herself, not what anyone else thought of her.
"These stretch marks make me feel sexy from the outside in and they are my own personal reminder that I am my own best friend," Hayim says.
While Hayim explains that she's in support of everyone who shows off their natural beauty, she wanted to aim her post toward women who might feel ashamed about how their bodies have naturally developed.
"Stretch marks aren't just a normal part of aging, they are a normal part of living," Hayim says. "If you're going to go out there and live your best life with your heart on your sleeve (which, by the way, you should do), it's going to come with war wounds—some of which will physically show on your body, like stretch marks."
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