Stretch marks tell a story. While not exclusive to mothers, they have become synonymous with pregnancy and postpartum. Once feared and hidden, they’re now celebrated. Stretch marks in motherhood are a physical reminder of how our remarkable bodies change, grow, and literally stretch to accommodate life. They represent the ultimate love.
We love a good self-portrait, and these stunning snaps showcasing the variety and beauty of “stretchies” are jaw-droppingly gorgeous. The women featured below are at the forefront of a movement to normalize and celebrate postpartum bodies, in all their forms. These moms are sharing their experiences of motherhood online to empower other women and to break the stigma around what a woman “should” look like, one photo at a time. Equally as beautiful, their captions speak their own thoughts and raw emotions while reflecting how their perceptions of, and appreciation for, their body has grown.
16-year old me would absolutely die at the thought of posting this picture because of how my stomach looks. Now I’m proud of these stretch marks and this loose skin. I’ve grown two amazing human beings that I get the privilege of watching grow up. Sure, I’m going to try and lose some of this weight, start working out again, and try to eat a healthy diet, while eating junky snacks. This time around, however, I don’t mind showing me to you. | Raising Rhys
It takes a lot of healing and finding inner your peace to dig yourself out. Take it one day at a time. We all struggle. You aren’t alone. | Danisha Lestaevel
30+ pounds heavier, and stomach stretched with dozens and dozens of tiger stripes – but regardless of the extreme changes my body has endured, I have never felt more empowered. | Christine Cote
At times it was hard for her to love. She compared, and sometimes even hated, herself.
Her body became an enemy to the standards of “beauty,” and a bigger enemy to herself.
She called it names.
She picked it apart.
She hid it away.
She wished it gone,
And fell into a hole of self-hatred.
And soon she got so tired.
Tired of hating herself.
Tired of degrading herself.
Tired of trying to change and be anything but herself.
Tired of running from the idea of loving the body that came from her babies. She wanted to experience the feeling of love for herself inside and out. So she began to change how she was wired to think. She used kind words when describing herself.
She wore what she wanted to, even when it scared her.
She looked for the small things to appreciate about her body, and she held onto those for the harder days. She smiled more, and she started to really see herself in a new light. Her entire body had rearranged itself, from the inside to the outside, so of course it was different now!
Her skin was wrinkled and loose because it was once a protective barrier for her growing babies. Her stomach had grown and expanded to fit each of her babies perfectly. The marks and scars became reminders of her children and her start into motherhood.
Her body was a home.
Her body is strong and unique.
Her body brought her the greatest gifts, and for that she truly does love it.
She was never broken or ugly.
She never needed to change or mold herself.
She was always a beautiful powerhouse.
She just needed to look at herself a bit differently. | Tori McCain
Doctors, friends, and family spend so much time talking to you about the pregnancy and the upcoming birth – and yes, those are very important to prepare for – but so is postpartum. Somewhere along the way we’ve forgotten women still need guidance and support after they’ve had their babies.
I’ve heard it said before but didn’t believe how it could be possible until I was in the thick of it. The fourth trimester is without a doubt the hardest. | Shelby Muniz
My love for her grew as she grew.
Getting to feel my sons kick and roll around in her tummy was surreal. Watching her deliver our sons and see how much she and her body had to work to bring our them into the world will forever be the greatest thing I’ll ever witness. I am so proud of her and the woman, wife, and mother she has become.
She is more than just a great partner. She gives me a sense of purpose. How can I see her body as anything other than beautiful?
Every inch of her is beautiful.
I love her for who she is and the person she is becoming. | Kristyn Dingman
They’ve faded to silver. And what I once hated, I now love. My marks of motherhood: of kicks, squirms, sleepless nights, heartburn, body aches, blood sugar checks, insulin injections. Of life. I have a tummy full of stripes and a thick, white scar that brought life into the world. I would have been so disappointed five years ago to know these stripes would never fade. But they’re a part of my identity now.
My body has grown and stretched twice to give me two beautiful babies, and is now doing it again for our newest love. Rounding the corner to my final trimester of pregnancy and trying to give myself patience, grace and love in the season of growing. Thank you, body. | Megan Pfaffenberger