Some thoughts about stretch marks and accepting our ‘imperfections’

Pregnancy-related stretch marks are a genetic reality in my family. My mom, who birthed five babies, has them, as did her mother, and I knew the chances were good that I would get them too.

When I was pregnant with my first baby I remember using all of the creams and oils on the market to keep my belly constantly moisturized. It was all going well into the third trimester but just when I thought I might have dodged the stretchmark gene, they showed up around week 35. Boom! New ones seemed to appear daily and they zigzagged their way across my belly in a few short weeks.

It’s been nearly 12 years since I’ve worn a bikini in public thanks to those marks. I wasn’t overly bothered though. I sort of shrugged off my bikini-wearing days by convincing myself that a one-piece suits my body better and, anyway, now that I was a mum I should probably be a bit more conservative. I also figured I was doing everyone else a favour by covering up my belly scars.

But then… I was talking to a friend the other day as we were sitting on the beach, and I was complaining about how tight my one-piece suits were getting on my pregnant belly. When she suggested I wear a bikini, I told her I hadn’t worn one in 12 years due to my stretch marks… and she looked at me like I had just made the most stupid remark she had ever heard. I could almost see the respect she once held for me evaporate into the balmy summer air. And she said, ‘as the mother of two girls, I would really expect that you would have a healthier body image – even just to set a better example’.

Wow. I had never even really thought about it like that before. Here I was, covering up a part of my body that I felt insecure about. I was hiding a perfectly natural effect of pregnancy rather than accepting my body and sending a better message to my girls (and boys) about loving their bodies and embracing all of their features, even what we perceive as ‘imperfections’.

Of course we all have insecurities in some form or another, and surely we all have parts of our bodies that we would change if we could… but my friend was right: in trying to hide our bodies (or to attempt to ‘fix ‘ them with creams, lasers or injections), what kind of message are we sending to our children? Shouldn’t we be leading by example, showing our kids that every body is a beautiful body? That confidence and gratitude are the feelings we should associate with our bodies, not embarrassment or shame?

Easier said than done, I know. But… I bought myself a bikini last month and have worn it to the beach a few times already. My kids were actually excited by this new attire and even proud to have a pregnant mama in a bikini.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. Do you have stretch marks? Do you see them as a badge of honour for the babies you’ve carried or do you try to keep them hidden away? How do you teach your kids to accept their bodies?


Comments (36)

February 2, 2017

I am a mom of Three Girls (10,4,2) also still quite Young (33) got my First 24! I have some stretchmarks i always had such big bellies in my pregnancies….with normal sized Babies :-)…. I wear bikinis because i think it is so much more comfortable on the Beach, i hate soaked wet swimsuits :-/! So I say a Go for Bikinis Mamas! Don’t hide yourself , also i habe expirienced that the Marks Are getting smaler by the years, with normal moistorizing your Skin…..WE Are Mothers WE have carried Babies in our whomb! I think this should be Seen als beautyfull again! By the way You Are such a beautyfull Woman Courtney, pregnant or not! I Admire you! Sending Love from Germany <3!

February 2, 2017

I also have stretch marks – not on my belly, as one could consider after 3 kids – but on my thighs from growing as a teenager. Thanfully they got lighter over the years, so I tend to forget them.
Untill last year I also considered swimsuits, since I never got my weight and belly back (too wobbly 😉), but then, I like myself in a bikini and I’m a Mama, so what?
I think women are way to critical with themselfes. We see flaws on ourselfs, nobody else notices. We should have a more loving eye on ourselfs. So yeah to bikinis! And is there an thing more beautifull than a pregnant belly?
xxx Diana

February 2, 2017

Lovely post Courtney, thank you for sharing! Right now I’m 41 weeks pregnant of our second child. No stretch marks visible with both pregnancies, so I guess I’m lucky with that. However my body is and has been stretched by the weight gain (relatively normal weight gain I would say) and that is visible. My body does not look as lean as it did when I was in my twenties, but this is something I also won’t hide on a beach. As I fully agree with your point of view; as a parent you should lead by example for nearly all you would like to teach your kids. This means I will be eating extra healthy and exercise more again once my body will be recovered from this birth, so my 3 year old daughter will see me with confidence on the beach again this summer. And most important: happy in body and having fun! Wishing you good luck your last few pregnant weeks, must be so different to be in nearly tropical Oz instead of cold wintery London right now 😉 Love from The Netherlands! xx

February 2, 2017

My greatest fear with having a girl was making sure I could teach her to love her body, no matter what, which is so hard for women these days, and something that I have struggled with. Thank you for sharing! You are beautiful – inside and out – in your bikini!

February 2, 2017

Hello, I have 5 boys aged 11-3 years. I got stretch marks during my second pregnancy, he was a 4.6kg baby. I hide my stretch marks but it’s the loose skin that bothers me more than the scars. I wear high waisted bikinis or one pieces. I’m trying to show my boys I accept my body through my actions, to show them it’s cool to be strong and healthy. I’ll join them for a session of cannon balls off a jetty into the ocean, bike riding, boogie boarding etc. It’s still a struggle to always feel comfortable with the scars but as you said they are a result of producing something pretty special. You look wonderful Courtney. X

February 2, 2017

I have not had stretch marks, but never got my tummy flat after pregnancy, which I am very conscious about. I stopped wearing bikinis because of that, but I have never looked at it from this perspective. However, I won’t look at it like that now either. Uncomfort is an emotion and is hard to switch off. I’d rather cover up and go to the beach and have fun with my children and feel confident and happy, than constantly looking down and feeling rather unhappy about a part of my body I cannot become happy with and missing out on a moment with far more important perspectives. I don’t think you sent the wrong message to your girls by wearing swimmers. I don’t think they are aware why you wear them and they wear them too, … like Mummy. I find it far more imortant to be upfront about it and to say, yes I am not perfect, but I make the best out of what I have and in the end, as long as I look after myself and I am a good person, my imperfections are part of my entire beauty. But, I don’t think one has to step out of their comfort zone to live up to those principles. And, swimmers can be tremendously elegant, so what’s wrong about that?

February 2, 2017

I totally agree with Andrea. Feel much better wearing my one-peace!

February 2, 2017

Couldn’t agree more! The best example to our kids is in wearing what makes you feel good, beautiful and comfortable, whether you have this or that type of body… and, of course, to take care of it in every stage of your life.
But, concerning swimsuits? oh, far more elegant than any bikini I have found.

Lara in London
February 2, 2017

Thank you so much for this. Stretch mark mamas unite! I have them on my hips from growing like a weed… 4″ taller in one month when I was a teenager, and then a few more stretch marks joined the party during both pregnancies (we all carry weight so differently), and I always feel a bit uncomfortable in swimsuits but now… watch out, here I come! 🙂 Thank you as always for your honesty. Big kisses from rainy London. xx

February 2, 2017

You’re so right Courtney . If I tried to hide everything that bothered me I would never leave the house!!!! Live free!!!! Love the post xx

February 2, 2017

As an interesting side note, my husband is a very thin 6’7″ man with zebra-like stretch marks on his lower back from his adolescent growth spurt. It would never occur to him to hide his back! Women are held to such a different standard.
And back to the subject at hand, go Courtney! You are an exceptionally beautiful woman, and confidence is just another layer of beauty.

Lynn M.
February 2, 2017

I think you should be allowed to wear whatever makes you feel totally comfortable – if that means a bikini, fine. If you prefer a one-piece, however, I don’t think you deserve judgment, or people assuming that you are hiding something out of shame. I guess this could apply to a lot of things women do to their bodies out of preference and not necessarily societal demands – body hair removal, dying the gray from one’s hair, wearing lipstick, etc.

February 2, 2017

You are stunning pregnant (and otherwise)! This post was a wonderful reminder and something I want to emulate going forward for my son and future children. Kudos to you for your strength and confidence!

February 2, 2017

Hi Courtney,
I loved this candid post from you. You look so happy and that bikini looks so absolutely natural on you! And it sounds like you have a lovely friend who helps you feel comfortable in your own skin. Those are the very best friends to have. I have always been self concious to ever wear a bathing suit. Then, while we were all in Croatia, I saw so many very elderly ladies walking around topless! I went right back to our place to throw on my suit and get back out there! Confindence is hard to find, but wonderful when you find it. Hope you are feeling well in the final months. Take care.

February 2, 2017

My own mother was not great about teaching body positivity. In fact, she is very critical of my body and my sisters’ bodies. I was the rare ballerina whose body image was improved by the practice! Because my own mother is so negative, I vowed to set a better example for my daughter. I will be the first to admit that it’s not easy to embrace changes as I get older. My 34 year old mom body doesn’t look quite like my 24 year old dancer’s body, but I want my daughter to see me in the water having fun, and I want to have fun! We took my mother -in-law and sister-in-law to the beach and they wouldn’t wear their suits and sat roasting and miserable the whole time. That’s not what I want for anyone! Bikinis are the answer for me mostly because I’m tall and one pieces rarely fit. At least not comfortably!

Luckily for me were the women on my dad’s side of the family who are very accepting. My grandmother lived for the beach. She was very overweight with severe varicose veins and she NEVER hesitated to put on her suit and splash around with us. That example really stuck with me. Ballet also gave me an ease with my body, and a certain level of comfort with being somewhat exposed. I live in the southern United States where it’s very hot, so modesty is an afterthought. It’s common to see women of all body types in shorts and tank tops enjoying themselves, and I love that. I’m looking forward to spending as much time as possible in my pool this summer, as I’m expecting a baby in July and floating in a pool at nine months pregnant sounds like the best way to be comfortable! I will be proudly wearing my bikini!

(My one caveat: melanoma runs heavily in my family so I have adopted rash guards as my go-to midday swim attire. I want to set a positive example for my kids in regard to body shame, but I also want sun safety to be second nature to them!)

February 2, 2017

How blessed we are to have these stretch marks as it means we have been fortunate enough to have had beautiful babies. That is also how I feel about my two c-section scars, which I proudly show my daughters and explain that the scars are a reminder of how they entered the world safely. I am thankful for these scars of mine everyday x

February 2, 2017

I love this post. As a mom with two daughters (2.5 years and 1 month) this is something I have thought about a lot. My mom has severe body issues and it was not easy for me to overcome the issues she put on me. I think it’s so important to be a good example by being healthy and confident. I have some stretch marks from my pregnancies and I prefer to wear high waisted bathing suits(even before babies) because they are easier for being active and diving under waves. Wear what makes you feel good – our scars are badges we have earned and should be proud. 🙂

Xo, Randi

February 2, 2017

Great post – I have 2 daughters as well … I didn’t get stretch marks from my 3 pregnancies but I do have my body insecurities – what woman doesn’t? Obviously I want my daughters to feel comfortable in themselves but Im sure as they get older they will have their own hangups about their image, just as I and most other women have done. I want them to understand is that they’re not alone in this – no one feels their perfect … be confident with what you are. I think its easy to blow our insecurities out of proportion in our own mind… Being kind, honest & happy radiates from the inside out – to me, those are the most beautiful people xx

February 2, 2017

This post comes on the right time for me. Six weeks ago our I became a mummy of our second baby. Unfortunately I got the stretch marks this pregnancy. We were talking about them yesterday as I’m hesitating to buy a one piece instead of a new bikini for when we are going to Bali in a few months. I said to my husband that I’m ashamed of the marks, that they are still so pink or even purple and that I wanted to hide them. He thought it was ridiculous. He said I shouldn’t be ashamed and just wear a bikini. I immediately think that he’s just saying this to make me happy but he’s right. It’s nature and why should we be ashamed. It’s a beautiful thing that we can carry babies in our bellies and this shows that we did. That we had a baby in our belly. That we were so lucky to carry one or more. Because there are also people who would love to and think that we are silly to think that we should be ashamed. But still it’s easier said than done yes…

February 3, 2017

And here I’ve always been inspired by your elegance and that you were different from so many women by wearing one pieces. I never would have thought that you were only hiding stretch marks. No doubt you will be lovely no matter your choice.

Courtney in Australia
February 3, 2017

Haha. You’re so sweet. I DO really love wearing one pieces and find them the most elegant. It’s just that it is trickier to wear them with a big pregnant bump and am starting to find that they are uncomfortable… which is why I opened the bikini can of worms to begin with. 🙂 xx

February 3, 2017

Each mark, each wrinkle tell us a story! You are beautiful and unique the way you are!

February 3, 2017

Paradoxically, since giving birth my body has never looked worse and I have never loved it more. I think it’s a combination of absolute awe in its ability to grow, birth and breastfeed a baby – coupled with not having time to scrutinise my imperfections in the mirror anymore! I wore a bikini to the beach last summer – it wasn’t a conscious decision to display my altered body, I just packed my old pre-pregnancy bikinis and didn’t buy anything new – but to be honest I was so caught up in my son’s joyful discovery of a new world by the sea that I rarely thought about what I looked like; not something I could have anticipated before having a child but I’m very grateful to feel this way.

And Courtney, I would never have found the stretch marks in that photo! I see a beautiful bump, a beautiful woman, a beautiful child, on a beautiful beach in what looks like paradise – how lovely!

February 3, 2017

Growing up my Mom my was always on a diet. She was 5’2″ and never more than a size 4, but all I remember is her constantly complaining about her ‘huge thighs’. I, on the other, am 5’6″ and have never been smaller than a size 10. I grew up thinking I needed to be the same size as my mom, even that would never be physically possible. When she would go on crash diets, I would join in. I think this started a terrible dieting cycle that took me about 15 years to break out of.
Now that I have a daughter, I can’t wait to be a different role model for her. My belly is covered in stretch marks and I will never hide it from her. When she is playing on my stomach and grabbing my loose skin, I always point out that she used to be in there. I will be very careful to never talk disparagingly about my own body or anyone else in front of her.

February 4, 2017

Courtney, you are way better at discussing stretch marks than politics! Focus on what you are an expert at!

February 4, 2017

Hey. Be kind. Be nice. You know, what we have to remind 2 year olds to do and apparently you too!

February 4, 2017

You look absolutely stunning in the photo. I think we should all be proud of the traces (I won’t use the word scars) of pregnancy that are left on our bodies, and I think we should teach our children that imperfections are beautiful – people will love you because of them, not despite them.


February 5, 2017

I call them my tiger stripes! I was just looking at my tummy the other day and thinking that I felt confident in my body shape to wear a two piece, but was hesitant about my stretch marks. I decided that I was going to get a two piece for this summer (for our trip to Sri Lanka!!) and see how I feel. We were apparently on the same wave length! I may not have an adorable baby belly (just a deflated mama belly) but I love the idea of normalising my stretch marks not only for other women, but also for my kids. That, and they probably won’t look quite so sad once they get a bit of sun on them!

Rachel | The Little Pip
February 6, 2017

I don’t think a love of one piece suits has to imply that you have imperfections you wish to cover up and I don’t think it automatically suggests you are setting a bad body image example for your daughters… After all, they wear one piece suits, and my daughter loves matching with me. I find it harder to explain why I want to wear a bikini not a one piece when at 4 I would prefer her not to wear a bikini. I assume you don’t explain your choice as hiding imperfections, more that you like wearing it, feel more comfortable in it, can run/surf/swim more easily in etc.

Obviously when heavily pregnant, you probably either need to wear a bikini or a specific maternity suit (I found a good compromise was a maternity tankini top with ordinary bikini bottoms) so it is a different conversation, but it surprised me that your friend would assume you gave your daughters a poor message. I think you can absolutely love your body and your imperfections but still choose to not wear a bikini…

February 8, 2017

[…] What I love about this post is just how much our kids love us… despite all the things we think are wrong with us… On Babyccino, Some thoughts about stretch marks and accepting our “imperfections.” […]

Rivky Breuer
February 12, 2017

I’ve had stretch marks since I birthed my eldest who is 12.5, on an otherwise svelte figure. When I nurse my baby, my kids ask about the marks, I tell them its from having them!

March 18, 2017

Dermelastic serum worked for minor stretch marks after having my son. I just had a few near my belly button. I was shocked that it worked on more pronounced stretch marks when I had my daughter. I had many more with her on my belly and while they aren’t completely gone they are extremely diminished and I didn’t even use it as often as it says too.

Anya Anya
September 19, 2017

Actually I am very conscious about my body So after my first pregnancy I started using dermalmd stretch mark serum and I used three jars and this is the first stretch mark serum that has worked for me. I went on vacation and was able to wear a two piece confidently. I even took pictures and my boyfriend said baby you cant even see your stretch marks at all we were at the beach. It helped fade stretch marks that were over 10 years after my first pregnancy. It improved my stretch marks and fade the deepest red thick mark i had . Dermalmd is amazing i saw results within the 2nd week. Consistency is key use in morning and afternoon!!

October 25, 2017

Dermalmd “holy grail” product to prevent pregnancy stretch marks so I bought dermalmd stretch mark serum as soon as I found out on google. I purchased this serum along with the Burt’s Bees Mamma Bee Belly Butter. I have enjoyed using both together or separate depending on how I was feeling that day before bed. The dermalmd really absorbs quickly into the skin so you don’t have to worry too much but I also use a small amount so it’s not messy. I also love the fragrance.

April 22, 2018

I love this. Not quite ready to bare my stretchmarks in a bikini but it has definitely boosted my confidence.

Totally OT but where is Courtney’s beautiful cover-up/kimono from? It’s gorgeous!

Courtney in Australia
April 22, 2018

Hi Amy,
My kimono wrap is from Ace & Jig, but it’s now a few years old!
Thanks for your comment. x

Leave a Comment