I started Stretchmarklandia for a few reasons. The first is that I am, ostensibly, a writer — BA in English and all — but I don’t write much anymore, mainly because I can’t think of things to write about.
But also because recently, I have found something I cannot shut up about: myself.
Like many other people you know, I happen to have a body. Alan Watts would go so far as to say that I am a body. There are bones and muscles and entrails and hair and genitals, not to mention adipose tissue to spare. There is skin. Skin with freckles, lots of scars, occasional eczema breakouts, random rashes, and stretch marks.
I have lots of stretch marks. Stretch marks of many sizes, colors, shapes, locations. They range from translucent white to rich purple. They’re on my hips, my tits, my arms, my bikini line. They tell a history of me, my body — a story that involves rapid weight gain and loss and gain, malnourishment and overnourishment, binging and purging, suffering and, finally, healing.
I picked the name “Stretchmarklandia” because apparently, “Stretch Marks the Spot” is a popular enough pun to have Google results, and because I like the idea of this blog feeling like a literal place for me and you to let loose, let our loose skin loose, let our stretch marks loose to cause a public nuisance and rouse the rabble because there is nothing wrong with how our bodies look.
I repeat: nothing.
I haven’t always thought so. Sure, I thought as much about other women, but surely there was still something wrong with me. Other people could pull off beauty but there must have been something intrinsic to my body, at times lean, at times quite fat, that didn’t make the cut.
But then I started reading. I started reading The Skinny Online and Dances with Fat and Shakesville and Eat the Damn Cake, and I inundated myself with messages of beauty — not inner beauty, dammit, but outer beauty, the outer beauty of every goddamn individual, regardless of hir shape or size or color or configuration — and out of some miracle of saturation, of osmosis, I realized that I, this body I am, was part of this planet of beautiful people.
I’m one of the beautiful ones, and you are too.
And that’s why I give a shit, and why I’m creating Stretchmarklandia. Because my whole life, I heard a noise I dismissed as part of the background, as expected and unextraordinary as wind or traffic. The noise told me my body isn’t good enough; that I should always whittle it down; that I should smooth my skin to one even tone; that my hair wasn’t long and lustrous enough; that I wasn’t an adequate woman, and couldn’t be, but had to try like hell to make up for my deficits.
This was noise I, like most of us, ignored every day. Ignored in the magazines, on television, where women shaped like me were scarce; ignored on my commute, when trucks passed by with ads for weight loss supplements and headless, toned, barely dressed female bodies; ignored among other women, discussing their diets and their “problem zones” and the parts of their body they hate, hate, hate, and must get rid of, fast —
But one day I noticed that noise. And it stopped being some inevitable hum in the background. I heard it screeching and grinding with the hate of billions of people, billions of bodies with hearts and minds and low self esteem, and I ceased to be able to tolerate it.
I will join the voices screaming above that noise until it recedes into silence.
Welcome to Stretchmarklandia, just one foothold where you can hear your own self worth above the din.