As I write this, it is in actual fact not yet my birthday; one hour and 26 minutes until I am one day older, and one year older at the same time. My parents aren't too big on surprises, spoiling me all year round but rarely failing to disappoint come Christmas or birthdays. Of course, I don't truly mind but as it is, I have already received my lovely birthday presents, which I myself chose.
One of these is the holy grail swimming costume, the elusive item to which I have referred to on this blog.
It's flattering, supportive, inexpensive, my favourite colour; so great that it is featured on the front of the speedo website. It even hides those stretchmarks that my not-so-pristinely-perfect anymore shea butter has as of yet failed to fade.
Which leads me to the point of this post (other than celebrating the anniversary of my blessed birth and introducing you to the holy grail of swimsuits of course). Stretchmarks. Well, not so much stretchmarks as the perceived ugliness of them. Their negative connotations. It appears to me that a stretchmark almost becomes acceptable on women who have been pregnant; seen as a souvenir of the time when they carried their child inside them. but for everyone else, for teenagers or men or anyone else, it is a mark which we should do our very best to eradicate, or at least fade, or at least hide out of sight. It is an unattractive disfigurement, supposedly a sign that you are either fat or used to be. I may not be perfectly happy with my body, but I know that I am not overweight and I know that my friends are not either, and almost every teenaged one of them shares these stretchmarks; maybe not in the same place, the same shade, the same severity but a quick google search shows that I am most definitely not alone.
A stretchmark is a scar. It occurs when the dermis tears due to skin stretching and I have extremely fragile skin which therefore tears more easily. Many other scars are far more accepted by society; in many films and movies the scars of characters are seen as a mark of individuality, even beauty. When you break your elbow and get a raised white scar to show for it, you don't hide it away in long sleeved shirts for the whole of your life, do you? Aren't bruises and scratches simply a way of telling the world about your cool rock n'n roll lifestyle? So why are stretchmarks so hated? I am not going to do a self-righteous turn here and go around baring mine, so why do I hate mine so much?
This post may be perceived as a rant; it probably is. I could go down all sorts of paths now that I've started; stretchmarks are only the beginning. When the whitest of white skin used to be the height of fashion, why do people rush for the fake tan or display such insecurity about baring their white legs without the moral support of a pair of leggings? Hair: since when has body hair become this unsightly thing which provokes such strong reactions of disgust when not waxed, veet'd, epilated, lasered, tweezed and shaved within a millimetre of its life. And of course, the most predictable one of all - weight. When exactly was it that women decided that thin was in and fat was out?
All these unspoken rules of beauty, which I willingly admit to obeying, or cheating (if I know I won't get caught). I will not step out of the house with hairy legs, or if I do, they will be hidden with tights or trousers. Thus, these rules of beauty and not dissimilar to the laws of the land. Why? - a question I'm not going to attempt to answer. So when? When exactly is it that we start following these rules? At what point must be take responsibility for our beauty? The government sets an age, I think it's 10, when a child can be prosecuted for offences such as stealing; any younger and they are not held responsible. Is there such a finite limit with beauty? All I know is that I reached that age a while ago and now I want to know the upper limit; at what age can I go out dressed in purple from top-to-toe (ignore that monochrome is 'in' right now...) and not give a shit what the Beauty Police think? I don't know, but I'm looking forward to it.