The marks on my mother

I remember my mother taking us to the beach in the summer time. We would take a week’s vacation and head to her friend’s cottage in Kincardine. There would be a group of adults and kids collectively. Myself, my little sister and another pair of girls shared a room with bunks. We drank Koolaid – but my mom’s friend called it Freshie.

I had seasonal allergies and I’d be doped up on Benadryl. I was the loser kid passed out on the beach blanket, drugged up and always sleeping away the summer.

I remember my mother baring her stomach in a bikini. She was naturally dark, like my grandfather who was of aboriginal descent. Her hobbies included tanning, so it added to the deep tone of her skin.

Her stretch marks were beautifully lit by the sunlight as she lay on the blanket beside me, catching some of the sun, hot and high above us. She had loose skin from her pregnancies with my sister and myself. I was fascinated by the pattern across her belly. She always spoke so unkindly about the marks; I didn’t understand why. It was skin.

As I grew older and had children of my own, I often thought about my mother and her own body. I thought about her perspective of herself compared to my perspective of her. I didn’t see a problem with it, but she assured me that it wasn’t right; that she wasn’t right for looking a certain way. I mean she exercised regularly and ate healthy. I saw strength, not weakness. In turn I looked at my own body and started to wonder if it was shameful to have stretch mark and loose skin. Society kept telling me it was wrong. The media and my peers kept telling me it was wrong…

I had friends telling me, “You need to be disciplined, Darling…!”

I grew self conscious. I looked at my body as a disgrace; like the marks on it equated to neglect. Never did I think that I was just like 100 billion other woman before me or beside me, having gained or lost weight, or a bearer children.

When did the shift happen? When did our bodies become shameful? When did our marks turn ugly?

I looked at those lines on my mothers stomach and it reminded me of home. This line, that’s where I came from. And this one, was a sister or a brother lost. And this one, it’s my baby sister. Each line connecting and telling a beautiful, cohesive story. Those are our roots. When I laid my child-like head on her I felt nothing but love and warmth.

Now when I see my marks I remember my own story. This belly is where I began my own love story with my littles. I hope one day they look at the lines and how they connect, and they feel at home, too.

We should learn to celebrate our bodies and what they have accomplished; what they can accomplish. We overcome hardships and don’t take the time to truly appreciate what we are capable of. We grow from tiny, useless beings into intelligent, strong, free-thinkers. We innovate, we work hard, we are self sufficient masterminds. We train relentlessly, and lift more weight than we would ever think possible. We endure heartbreak and still manage to carry on.

We are simply amazing.

But still we look at the markings and defects in our bodies as setbacks.

No more, my friends. No more.

Cut that shit out.

You are perfect. I am perfect. And the more we spread this message, the more confident the next generations to come. These lines on my stomach are a sign of life; and a sign of the amazing things I am capable of. I hope you look at your body today and remember all that it has done for you. Be grateful. Be proud.

Put on the bathing suit and just live.

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