I'm talking stretch marks. I haven't seen any in a long while. In fact, the last time I remember noticing them was when I lost a little weight a few years back (two full time jobs will do that for you). I did a little research and it seems that there are various causes of stretch marks: pregnancy, severe hormonal changes (steroid use seemed to be mentioned most often), rapid weight gain, generally being a teenager, and excessive and rapid weight loss. Most stretch marks seem to be caused by getting too big too fast and are described as angry red or purple marks that eventually fade to a paler, fleshier color. I don't think that's me. My stretch marks have always been stealthy, but then there was nothing fast about my weight gain. Thinking back, I've never noticed them except when my weight happened to dip a little. I think I fall under the rapid weight loss category. My theory, which may be way off base as I'm not a medical professional, is that the dermis of my skin has been gradually stretched over the years, which would explain the lack angry red/purple marks. Now, as I'm losing weight and slimming down, the dermis is collapsing revealing the damage that has been done.Think silly putty. We've all played with it. Do you remember the first time you played with silly putty and you tried to stretch it as far as you could as fast as you could? Do you remember tearing it in half that way? I do. But if you worked it slowly, pulling a piece here and tugging a piece there, before you knew it you had a big, flat, nearly translucent disc of silly putty bigger than your head. And it took some work to get all that flimsy ... whatever silly putty is made of back into its egg.
Unfortunately my skin isn't ever going back in the egg. Stretch marks, it seems, have no really effective treatment. Even worse, the deeper and more severe the stretch marks, the less effective the treatments get. I started this whole thing because I happened to see my bare tummy in the mirror and it is riddled with the suckers. Some are small, some are really long, and some look almost wrinkly because they've collapsed so much. Luckily, they are all really pale so unless you are standing right next to me or are intently looking for them you may miss them. Plus, it isn't as if I plan to show a whole heck of a lot of my bare skin to the general public anyway. I had dreams of maybe one day slimming down enough to contemplate a bikini. I've always wanted to wear one, but lacked the confidence when I was small enough to pull it off. I had enough sense to realize when I couldn't (which I wish some other women would gain but that is a whole different subject). Even now I have to settle with the fact that if I manage to get to a reasonable bikini size there will be the stretch marks to consider. As I see it I can view my stretch marks two ways. I could lament them and feel something close to horrified that my skin will never again be perfect OR I can be proud of them and rejoice because they represent a HUGE accomplishment. I choose pride and joy over shame and horror. So what if I'm streaky. I'll be a hot streaky mess, and proud of it! Perfection is boring anyway.