Every body is beautiful. Including mine.
I first noticed my stretch marks when I was about eleven or twelve.
While going to the bathroom I looked down at my thighs and noticed these bright red tracks on the insides of my thighs.
Panicked, I went outside and showed my mom. Earlier that year I had started seeing a nutritionist, going to the gym, and counting calories.
She looked at the stretch marks and then said, "Well, you know the stuff the nutritionist talked about, you just have to keep doing that." She said it kindly, but with a rueful look on her face.
I was devastated.
These were marks of my fatness that were never going away. I was mortified, I couldn't ever imagine wearing shorts again. I didn't want anyone to see how my fondness for food was ruining my body.
Now, decades later, those bright red stretch marks have faded to fine, silvery white lines and I know better than I did when I was younger.
The stretch marks that cover my belly and my thighs and my upper arms aren't anything to be ashamed of, they are perfect etchings of a life well-lived. And now I know that a lot of people have them, regardless of their weight.
You know what causes stretch marks? Rapid growth. Rapid weight gain can cause them too, but if you're in the thick of puberty and suddenly find yourself covered in stretch marks, it's probably because your body is changing at an incredible speed.
My stretch marks are a reminder of just how quickly I went from being a little girl to a hormone-filled pubescent woman beast.
My cat adores me, tummy stretch marks and all.
I came to understand my cellulite the same way.
Cellulite is fat under the skin that becomes more visible with age. When I first started spotting it on my own body, I was horrified. I was too young to have a cottage cheese butt!
Learning to love my cellulite wasn't as easy a process as learning to love my stretch marks.
It's hard to rationalize something as concrete as proof of your passion for food and the fact that you're getting older.
So I tried doing something else. I tried associating a memory with each pocket of fat that made me feel insecure. That one was the Italian restaurant in Boston I went to with my parents for my fourteenth birthday. That one was the roll of cookie dough I shared with my best friends giggling in a dorm room.
My body has done so much for me. It's protected me when I've fallen down. It's gotten me places where only feet can trek. It's kept me healthy and strong when I felt like falling apart inside. Above all, it has always kept going no matter what obstacles have been put in its path.
In many respects, my body is my hero.
It's had no one rooting for it and it's triumphed all the same. Its had my mother worrying about its size, its had the sneers of other women, its been victimized, poked, mocked, and rejected.
More than that, it's had my own self-hatred, my own loathing, my own insecurity in the very skin where I live.
But it's still here, it's still fighting, it's still doing what it was made to do, and that is truly stupendous.