Rethinking Stretch Marks—Our Mom Tattoos


When Beyonce’s bootylicous body bounced back four months after giving birth to Blue Ivy, many moms around the world sucked in their stomachs and pushed up their breasts.  Although some of my mommy friends cheered on Bey’s rapid weight loss, several admitted that the superstar’s postpartum success added extra pressure to shed their extra pounds.

My friends and I played the numbers game and revealed how our weight fluctuated from pre- to post-pregnancy. We prayed that our magic numbers would once again flash on our scales and we shared ancient secrets to weight loss. One woman took a water aerobics class and substituted salads for…well, almost everything.  Another strapped on her baby and hit the pavement, speed walking through her neighborhood. I told the group how breastfeeding was my new Slim Fast. It was easier than going to the gym, and I never sweated out my hair or spent money on a membership like I did in my before-baby days. But you can’t nurse forever. I did it for ten months—but had no plans of appearing of the cover of Time Magazine feeding a talking toddler.

Then, I interrupted our pity party.  I told my friends not to try competing with a woman who has a team whose full-time job is to make her look good. (If we had hair stylists, nail technicians, makeup artists, wardrobe assistants, nutritionists, and trainers, we would look like Miss Universe in the carpool lane and at the baby gym!) Instead of comparing ourselves to a fantasy, we should stretch our definitions of beauty (to include bigger bellies and even stretch marks!). I told them how I’m more comfortable in my skin today than I was 15 years ago frolicking in a bikini on the beaches of Montego Bay during Spring Break.

Often, I bare my soul to my friends. That day, I decided to take it a step further—I bared my belly. I lifted up my shirt and showed them my stretch marks. When I was pregnant, I managed to go nine months without a mark.  I gained 35 pounds total, mostly during the third trimester.  Like my mother when she carried me, you couldn’t tell I was pregnant until I was six months in.  My stomach was stretch mark free, thanks to a bedtime ritual of slathering on belly butter rich in Vitamin E.  On the day my daughter was due, my stomach was still smooth as a baby’s bottom.  But Baby C decided not to make her grand entrance into the world when she was supposed to.  Two weeks went by…no contractions. But I did feel something squiggly on my stomach.

I ran to a mirror. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Say it’s not so! I said to myself as I stared into the mirror, mad. Yes, stretch marks.

Then I willed myself to look beyond the stretch marks on my stomach and to realize that the baby inside my belly was well worth a few flaws. I reminded myself that no one had seen my stomach, other than Baby’s C’s father, in over ten years.  It had been that long since I did Montego Bay with my sorority sisters. (Oh, the memories!)

As I thought some more about my new body, I had a beautiful revelation: I was more comfortable in my skin 50 pounds heavier and pregnant than I was sipping pina coladas and flirting with brown boys. While I didn’t suffer from low self-esteem in my twenties, I do recall spending more than an hour getting ready to go out—hey, our looks got us into the VIP sections at the clubs and countless other freebies.

More than a decade later, I was in love with my body, stretch marks and all. I felt grown up for the first time in my life.  I was responsible for another human being!  My pregnancy connected me to my grandmothers, my mom, my sister, my aunts, and my cousins.  It inducted me into their secret society of motherhood—a place where you can get into the VIP without being a size six!

In a sense, stretch marks stretched my definition of beauty. Now, don’t get me wrong—I would rather have my smooth stomach and, while we’re at it, a six-pack would be nice. I’m just not ashamed to let my stretch marks show.

So let’s turn a negative into a positive.  Embrace your body and redefine what you think is beautiful from the inside out.  Count your blessings, not your burdens.  How many metaphors (or similes, if that’s more your thing) can you create about your stretch marks?  Here are a few to get your mind moving and your confidence increasing:

Stretch Marks are…Love Marks.

Stretch Marks are…Battle Scars.

Stretch Marks are…Mom Tattoos.

Stretch Marks are…Silent Reminders of My Miracle.

Not long ago, Heather Hopson was an award-winning television host in the Cayman Islands.  Today, she’s writing a different kind of story as a new mom at and


1. The Fatkini and Gabi Fresh: On Having A Real Belly and Being Real Fly
2. Beyonce’s Post Baby Body is Round and Curvy —Just like We Husbands Like Them
3. Photos Of Mariah Carey’s New Post-Baby Body! Let’s All Feel Craptastic We STILL Have Our Baby Weight!
4. The #Flawless12 Project (Day 1): Learning To Love What I Look Like In the Morning

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.


  1. Great perspective! My stretch mark always remind me of the three miracles that I grew in my belly. I’m not ashamed of them at all. Now, my stretch marks in other places – those I don’t like so much. LOL! 🙂

  2. I love this article! I too have stretch marks on my belly, not from having a baby but from when I was much heavier. Reading this gave me a feeling of confidence and encourages me to embrace my “love marks” and “battle scars” as they serve as a constant reminder of my biggest accomplishment in my 20’s! 🙂 Keep the articles coming!!

  3. I loved this article. I can’t tell you how many times I try to tell my friends that celebrities have teams and surgeons to keep them beautiful. If I had team “sexy” behind me I too would look like Beyonce. It’s just not realistic for the average women. I embrace my strech marks and like Heather I am definitly happier with the weight gain. For the record i am a size 12 now I use to be a size 4/6. But ad Katt Williams said “either you were big and got little or you were little and got big either way MEN WILL STILL WANT YOU!!! Confidence and Grace in all sizes!!! xoxo

  4. Stretch marks and skin that smiles back at me…..54 is all good, because each mark and smile reminds me of the journey I have been on and now, spiritually more fulfilled and not sweating the small stuff.

  5. Great article! I hope to have babies one day, so this is a good reminder to keep things in perspective. Being able to bring life into this world is such a blessing, so when I think about it like that…stretch marks is soo trivial. Besides, I already have them…just in other areas (lol)!

  6. During my last pregnancy I could not have lived without the Stretch Mark Cream from Apothederm
    It was very effective for my past stretch marks and the new marks I got. I would recommend it!

  7. LaTesha Murray

    I love this…. It’s a very common topic and we all have talked it with those we feel are close to us. It’s time we venture out and feel more comfortable in our skin. Life changes, we all change and need to accept our changes. I had 2 pregnancies and the last was with twins; 2 boys; 1 was 5lbs-6oz and the other 7lbs-12oz. I was strectched to capacity and still have a pouch and marks almost 8 years later. I love my kids and love myself, but somewhat still self conscious of my belly being seen. I want to work on my belly but also on accepting my changes. Thanks for bringing this back to the front of my mind, because I have been focusing on my belly recently. Celebrating 35th bday this year and planned on having a flat belly and fewer marks. Along with raising kids and working, workouts and creams seemed to be hardwork to keep up with.

  8. I am not a mom. But I definately think women have to stop comparing ourselves to celebrities and even to each other. We are all unique and beautiful in different ways.

  9. You know Beyonce may have stretch marks. All of those celebrities have professionals photo shop all of their pictures. You shouldn’t look to celebrities for how you esteem your own body.

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