OctoMom is back at it – not making babies but riling up American women. The shots of her in a bikini have been everywhere for the last week and a half, and the conspiracy theories are flying.
But here’s one thing no one can make up: Nadya Suleman says she didn’t have surgery. But the violent stretchmarks on photos she released to the media in 2009 have miraculously disappeared. If not one scientist in the world has figured out how to make stretchmarks naturally disappear, how did OctoMom make it happen?
It would seem to come down to two major options: either she had the surgery she claims she never had or Star Magazine took massive liberties with its Photoshop capabilities. We can’t say which, we can’t accuse either (although plenty of others out there have – there are entire sites now devoted to uncovering the supposed clues to Photoshopping on the pictures – including that mysterious slit of a belly button).
However, the mystery of why any woman wont’t admit to her stretchmarks stands. Study after study has determined they’re naturally occurring and there’s little we ladies can do about it. The daily swabbing of cocoa butter? Debunked. The role of genetics and race in their development? A sad but true fact.
If your mom had stretchmarks and you’re planning to become a mother, your stomach will likely be ravaged by red marks. The ante increases if you’re a woman of color.
And the cruel trick of nature – while pregnancy is a nine-month ordeal, stretchmarks will last decades beyond that. And it doesn’t matter how old you are. I was in my mid-twenties when I gave birth, and despite the assurance that young, supple skin has such elasticity it will bounce back four and a half years on I’ve accepted that I will never wear a bikini. Ever. The stretchmarks remain vivid, the skin loose even when I’m down to a neat and trim size six. Take a look at my mother and you’ll see why – she carries the marks of me and my brother into her fifties. They look kind of like these:
So why lie Nadya?
Laying it out on the table, I’m no fan of Kate Gosselin. But the mother of eight has been open and honest about a tummy tuck meant to repair the damage having six children did to her body. Hate her all you wish for her other choices, but as a mother of one who has been told there is simply no way to rid myself of the loose skin, if any plastic surgeons out there decided a Strollerdery blogger was a candidate for a free tummy repair, I’d be jumping on that boat too.
I avert my own eyes from the still red and rippled area of my body. I’m uncomfortable looking at them, but I’ve compared my battle scars with some of the other ladies out there who remain victims of violent skin upheaval years on and we are a lot more common than the OctoMoms of the world are willing to point out.
Stretch marks will fade. But they don’t disappear in a year. Ask the guy whose arms still show the raw red marks of weighlifting ten years on. The mother whose body has returned to a trim four but still hides her tummy under a t-shirt mid-summer.
We can hate them. We can mourn our old bodies. But pretending they don’t exist isn’t going to make them disappear – unless you’re Nadya Suleman.
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