While scrolling through Instagram recently I came across a picture of English singer and songwriter Ella Eyre in a bikini on a seemingly hot day wearing a bright matching bikini set and I noticed some stretchmarks on her hip.
Out of general interest I went to view the rest of her page and spotted another picture where she is wearing another bikini with the light hitting her hip showing her stretchmarks once again. Both captions on the pictures had no mention of stretchmarks, or body positivity or any hashtag in the same vein.
This is why I found it encouraging:
Body positivity movements online have done a lot to increase the representation of diverse body types with all their 'imperfections' in mainstream media, but somewhere along the line people started telling women how they should feel about their bodies.
In this article boldly titled “Body Positivity Is a Scam”, Christina Animashaun says: “Body positivity in 2018 rushes right up to the line between aesthetics and politics but puts not one toe over it."
She says companies have been selling insecurity for years, making it difficult to just 'love yourself' as Anna Grebe, a researcher visual culture, disability studies, gender and queer studies, says in this video.
She raises two important points about the current ‘body positivity movement’: first she says “we claim normal bodies exist” and secondly, “we deny skinny people as well as fat people their mere existence within society”.
While this is not a critique of the body positive movement, there are parallels with its shortfalls with the point I’m trying to make.
Anna’s observations are similar to the instances where people who claim to be body positive respond to women's stretchmarks.
The fact is some people have stretchmarks and some don’t, but the body positive factions impose images of what ‘normal’ bodies look like, and to a certain extent they create a visual of what 'normal' stretchmarks should look like, denying people with a range of different kinds of stretchmarks and bodies the right to just be.
I got a sense of this in the Twitter posts of Chrissy Teigen.
First she posted a picture of her leg framing a glass on a table with this caption: “Whatevs”. Comments that followed included “impeccable”; “girl, you had a baby. I'd be more surprised if you didn't have them. Wear those marks proudly!”; “I have these too! Stretch marks are beautiful! They are battle scars”; and others.
Here's the tweet:
In a separate tweet from 2017, Ella Eyre said: “How cool are stretch marks? Looks like I been fighting tigers in my spare time [sic].”
It’s okay for Chrissy and Ella to like their stretchmarks, but surely it should be okay for people to not like their stretchmarks or to feel nothing about them as well if they want to. People should have the freedom to decide how they want to feel about their bodies.
We all have different bodies and different levels of insecurity with different aspects of our lives. For this reason I think people, especially women, should be given the room to decide what feelings they have with their bodies and for that to be enough.
Sign up to W24's newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our hot stories and giveaways.