Or: So, if I don’t have kids, I should be ashamed of my stretch marks?
There’s a quote that floats around Facebook that has always bothered me, and for the longest time I couldn’t figure out exactly why. This is the quote:
The last couple of days though, it hit me. It talks about having earned her stripes, like through pregnancy. And pretty much every time that I’ve seen this shared it’s always accompanied by something being said about how women should be proud of the “tiger stripes” they earned while they were carried another human being inside of them. Or women talking about how they earned their stretch marks through carrying all of their beautiful children and that they are so proud of that and that they wear them as a badge of honor.
I’m all for women feeling better about their bodies, and I have nothing against women being proud of being a mother.
What bothers me about this quote is how it makes me feel as woman who has never had kids and yet has stretch marks. Because what’s implied in this quote is that if my stretch marks weren’t earned via pregnancy I should be ashamed of them and that I am less of a woman because I am not a mother. I do not feel like I am meant to be included with the women who are supposed to feel better about their stretch marks. Because having earned my stretch marks through weight gain and loss is not something that is exactly celebrated in society.
I feel like this is kind of like the “real women have curves” type things that have been going around, and that I have myself shared in the past. I recently realized that if an “inspirational quote” is attempting to make one group of people feel better about themselves while shaming another group of people, it’s plain and simple bullying. I have stopped sharing things that might make other people feel worse about themselves because they don’t fit into what was described.
It feels like there’s a competition as to who is a “real woman”. There’s no reason why it should be a competition. What should it matter if a woman has given birth or not? If you identify as a woman, then you are a woman. No matter what shape or size you are. Or what gender it might say on your birth certificate for that matter. You don’t have to look a certain way or be a mother to be a “real woman”.