March 11, 2010

Stretch Marks Don’t Discriminate

Even the supremely fit, athletic, former “Girl Next Door” is not immune to postnatal stretch marks and gooey belly flab.

The following video confirms the Internet speculation about Kendra’s recent post-baby-bikini photo shoot. Those pictures were most definitely retouched.

In the Us Magazine video featured here Kendra is shocked to find her figure unchanged weeks after the birth (girl, try a year after birth). The conversation goes like this:

“What the hell is this?” Wilkinson asks her husband, NFL star Hank Baskett, as she lifts up her suit top to reveal her stretch marks. “I want to look sexy for you again!”

After he tries to comfort in a what I think is a pretty half-hearted and half-assed attempt, she says, “I wouldn’t fuck me!”

Listen, I know this segment on her new reality show and video clip at Us Magazine is more about creating new tabloid drama, strains of body gossip and body snarking but I’m relieved to see this. I’m relieved in the same way I was relieved to hear Kourtney Kardashian call “bull shit” on her (supposedly) unauthorized and retouched post-baby pictures via OK! Magazine.

I am embarrassed to admit that I have had more body image issues in the last two years than ever before (and I have had some major body issues in my life). As soon as I started growing and showing at the end of my first trimester, I felt fat, ugly and subsequently depressed (oh, and pissed off).

It’s hard to admit. I’m a feminist. I teach Women’s Studies. I critique the media, examine body image and beauty ideals. I should have no body image issues what so ever.

But I have and I do.

I’m a product of this culture. I live in this culture. Even though I limit my level of mediation, I am media literate and conscious to the ways of the media and advertising, I am still swept up in the media current. And, what a strong current it is.

I had gotten my body image issues under control before I got pregnant and felt great for years. The pregnancy and the post-natal body threw me for a loop. Like Kendra, I’d never experienced a mushy body that felt so foreign to me. I’d never lived in a body that I felt I didn’t have control over. I had this romantic notion in my head that I’d be one of the bounce back success stories. Hey, I’m healthy, fit and eat well. No problem. I’ve got this.

Uh, hello 60 pounds and a c-section later. What the heck is this? Who is this?

I’m not saying Kendra or Kourtney are feminist media sheroes but I will admit that those morsels of honesty are helpful. I can only imagine how much pressure would have been taken off of me (and countless others) if messages like these were the norm instead of the countless stories proclaiming a complete weight loss of all baby fat a week after birth.


  1. Thanks for sharing how hard it is–even for a conscious consumer like yourself– to escape the intense scrutiny of the media’s messages. Your honesty is empowering and though your post-natal body may not have bounced back as quickly as you would have hoped, you still radiate beauty and confidence. Your blog works as a constant reminder to me that making conscious choices and decisions is really all it’s cracked up to be- thank you for being such an amazingly strong and beautiful example. I feel lucky to have you as a role model.

    Comment by Marley — March 29, 2010 @ 9:19 pm

  2. Great post! Nice to hear the real conversations, to have a perspective of how bodies look post-baby in reality, not just photoshopped images.

    Comment by Cynthia — April 2, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

  3. topical copper peptide and topical vitamin C can help reduce stretch marks.:’`

    Comment by Zara Robertson — May 5, 2010 @ 1:49 am

  4. I’m pregnant now and one morning my husband says, “you should really make sure you put that cocoa butter all the way on the sides.”

    I’m like “what?!?” and yes, sure enough, there were stretch marks radiatiing from my ribcage toward my belly, all the way around my front. It sort of looked like I got clawed by a tiger with about 40 toes, and each vertical mark was maybe 4 inches long. I went online that same day and bought the Dr Max Powers Stretch Mark Treatment, and applied it fatihfully several times a day to these new stretch marks for at least a week (now I remember only 2-3X/day). Now, about 4 weeks later, there is literally nothing there.

    I’m choosing to buy this Max Powers Stretch Mark cream since it seems like the best price per ounce, and if I notice new marks, I want to be well-armed to treat them as soon as possible. Dr Max Powers does say their product works best on new marks, and I can certainly vouch for its effectiveness in my case. I’ve also been continuing to use cocoa butter cream mixed with pure vitamin E oil from the healthfood store ($5 for a small vial). After a friend’s doctor warned her not to use Vitamin E oil after varicose vein surgery, as the scars would heal too rapidly, I’ve been a believer in its powers.

    Comment by M Fred — May 6, 2010 @ 6:52 pm

  5. I never realized how much child birth could change your body and have so much effect on your psyche until you actually have a baby. And then the media always has a way of bringing up our insecurities. BTW did you see that picture of Cindy Crawford and her stretch marks? It’s still circulating 3 years later! I think it makes us all feel that we’re not alone with this issue.

    Comment by Theresa — May 29, 2010 @ 10:50 pm

  6. I’ve been following your blog for 3 days now and i should say i am starting to like your post. and now how do i subscribe to your blog?


    Comment by Mark — July 22, 2010 @ 11:17 am

  7. Thank you for the great post. I feel the experience, because I am pregnant.

    Comment by Hilme — October 10, 2010 @ 4:27 pm

  8. […] makes me sad, sad because my beautiful son was growing inside of me. I’ve written about this subject a lot lately because it is maddening that women seem destined to carry their culturally induced […]

    Pingback by I’m Pregnant But I Just Feel Fat | elephant journal — February 8, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

  9. […] makes me sad, sad because my beautiful son was growing inside of me. I’ve written about this subject a lot lately because it is maddening that women seem destined to carry their culturally induced […]

    Pingback by I’m Pregnant but I Just Feel Fat | Adios Barbie — March 9, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

  10. Stretch marks are soooo insignificant. Get over yourself.

    Comment by Carol — May 14, 2012 @ 1:02 pm

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