By Lineo ‘Feline Spirit’ Segoete/ @Lineothefeline
My mother was walking behind me one morning when she said, “Get some tissue oil for those stretch-marks on your legs”. I was taken aback, but I responded: “Mom I’m fine as I am.”
I love what I call my stripes.
They remind me I’m a mother. I am no longer a girl. They also remind me I’m not perfect, meaning I’m as perfect as I can possibly be in this body and my beauty cannot be contested.
Every time I look at my stripes I remember to never take myself too seriously, that I have other things I can obsess over aside from vanity. Inversely, they keep me aware of myself, teaching me to appreciate the body I’m in, the journey I’ve had thus far and the great times I often enjoy.
My mother meant well, she wants her girls to ALWAYS be looking on point and get the best out of life.
However what I have never told her is that I was extremely self-conscious after my daughter was born.
My breasts were no longer up-right and perky, I got stretch-marks on my thighs, lower belly and calves and I was left with a C-section scar. Initially, I went the whole tissue-oil route, wearing clothing that concealed my insecurity.
I ignored that I still had a flat belly post-childbirth, that I reverted to my original weight and that my breasts had changed, but didn’t sag.
For the first year and two months of her life, I nurtured my daughter as a stay-at-home mother and that time spent is what motivated my change in attitude. We were alone majority of the time; moments I spent in deep meditation watching that little miracle develop into a human being.
I kept a journal and played music for her as I wrote.
I would get overwhelmed with peace watching her suckle, her holding onto my breast for dear life and flashing smiles of contentment as if they were the meaning of life. I would stare at her sleeping and catch her smiling or flat-out giggling, a habit she still has seven years later.
Those little observations served as epiphanies to me. There is more to life, soul things that cannot be qualified by words.
How I viewed myself as a mother far out-weighed how the world embraced or rejected me. My confidence returned.
I still had to grow into womanhood though, and it was a challenge becoming my type of woman rather than the one society expected. It was bad enough already that I was unmarried and getting judged for it everywhere I went.
For a few years I conformed, inhibiting my personality and wearing the mask that made me more acceptable to strangers. I won over some and others made me feel like shit regardless. I internalized how feeble the mask was because I could not please everyone and it also sunk in that the person I am did not die because I became a mother.
My child’s perception of me was all I had to care about.
As I took ownership of my personality more intently, the more my baby flourished. It hit me later that that is what being a woman was about; being true to myself and abiding by my values and not those set for me.
Being a woman meant going on dates with my flaws, getting to know my weakness and making love to my physical imperfections. It meant knowing that I am no good to my child if I am no good to myself and the best way to be honest to myself was by being open. Expressing myself openly through my art, my clothing and the relationship I have with my mind, spirituality and body are of the essence because my fulfillment is directly correlated to my ability as a mother.
I never forget that my stretch-marks –my stripes- are my honours. They are nature’s way of saying, “hey, you’ve come a long way”. And to me, they make me more beautiful because I know I am not a porcelain doll nor a vain girl stuck in a woman’s body.