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Surfin’ Mama (Gia)

July 6, 2011

Age: 39
2 boys ages 5 years and 10 months
10 months post partum

I have a scar on my calf. It is thin and whitened with age, and every year that passes it fades just a little bit more. That makes me sad, because I love this scar. I loved it even more when it was new, thick, and hideously red. When people saw it, they were prompted to ask, “How’d you get that scar?” I would proudly say, “When I was first learning to surf.” Then I would tell them about how I paddled out on a day that I shouldn’t have. The waves were overhead, the rip current churning, the black flag thwacking in the wind, but I hopped on my board anyway. I paddled through the whitewash, duck-dove through the impact zone, and waited through several sets to gather the courage to drop into one of those ferocious waves. When I finally did, my timing was just a little bit off, and I went over-the-falls. For the non-surfers reading this, that’s when the wave drags you up and over, then comes crashing down on top of you, bashing you into the ocean floor, churning you relentlessly before spitting you out in the shallows. Somewhere in that murky washing machine, a fin on my board sliced through my leg. By the time I struggled back up to the beach, I was bleeding profusely, but I felt strangely exhilarated. I had conquered my fear. It’s a moment I will remember forever.

I don’t feel the same way about the scars on my belly. They are thin and whitened with age, and every year that passes I wish I could erase them completely. If there was a safe, easy, painless way to do it, I wouldn’t hesitate. But a tummy tuck seems extreme in my case, and adding a severe, hip to hip scar to get rid of a bunch of tiny ones, all so I can wear a bikini for three months out of the year, seems a little illogical. I’m not sure why I can’t embrace them like some of you. I love my kids, and stretch marks are a small price to pay, but I’m not emotionally attached to them in any way. I don’t think stretch marks make me stronger, more interesting, wiser, or more motherly. I don’t think that women who don’t get them are missing out on any sort of badge of honor or courage, “warrior stripes” as some call them. While I respect that others celebrate them, to me, they are not something I’ve earned. They’re just stretch marks.

When I was in my early twenties, I had a roommate who would spend hours examining herself in a magnifying mirror. She would pluck and poke at imaginary flaws in her perfect porcelain skin. When I would ask her what the hell she was doing she would respond, “Can’t you see that?” I tried to explain to her that no one views her through a magnifying glass. No one stands that close, so it’s pointless to look at yourself that way. This didn’t console her, and she would turn back to her mirror and start picking again.

It occurred to me the other morning, when I was standing at the mirror, staring at my belly in the unforgiving morning light, that I also look at myself in the wrong way. People do not just see one part of me, they see the overall shape. They do not stare at my stomach, my nose, my feet (okay, my husband stares at my ass, but you get my point). So I took five steps back and really just looked at the overall package, the way a stranger would look at me. An amazing thing happened. The stretch marks disappeared, and I saw what I am. An athlete. Broad shoulders, muscular arms, toned legs. I saw a healthy, active mother. So whether you’re athletic, curvy, or thin, embrace your overall shape. Forget the cellulite, the wrinkled skin, the moles, the stretch marks. You’re the only one looking at them, in the right light, at the right distance, in the exact position, that amplifies their significance. Then jump into the future for just a moment, and ask your 80 year-old self how she feels about the body you have right now, stretch marks, sagging belly skin and all. You’ll be shocked at the response. You know what mine said? “I just wish I could still paddle out and surf.”
Picts taken today

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11 Responses to “Surfin’ Mama (Gia)”

  1. Mary V Says:
    July 6th, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Lovely post, and I love that you added “jump into the future…” Its so true! You have a great shape and a wonderful outlook on being a woman!

  2. Dee Says:
    July 6th, 2011 at 8:37 am

    I love your realization. I had the same one not too long ago. And I also feel the same way about not having any attachment to my stretchmarks, but I do think it adds uniqueness to my body and I can appreciate that.

    I don’t see stretchmarks. I see a big, genuine smile, Perfectt ass (So Jealous. Lol) and thighs, strong arms. Just an overall beautiful woman. What are you talking about not wearing a bikini? Girl, if I were you, I’d go buy one right now, bring my kids to the beach and show off my body to everyone. You deserve it! :)

  3. Karla Says:
    July 6th, 2011 at 10:25 am

    love your post! you look great…but most importantly your outlook is wonderful!

  4. Mina Says:
    July 6th, 2011 at 11:49 am

    I love this post. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Kayla Says:
    July 6th, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Wonderful post!

    BTW- You should be just as proud of your stretch marks as you are of your scar from surfing. Pregnancy and birth are one of the hardest things on the human body. What a wonderful and beautiful thing your body has done, whether it is surfing or carrying and giving birth to beautiful baby boys.

  6. Michelle Says:
    July 6th, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I love this. In your closing paragraph, you ask the reader to jump ahead to ask her 80 year old self how she would feel about her body today. It made me realize that I could apply the same concept to my life in general, what I would wish for myself looking back. Thanks. You helped me today. :)

  7. Chelsea Says:
    July 8th, 2011 at 7:30 am

    I think it’s great that you came to that realisation because frankly that is what everyone else see’s when they look at you.
    I pray for the day I can look like you do now, unfortunatly I don’t see that in my future.
    You should feel very lucky to have your body.
    In that last picture you can see how proud you are of your body, I would kill for that feeling.

  8. Lina Says:
    July 12th, 2011 at 1:14 am

    When reading your post i could really identify myself with you so much. I also don’t see any pride in my stretch marks and wish they weren’t there but thats life and although i stand there every morning in the “best” light to see the Marks…you are so damn right! We should see ourselves as a whole and not only one tiny part of our bodies. I haven’t met any moms with stretch marks in real life and i feel i am the only one but SOAM helps me sooo much. You look wonderful and have such a strong and positiv personality. Keep it and thanks for your inspiring words. My daughter is now 15 months and i would love to have a liitle baby again but i am sooo scared of the results after. I am very body concious and wouldn’t like to make everything worse after a 2nd pregnancy. Its a very difficult decision for me. And yes surgery is so illogical. A big scar just to wear a bikini once a year ;-)

  9. M. Says:
    July 12th, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I don’t see my stretch marks and c-sections scars as badges of honor or whatever either. For me, they’re memory marks, and that works for me. I don’t try to get rid of them because of the story they tell, and the things I remember when I see them.

  10. L Says:
    July 12th, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    Thanks for posting I still don’t embrace them but they are on me and not.coming off. My husband told me the same thing he said you spend so much time looking down at your tummy why don’t you look up and see the whole you.. it really stuck with me. I’ve been trying to do that lately. Your post reminded me of that. The only woman I know who is 80 is just trying to survive cancer and illness and she has stretchmarks and I doubt that has been a thought in her mind for decades.. we need to stop being so hard on ourselves

  11. Alicia Says:
    August 19th, 2011 at 8:26 am

    You have a fantastic point of view. Thanks so much for sharing it with us!

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