Some of you might have the pleasure of watching me talk shite on Instagram stories on a regular basis, others of you might believe you have more important things to do with your lives (you’re wrong). Those of you that do may have seen my little rant about creams and oils aimed at pregnant bellies, and the negative marketing that they use. Well I’m still going on about it because, honestly, it really got me fired up.
A couple of months ago me and Matt hit up the Baby Show to check out the discounts, see how much free stuff we could blag, question who buys a bedazzled car seat, and ultimately spend a grand on baby paraphernalia (and burgers). One of the freebies we were given was a tester size of Mama Mio Tummy Rub Butter, my skin has been super dry and I have been worried I may soon resemble a piece of beef jerky so something that promises to help with this (and for free) was a bonus. I gave it a go over the next few days and really liked how it made my skin feel, it absorbed better than the oils I had been using and actually left my skin feeling nourished and the itchy dryness that I’d just been putting up with since my bump really started to show had gone – bloody result!
So I did what all of us would do, I took my 20% discount code and ordered me some more of that Tummy Butter!
Except when it arrived the excitement over the product dwindled instantly the second I opened the packaging. Facing me, in neon pink, were the words ‘Say NO to stretch marks’…
Stretch marks ruined my first pregnancy, I was ashamed of my bump covered in red marks. I didn’t look like the pregnant women you see in magazines and I was convinced that was wrong. I covered myself in every cream and oil on the market to try and prevent them, but nothing worked. I didn’t get to ‘say NO to stretch marks’.
The thing I didn’t know or accept at the time is that some of us are just genetically more likely to get stretch marks. Those of us whose thighs have been decorated with silvery lines since we were sixteen, or who have the same marks across our boobs from when they appeared overnight. Those of us whose mums’ stomachs came out of pregnancy showing the same battle scars. We don’t get to ‘say NO to stretch marks’.
I have spent the past six years hating my stomach, hating the way my body could never go back to the body it was before, no matter how much weight I lost or how toned I made it, because I was covered in scars that would never fade completely. I don’t wear a bikini unless it’s high-waisted. It’s affected my sex life. It’s triggered many mental health issues. Because stretch marks are bad. They’re something we should say NO to.
It’s only very recently I’ve felt comfortable in my stretch-marked skin, I still won’t wear a bikini or show my stomach in public, but I don’t feel the need to hide it in the changing rooms. I don’t feel the need to try and cover my stomach when having sex. I don’t stand staring in the mirror, grabbing at my stretched skin and wishing I could rip it off my body so much anymore. That has taken over six years, and the things that helped me get there were body positive, confident, incredible women I’ve been lucky enough to connect with online and in real life. My boyfriend who never even noticed they were there until I felt the need to point out how ugly they are (‘shut, up, Mia!’). Myself, accepting that these things are genetic and sometimes they just bloody happen. Seeing a bright pink message telling me I was wrong to stop feeling awful about them came very close to setting me back over half a decade.
No, I wasn’t proud of my stretch marks, I didn’t see them as tiger stripes, I didn’t see them as marks of my bodies incredible feat. I was twenty years old and I saw my body as being completely destroyed, why? Because of marketing techniques like this. Because we are told over and over again that they are something to be ashamed of. That they are something to say ‘NO‘ to.
I’ve been really wary about posting this, getting on the wrong side of a huge brand aimed at parents probably isn’t the best idea when trying to build a parenting blog. But I knew I couldn’t keep quiet on this one, I say that I’m honest about things that matter to me so here I am being honest about something that matters to me.
The thing is, I love the product, I would love to be able to be posting a rave about it right now. But having that neon pink body-shaming face me the second I opened the package has totally taken away the buzz for me.
Beauty companies have a lot to answer for; people are pushing for more inclusive models, less photoshopping, real people who will be lining the pockets of the creators. It’s being called for over and over again and the changes that are already happening (very slowly) make me feel great for our daughters. Hopefully they’ll become teenagers in a world that doesn’t see difference as a flaw, that doesn’t see the natural signs of growing as being something to hide and be ashamed of.
Companies need to take a look at the way they’re marketing their products and accept their responsibilities for the affects they can have. A great product loses its allure if its combined with a slogan that makes you feel like shit, essentially.
Given that Mama Mio seem to use their social media to attempt to spread positivity and acceptance throughout pregnancy with their social media posts (as below) it seems strange to me that this is the message they chose to lead with.
Mama Mio would be the product I’d be recommending to every pregnant woman I know, but I won’t be, because I would hate for anybody else to feel that sinking, sickening feeling when excitedly opening a box.
My bump isn’t perfect (it’s too small according to a lot of Instagram…). My body isn’t perfect. But what it’s doing is something fucking incredible, and for that alone it too is incredible.
My stretch marks weren’t something I could say ‘no‘ to.
Don’t make me feel like I’m worth less for that.