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Beauty: Should stretch marks define beauty standards?

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“Your body has no stretch marks! Such perfection!”

This is a popular remark nowadays. We have arrived at the point where we idolize and idealize people who seem to deviate from normal human characteristics.

And although done from a place of good intentions, it hardly ever does not backfire on our view of ourselves and what we begin to consider as ideal.

Perhaps we might need some introspection to determine the beauty stereotypes we have internalized over time due to changing beauty ideals being represented in the media.

Perfection, especially in terms of beauty, forever remains unattainable. The concept of beauty itself is mutable. The existence of different cultures inevitably connotes different conventional beauty standards.

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And so, although we may bend, stay awake all night, visit the soothsayer (if we can), watch how-to videos, and pay for masterclasses all in a bid to meet up with the beauty standard vogue, we always have one undesirable flaw left unresolved.

We hiss and sigh; close our eyes to sleep only to be reminded of it in our dreams; read magazines with flawless front-cover pictures screaming for our attention (and most importantly, our envy); refuse to attend that Aso-Ebi function (although corona has us on lockdown momentarily) because we are still hitting the gym to get the body that will fit into that three-yards material we bought at the price of half a minimum wage.

It’s all part of the desire for attention in a world that evolves per second. And the craze itself is an offshoot of the concept that implies that our entire worth should be tied around our level of attractiveness.

Being attractive has its benefits, but where exactly do we draw the line? Perhaps to the point where our insecurities take a detour from its rented space in our minds to hop on an Instagram post as the comment: “No stretch marks! Goals!”

Splurging ourselves in ways that appeal to our guilty pleasures is not a crime in any constitution, and it will never be. The conversation being raised is not the one that attempts to guilt-trip our choices and decisions, especially as it relates to body, soul, and mind pampering.

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After all, our endearing, albeit young, music artists occasionally sing of the goodness embedded in the lush lifestyle. And if they, who make a living from our constant patronage of their art, can boldly express this sentiment in songs that make the countdowns: why should we, as financiers and consumers, not also have a taste of it?

It’s about the disregard for absolutely normal human characteristics such that not only do we deride others who don’t devote as much time to being obsessed with the perfect beauty standard but we also subject ourselves to a great deal of restlessness in a bid to attain – and if possible, surpass – these artificial standards foisted upon us as the key to happiness.

The illusion of perfection being sold to us exists to fund a growing industry that is sustained by the continuous desire to beat aspects of nature that are actually unavoidable. The effect of this is manifested in numerous ways, one of which is anxiety.

So, when the reply to the aforementioned comment goes thus: “Thank you, but I have stretch marks and I’m proud of them or I find them beautiful too”, it is viewed as being pivotal to the emancipation from the social pressure we continuously encounter throughout the course of our lives.

Average motivational materials might aim to totally abolish the trend without background analysis of individual experiences. And this black-or-white principle makes no room for grey areas that may include: early or childhood bullying, social standing advantage, and the general desire to look a certain way aided by the invention of smartphone filters.

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In view of these areas, the rather realistic approach is that of attempting to strike a balance between splurging on our physical appearance and refusing to allow our physical appearance to totally define us.

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