Is The Fashion Industry Finally Starting To Embrace Stretch Marks?

by Erika W. Smith

Stretch marks: Almost everybody has them, but thanks to Photoshop, we so rarely see them. (At least in media.)

In the past week, model Barbie Ferreira and plus-size retailer Lane Bryant both spoke out for stretch marks.

Lane Bryant quietly released an Instagram image starring plus-size model Denise Bidot looking gorgeous in a bikini. The image was un-Photoshopped and showed stretch marks on Bidot’s stomach. As the Huffington Post points out, the photo’s caption didn’t mention the stretch marks, but commenters certainly noticed — and (mostly) approved.

On her own Instagram, Bidot wrote, “Loving this new image and how real it is. Thank you @lanebryant for loving my body, stretch marks and all.”

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Model Barbie Ferreira also shared two Instagram posts about stretch marks this week — showing how far the fashion industry has to go. Ferreira, who at 19 is quickly becoming one of the top plus-size models, and top models, period, shared two photos: one celebrating her own stretch marks, and another, a few hours later, sharing how she’d lost a major job because of them.

“mi lil stripes are out here. soothing them with vitamin e oil n noticing how cute my body can be despite lil changes !!!” she wrote in the first post.

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In the second post, she shared a screenshot of a Teen Vogue post about the photo and wrote:

Thank you @teenvogue for this write up. After I posted the picture of my stretch marks, not even a few hours later I was stood naked at work in front of strangers (super vulnerable position) and got asked what was wrong with my hips.. Pointing at my stretch marks. By a woman. Id be lying through my teeth if I didn’t say micro-aggressions like this don’t happen on the daily for me in this industry. And like I always do, I choke back the tears and keep going like nothing happened. Grown ass adults commenting on my teenage body needing spanx, bra cutlets to make me look “better” or Photoshopping my body to be “smoother” right in front of me- most of the time by plus clients. This industry is not cute, never has been. I don’t want to sell you this idea that all these brands are so body positive when it’s so few that actually represent what women look like not just an idealized version of a thick girl (like they try to do to me.) girls are not treated like people in this industry !! At all !! If you think my abuse is bad, ask a runway model who went from a 34 to a 35 inch hip.. They will tell you they flat out get told to starve and that they’re looking fat. Shit isn’t as pretty as it looks but.. I’m here to infiltrate from the inside. I truly don’t know how much we can do as curvy models when we’re still thought of as mannequins- just ones who are cursed to only wear peplums and tunics all day to cover our “flawed” bodies n show just our usually thin faces. Anyway, just wanted to rant because I am so privileged to be here but the flaws in this world make me feel like absolute garbage at the sake of getting paid and trying to spread my message. Not only the consumer is being told they’re not good enough- even the girls in the pictures are given the same shit. But y’all got me trapped cuz I need to make a living and enjoy tf out of representing curvy girls all over !!! Jokes on me.

We’re glad that certain models and brands are advocating for stretch mark acceptance — but there’s a long way to go before they’re mainstream. Stretch marks aren’t harmful and appear when the skin stretches during puberty or pregnancy. About 90% of pregnant women, 70% of teen girls, and 40% of teen boys develop stretch marks. The Mayo Clinic lists “Being female” as the #1 risk factor for stretch marks!

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But as the Cut points out, a culture of hating stretch marks has existed for centuries. It’s going to take a long time to dismantle the hatred of stretch marks, but it’s a battle worth fighting.

More from BUST

Watch These Girls Take On Body Hair Stigma And Self-Love In This Inspiring Video

Why The Plus Size Fashion Industry Needs A Major Overhaul

Surfing And The Myth Of The Bikini Body

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