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For decades, the body positivity movement has helped promote size inclusion in the public space while encouraging individuals to reclaim a healthy relationship with their bodies. Like all movements, there exists a spectrum that includes everything from fat activism social justice, to representation and normalization through social media.
As the concept of body positivity permeated mainstream culture, many people began to feel isolated by the idea of a one size fits all approach to self-love. What if you don’t always love your body? What if you can’t just learn to “embrace your flaws”?
Enter body neutrality: an alternative to the idea that instead of being in a constant state of acceptance, or learning to love our bodies we can simply recognize that no matter their state, our bodies have value. Body neutrality posits that the quest to feel “beautiful” is the product of a harmful cultural obsession with beauty aims to remove (or neutralize) that obsessions power over our feeling towards ourselves.
One of the people using social media to document her body neutral relationship with herself is Liz Peck. The Nebraska-based social media blogger shares candid glimpses into her changing relationship with her body through a body neutral lens that are both honest and vulnerable.
In a recent post, Peck opened up about her evolving views of her body, particularly stretch marks. In the body positive space, stretch marks can sometimes be nicknamed “glitter stripes” or “tiger stripes” to reclaim what have been long perceived as “imperfections” as badges of honour. While social media and body positivity have normalized their appearance, the movement implies that people must arrive at a place where they’re proud to show them off or find them beautiful.
In her post, Peck shared two identical photos of her stomach bearing stretch marks to followers. In the first photo, peck “tagged” explanations like, “I had kids,” “weight gain” and “medication” as the reasons for her stretch marks. In the second photo, she simply tagged, “needs no excuses.”
“For as long as I can remember I have had stretch marks, I didn't think anything of them until it came up in conversation as a teenager with other girls. I had them everywhere,” she wrote. From my boobs to my stomach to my legs.”
According to Peck, while growing up she felt the need to make an “excuse” for her stretch marks.
“I would say things like, ‘well my boobs are big so of course they have stretch marks, my legs are so long they cant even keep up with my skin... .’”
Peck added that the baby books she read all discussed how to prevent stretch marks, inferring they were an unwanted side effect of pregnancy. Peck wrote that even her husband, Cody, thought she would be fearful of developing stretch marks, and offered to rub lotion on her stomach — even though she knew they would be there, anyway.
“Now my body is in another new face of shrinking and growing and figuring its self out,” Peck continued, referencing her recent weight loss. “But what I learn from all of these phases of living in my skin, is I don't need an excuse for every mark. Because my body is doing what it’s supposed to be doing, stretching, growing, shrinking, and figuring itself out.”
Peck offered an alternative to feeling the pressure to “love” your stretch marks or justify their existence to yourself and the rest of the world.
“They are human, you don’t have to love them, but you don’t need to hate them,” she wrote. “We might not have the same amount, but we all have them, and you don’t need to give an excuse as to why you have them.”