identity politics

In Praise of Femmes: Stretchmarks

Stretchmarks are one of the most gorgeous features of the body.

I like scars and beauty marks too – all tell the history of where the body has been, what it has been through. These are not things we are born with, but things that are painted upon the naked canvas of us as we grow and change and develop and blossom.

I love skin. Who doesn’t? The body’s largest organ, home of countless nerve endings, housing the sensations we all crave, touching and being touched, sensations from sandpaper to silk, from friction to feathers.

On women’s bodies, we tend to get them in delicate stretched lines around the edges of our breasts, and over our hips. Two of my favorite places to grip and take palm-fulls of flesh for stability and movement, two of the most sensitive curves of the body, ripe and ready to be directed, pushed, persuaded, maneuvered.

Stretchmarks record the pulling of skin over muscle and bone, remembering the change in the curve of the body. Oh, that is so beautiful. Sometimes I can feel these tiny indentations in skin where the turgidity changes, just a small ridge to the fingertip where there is a slightly lighter pigmentation to the eye.

They so often follow the curves of the body more intricately, more delicately, more beautifully than any tattoo or cutting, because the body itself made them.

Sometimes they run in such gorgeous lines [original here] around a curve that they look like the mouth of a river, they look like a tributary, stunning, the way a river hugs the earth, the way the skin stretches around bone, around sinew and muscle, around experience, around knowledge, around growth.

Published by Sinclair Sexsmith

Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is "the best-known butch erotica writer whose kinky, groundbreaking stories have turned on countless queers" (AfterEllen), who "is in all the books, wins all the awards, speaks at all the panels and readings, knows all the stuff, and writes for all the places" (Autostraddle). ​Their short story collection, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, was a 2016 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and they are the current editor of the Best Lesbian Erotica series. They identify as a white non-binary butch dominant, a survivor, and an introvert, and they live outside Seattle as an uninvited settler on traditional, ancestral, & unceded Snoqualmie land.

28 thoughts on “In Praise of Femmes: Stretchmarks”

  1. Jan says:

    Dangerous subject, isn't it, Sinclair? Thinking about skin, women's skin……

  2. Clare says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. I also love the stretchmarks left by pregnancy, how they were not only formed by the body, but by the creature inside the body.

  3. rascalgrrl says:

    I decided about a year ago to have nude photographs taken by a photographer that specialized in bodyscapes–super close-ups that make the body look like land forms. My stretch marks got more attention than they ever have…since watching them grow when I was pregnant, anyway. It was liberating to finally embrace what is not often visible or given cause to be accepted or celebrated.

    Thank you for this wonderful perspective.

  4. Essin' Em says:

    And this is just one more reason I love reading your blog; you make me love my body even more :)

  5. Dev says:

    This post really moved me and made me feel good.

  6. Paidion says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I am a huge fan of my wife's stretch marks. We were on the beach one day and these gorgeous girls were walking by and we were both gawking and she told me she wished she didn't have stretch marks anymore. I looked at her shocked and said "Hon, they show you have history. They indicate that you are a woman rather than a girl." Yum….gimme a woman any day :)


  7. rob says:

    I love the way you said that. :-)

    "more beautifully than any tattoo or cutting, because the body itself made them."


  8. cyn says:

    I've never thought of my stretch marks as anything but ugly. I love the idea that they tell my body's history, thank you.

  9. riotgrrrl says:

    thank you…

  10. Marcello says:

    I have some stretch marks, and I have always hated them until I read this post ~ beautiful.

    I am trying to apply this same philosophy to my quickly invading silver hairs.


  11. I grew up hating the strech marks that arose on my body – wishing they'd fade, disappear, not be present.

    Nowadays I don't really think about them. They're just part of me. Thank you for bringing my attention to a part of my body that is as deserving of love and attention as the rest.

    xx Dee

  12. Reading this felt as if i had been given a wonderful gift. I have an ocean of marks – scars and freckles and some silvery trails – but i am slowly accepting them. This has helped enormously; thank you.

  13. hussyred says:

    this is so gorgeously written. i'm a new reader (as of today!) and while i admit to only having read mostly your erotica in the past hour or so, i have to say that you write in this way that is both exceptionally descriptive and, simultaneously, exquisitely eloquent. no doubt your posts have made my pulse quicken, but also affected that nerdy writer/academic side of my heart (and brain), too. i'm so excited to see what else awaits me here in what you've written!


    hussy red

    p.s. echoing what i'm sure you receive on the regular – it's so nice to see femme-loving/allied/supportive butches with such good politics. thank goodness for y'all.

  14. Jacket's girl says:

    I sometimes love and sometimes despise the marks a joyous pregnancy left on my body. I find it heartwarming that its always the butches who have the kindest, most thoughtful reactions to them. I love to see such celebration of a body's visual history.

    Thank you for reminding me to spend more time loving that visual history. Though I can't say that I have ever felt sexier than I do now in this body that has carried and nursed a child.

  15. Dosia says:

    My stretch marks started out angry red/purple furrows as I grew from pudgy girlhood to plump teenagerhood. Now, they’re almost invisible, tiny silvery lines in my much more fit grownup self; a physical memory of that sad, self-conscious girl. Now, it doesn’t occur to me that they could be unattractive.

  16. Janie Blooms says:

    What's that I hear? The sound of a thousand girls sighing in cyberspace? Oh, Sinclair. Lovely post.

    Incidentally, I read somewhere that the cellulite one sees, the appearance of cellulite, is really mostly just shadow. The dimples are just light getting caught in the tiniest little crevices. I kinda like that.

    [Janie, I might just quote you on that, if I don't mind. The "thousand girls in cyberspace" part, I mean. And – lovely bit about cellulite. I like that too. – ss]

  17. Jen says:

    that was delicious sinclair. utterly and completely delicious. you are divine, my blogging friend. sigh….

  18. Musns says:

    I followed the trail here from Curvaceous Dee and you have eloquently pointed out the beauty in stretch marks.

    The first time I heard of them being a beautiful thing was a response on a bulletin board from a man. It was when my firstborn was a toddler and the man in question was stating how much more beautiful a female form is after it's matured, after it has gone through the puberty and then giving birth, how the body changes into something so much more.

    It was when I started reevaluating how I saw myself in the mirror. Physically – the curves, the stretch marks, scars from child birth and so forth.

    Glad I stopped by today.

  19. I went to your blog today and thought I recognized something! I'm flattered you'd quote me. Hooray!

  20. Beautiful! Makes me want to go home, shed my clothes, and rediscover my beauty. Thank you for posting this. :)

  21. Marnie says:

    Oh my…thank you. x

  22. fierce_flawless says:

    THIS entry is what got me reading your blog and now I can't stop. I'm not sure how or why I ended up finding it in the first place… but I am forever grateful for having done so. Wow.

  23. Starla Wamhoff says:

    I follow all your contents shared on web, they are most inspiring, creative and incredibly lovely to watch and read .. keep it on

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