Don’t blame the baby – stretchmarks are in your genes


Now scientists have solved the mystery about why some people are more predisposed to the scars – and the answer is in our genes.

Researchers examined the DNA of more than 760,000 people and found there are 544 ‘genetic markers’ linked to stretch marks.

According to researcher Dr Olga Sazonova, some of these increase the likelihood of suffering stretch marks, while others appear to protect against them.

Her team at the US-based firm 23andMe used the DNA data to create a computer model which could predict whether a person was more or less likely to develop stretch marks.

Dr Sazonova said: ‘For me, 81 per cent of people with genetic and other factors similar to me have stretch marks, while 19 per cent don’t.’

While stretch marks are most associated with pregnancy, other causes include growth spurts during puberty or simply piling on the pounds. The mark itself is a type of scar caused by stretched skin failing to repair perfectly.

Skin cells of people with stretch marks are genetically programmed to make lower amounts of certain proteins important for elasticity and repair, such as the aptly named elastin.

The 23andMe study was based on results from 670,000 people of European descent, with another 90,000 from other ethnic groups including African-Americans, Latin Americans and those of South Asian origin.

All were asked if they had stretch marks on their arms, legs and hips. They were purposefully not asked if they had stretch marks on the abdomen to try to ensure the results were not skewed by pregnancy. Nonetheless, the reported rate of stretch marks was much higher in women than in men.

Dr Sazonova said it was likely some of this difference was due to mothers mistakenly including abdominal stretch marks, but added it was possible women’s physiology also made their skin more prone to them.

The rates were slightly higher in non-Europeans but Dr Sazonova said this could be because stretch marks were more noticeable on darker skin.

Unfortunately, little can be done to stop stretch marks forming in the first place – other than avoiding pregnancy and putting on weight – or to make them disappear.

‘You can find all kinds of claims on the internet, but realistically I don’t think we have enough solid evidence to really say, ‘Here is one action you could take,’ ‘ Dr Sazonova said.

Happily, there is evidence that time can be a healer – older people report less scarring.


Viral social media campaign promotes stretch mark acceptance

Stretch marks, so long the bane of the beauty industry, are finally getting some love thanks to a new online body image campaign going viral.

“Love Your Lines” encourages women to embrace their marks as a positive beauty attribute by posting honest and stylish images of them on social media. The Instagram account Loveyourlines, launched by two mothers, has posted hundreds of candid photos of “real women, real bodies and real self love” and has so far gained 110,000 followers.

The stylish black and white pictures show crisscrossed thighs, wrinkly stomachs and stripy breasts in all their glory, with a few post-surgery scars thrown in for good measure. There are plenty of baby snaps, due to the obvious association with stretch marks and pregnancy, but women of all ages are featured in the gallery.

Each of the photos is accompanied by a personal story, offering insight into how women relate to their bodies and view their perceived flaws. The tales include everything from coming to terms with post-baby abs to battling obesity and even just learning to deal with the pressure to be seen as beautiful. One woman writes: “I don’t have an inspirational story… I wish I had, but in reality I’m just a young girl that is dealing with the pressures of this society.”

The movement has a celebrity fan in the form of supermodel Chrissy Teigen, who posted a cheerful shot of her stretch-marked bare thighs on her Instagram account this week, accompanied by the caption: “Stretchies say hi!”

The post that went viral


Hundreds of brave women submit images of their stretch marks to Instagram

Women of all shapes, sizes, cultural backgrounds and ages have submitted images to the account -most are mothers, but some are young women who have had stretch marks since they were teenagers.

‘I have had stretch marks since I was 13 years old. I’ll be honest, I don’t like them. I never wear bikinis… but I find these women so beautiful… Thank you for this Instagram account,’ wrote one woman, who posted an image of her toned legs.

So far, the comments section has been filled with support from other women keen to share their own stretch-mark stories.


Taunted mum posts tummy pic full of stretch marks on Facebook

A defiant mother of five who was viciously mocked on a beach because of her stretch marks has hit back by posting a picture of her sunbathing on Facebook along with an open letter to the group who abused her.

Tanis Jex-Blake, of Alberta, said the group started ‘pointing, laughing and pretending to kick me’ as she attempted to sunbathe in public in a bikini for the first time since giving birth to her first child 13 years ago.

The 33-year-old has now received messages of support from across the world after the post was shared widely on the social media site.
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