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High Angle View Of Pregnant Woman Lying On Bed Source: Artem Varnitsin / EyeEm / Getty

I made it eight whole months without seeing a stretch mark. My friends described my baby bump as “perfect.” Bio Oil, African Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter and Aveeno lotion became a daily moisturizing regimen in hopes of counteracting the rapid stretching of my skin. Stretch marks effect 90% of women, who will get them sometime after their sixth or seventh month of pregnancy, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. I cried all night. I cried because I had somehow tied not getting stretch marks to being special and I cried for being superficial enough to cry over stretch marks when there are women out here struggling to get pregnant or not able at all.

But even then, I couldn’t stop mourning what was my body and my definition of sexy. Pregnancy is hard. I’m in the home stretch, or the “end game” as I like to call it in honor of the late great Tony Stark, and I’ve come to terms with my marks, but not without moments of weakness. Social media makes is impossible to escape the “snap back” body and celebrities who publicly denounce stretch marks as a mark of shame. It feels like a beauty death sentence. I’ve even looked into cool laser treatments to have them removed, but it’s a hefty price tag that requires much savings with a newborn on the way.

Recently, Nikita Gibson, hair artist and brand founder, posted her unretouched maternity photos on Instagram baring her stretch marks with a powerful message to women.

I sent her a DM to let her know how much I appreciated her transparency because I’m too insecure about mine to post them on let alone talk about them outside of my girl tribe.

Many of Nikita’s followers also gathered in her comments section to praise the beauty influencer, who is pregnant with her second child.

“With my first, I experienced a full term pregnancy with no stretch marks,” she explained. “Now here I am with so many stripes and despite not being thrilled about it, I still think this journey and myself are absolutely beautiful and I want other women to feel the same way about theirs! No one is worried about it unless you are!” She added, “Love yourself!”

Stretch marks are mostly permanent but will reportedly fade over time while laser therapy is one of the newest treatments for stretch marks that appears to be effective in reducing their appearance.

I’m one week away from due date and the marks keep growing. Thank God for friends, who remind me that motherhood may come with some scars and that’s OK. (They still think my bump is perfect). My boyfriend reiterates how beautiful I am regardless of them scars and how blessed I am in other aspects of my pregnancy.

I still feel insecure at times, but I remember it’s more important to focus on having a healthy child and getting through the battle that is labor and delivery.

Much of my insecurities around my stretch marks comes from society perpetuating unrealistic and unattainable body standards. As the average woman, I’m constantly comparing myself to women who can afford plastic surgery and maintain expensive beauty treatments. Celebrity women who have nannies to watch their children while they focus on the gym and nutritionist to balance their diets. It’s created this infatuation with perfection that simply does not exist.

While I go back and forth with my emotions and Google search the cost of laser treatment every other day, I understand the root of my issue and as long as I’ve gotten to that point, I can talk myself off the proverbial ledge when I feel like I’m about to jump.

Any ladies out there feel the same?

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