that’s a stretch

I didn’t get stretch marks when I was pregnant.  I got them when I was fat.  Twelve, maybe younger.  I have white squiggly ones that look like yawning maggots, stretching across my breasts, near my hips, and along my inner thighs.  I never really notice them, but I remember them when they were young and impressionable, pink and rosy like the past.   They were red as I took to fattening up, and when I lost weight, I remember feeling as thrilled as I imagined the obese men who’d lost half their weight claimed to feel upon finding their penis again.  Because my red stripes turned white.  It was as exciting as collarbones and belts.  I know some people rub them with vitamin e.  Others wear them like a banner, proud of their body’s great history.  I don’t mind mine so much, despite describing them as maggots.  I mind, much more than silly stretch marks, moles.  I’ve never really noticed them on my own body, but when I observe others, just casually in passing, I notice how we seem to collect dark marks as we age.  I’m not bothered by aging, just the markings, the dots, like the rings of trees.  I’m due for a physical.  I need a proper doctor here in Texas who doesn’t need to look at my vagina.  I’ve already got one of those–eh, the vagina and the doc for it.  I’m in need of a dermatologist and an internist, someone who can remove fluid from my ganglion cyst.  Score.  I totally managed to get maggots, moles,penis, vagina, ganglion, and cyst into one blog post.  Go, Steph.



  1. I've got one of those – a ganglion – on the back of my left hand, near my wrist. It comes and goes. I booked myself if for surgery (six weeks in bandages!) and the day before the trip to hospital, it went away – popped when I picked up a bag of groceries. Well, it's back again. It hurts too much to consider hitting it with a bible, but I can't be bothered filling in all those hospital forms again. So I try to pretend it's a wrist bone and it sticks out because right there? That's where I'm super-skinny.

  2. i'm surprised you didn't go into more detail about your "ganglion cyst"

    FROM STEPHANIE: Yeah, been there, posted that… years ago… it has stopped popping on me and now feels like a bone. I cannot do push ups because of it… perhaps a reason to keep it around. I won't get the surgery until I finish writing the book, but I'd love to get the fluid extracted just for some relief.

  3. You're certainly not alone with this kind of stretchmarks… and it's comforting to know I'm not alone with mine either ;-)
    I feel the same way about mine and they don't bother me anymore. I have them on my hips, above my ass, on my belly, on my breasts. I am just going down from VERY overweight to still somewhat overweight to hopfully normally sized one day, lost 20 lbs already within the past 5 1/2 months since my gynecologist said I would have trouble being pregnant at my weight, that just said as a side note.

    Apart from sharing my story I just wanna say, excellent and entertaing post with the maggots, moles, penis, vagina, ganglion, and cyst in 15 lines :-))

  4. Skin tags. Those weird little flaps of skin that are appearing all over my body. What's with THAT? Ugh.

  5. Impressive! That actually made me a little nauseous. (I think it was the draining fluid from the cyst part).

  6. Hilarious! That is why I love to read your blog each day. I love how you got all the grody words in one paragraph. And you covered the creepy crawlies nicely earlier this month! So – double score for Steph! Greeetings from Fort Worth!

  7. I have a ganglion cyst! Is yours on your wrist, top of your hand? Apparently that's their usual location, especially on women. Anyway, I had mine drained by a hand surgeon (Yeah, a surgeon. For some reason, a surgeon is needed to do what is essentially like popping a giant zit. Gross. Sorry.) and it's come back (the cyst, not the surgeon). So, I'll get it drained one more time, and after that the best option is surgery to snip out the weak part that's allowing the cyst to develop.

    So, all in all, fun!

    FROM STEPHANIE: I already know mine will come back once it's drained. It had popped a few times a few YEARS ago, but now it's bigger than ever and has stopped popping. Mine is on the top of my wrist. My mother has one that's on the bottom. I really believe it developed from all the typing coupled with all my time maneuvering with a really heavy camera. I noticed my wrist would hurt after shoots… or when I write for too long. It's not carpel tunnel… just a benign cyst.

  8. Now I know how you feel, thanks! I wonder how the men feel about them? Probably doesn't bother them as much as we think.

    Great blog, by the way. I've been reading it for a year and a half…can't wait until the show based on your first book airs. Who will they find to play you, I wonder?

  9. I have a great dermatologist here in Austin. Her name is Janet Dubois and her office is located on Jollyville near Duval. The name of the practice is Ladera Park Dermatology.

  10. Delicious reading as I sit here eating Mexican food for lunch. You rock sista. Does this comment make me a 12 year old boy?? Oh well, viva all things gross on the body..

  11. "look like yawning maggots" – brilliant!
    I got my share of those "maggots" when I gained weight before pregnency, but for some reasons was surprised when I discovered some on the front of my thighs in the last trimester of pregnancy. They were purplish. Of course, at the point I could only see my thighs in the mirror..

  12. Anything in particular you used or did to avoid stretchmarks while pregnant?

  13. Usually it's some type of trauma to the wrist that can cause those cysts. I had one too and like Trish above mine went away. It came back a year later but I wore my wrist brace and avoided too much typing and it went back down.

    I have a gf whose neice came up and asked her when she was undressing why she had those lines on her hips. My gf answered, "They're my racing stripes!"
    haha. I thought that was great.

    Am I the only one in here since having a baby that when I get a scab or any kind of sore it takes forever to heal now? Maybe it's b/c I dont eat as healthy as I should but I swear it's like my body has just said "fuck it" and takes forver to work to heal.

    Oh and I am LOVING the chin hairs I get now. Pffft.

  14. I wonder if I am one of the oldest readers/fans? I am 60-ish and can relate to so many of your observations of life/people even though 30 years separate us. I am always looking for people like you. Very hard to find people who make great observations about life.

  15. I sat down with my lunch to catch up with you today – bad idea!! Oh well, a good diet plan.

    I am the queen of stretch marks (sadly). They are all white ones – I once told my kids that I was clawed on my belly by a leopard when they asked what they were. They believed me for a while.

  16. I, too, love that you are writing almost every day. As much as I love drooling over photos of your cherubs, I like your writing A LOT.

    I was wondering if you have plans for a future post about weight issues, etc. Not that YOU personally have issues with weight, I'm just talking in general. I am 5'6" and 9 weeks ago weighed in at 155, which for me is big. Now, after adopting a healthier eating plan and exercise I am weighing in at 140. I still have about 15 pounds to go and would love to hear your insight on the way women deal with their struggles with weight and what drives our desire to be thin, thin, thin!


    FROM STEPHANIE: I will post about this. I am currently working on my second book, due in stores spring/summer 2008 all about my childhood dealing with weight, and I am struggling DAILY with how to answer this kind of question, and if I even should be answering this type of question in my memoir, MOOSE. I plan on posting about this struggle as it keeps me up at night. I'm having such a hard time balancing what I dealt with then, as an adolescent, and how I feel about that now, and how I feel about weight now, as an adult. It's a lot of material, let me tell you.

  17. I've lost about 75 lbs, 25 to go, and my stretch marks are out of control. It makes me really sad that as an athlete and somebody who is starting to look pretty damn good in clothes, I'll probably never like the way I look OUT of clothes, and I'll certainly never wear a bikini, at least not in public, at least not without surgery.

    To whoever suggested the strivectin — does it really work? Were your stretch marks OLD stretch marks? I mean, I'm 29 and got the stretch marks probbaly 5 years ago, when my weight spiked up to 250, I wonder if they are too old to go away?


    Stephanie, I'm really excited to read your second book.

  18. I swear a new mole pops up on me at least yearly. I've always had them – flat, dotty brown "beauty marks." I've grown to accept them as a part of my appeal. Plus, I have the highly coveted upper lip mole in a flattering medium brown color. Women draw them on for character; I grew mine. As long as they stay flat and pretty, then they can stay.

  19. Check out Hill Country restaurant in NY….

    Re: weight…it's really hard isn't it. I used to ahte shopping for clothes when I was "big", then hated how the old ones eventually looked, either shabby or tight.

    Now I've embraced the fact that at different times in life, I've been different sizes, and will be again (ie hopefully after giving birth, which my husband and I are currently trying for. which is pretty fun. :)

    I just accept that I don't stay still, in one place, the glamorous me at a certain weight where certain men would hit on me…the chubby but cute me where a whole different range of men (most of them nicer) would be interested…and unfortunately once or twice in my life the really pudgy and uncomfortable me, who was surprised every time she looked in the mirror, kind of aghast and embarassed that all the anxious face stuffing with junk food and candy had settled on my bones somehow, permeated, permanent. Or at least it felt that way until my next opportunity came to unwind and focus on my health, go running on the beach again, eat mahi mahi and salads and re-learn yoga and karate.

    Whew, this was too long a riff. But I had been reading for a while and definitely enjoying.

    Your pregnancy story was a highlight for me, full of hope.

    HOpe you like the brisket.

    FROM STEPHANIE: Read all about Hill Country in NY. I still read restaurant reviews in NY like a psycho. You'd be surprised how many men still email me (IM me) asking for date suggestions… where should they take this new woman they like… has to be UES, cause that's where she lives, etc. And I love having a clue. Love knowing where my friends are going… and where I'll be going in August when I'm back in NY.

  20. I've got stretch marks on my boobs, post-breastfeeding. Hardcore. My OB recommended Striae Stretch mark Cream. I haven't tried it yet. I just keep hoping they'll go away.

  21. I had a horrendous ganglion cyst for 18 years that came and went and got worse in the last 3 years of its existence, and finally got it cut out in a ganglionectomy in January 2005. It, too, was hard like bone and approaching the size of a large marble (maybe 3/4 the size). It had lodged and grown in between the joints of my wrist on top of my hand. To this day I have a small scar where the hand surgeon cut it out. I've never regretted the surgery; they say if you have it aspirated it just comes back. Mine has not, thank god. I'd just say if you do have the ganglionectomy, make sure you get good physical therapy for the wrist. It is actually quite a debilitating surgery; I couldn't type for 3 weeks nor take a shower or wash my hair on my own for a while. I still can't do the downward dog in yoga without discomfort, as the wrist is still weak, less from the surgery than from the bones that the cyst pushed apart.

  22. hi there…i have stretchmarks from when i put on a lot of weight. im so embarrassed about them because theyre red and look like ive been scratched. i have them on my hips and inner thighs. i was just wondering…how long did it take for yours to go white? im seventeen and i hate them so much…

    i love your writing and i get so excited when i see emails notifying me about new posts in my inbox :)

    FROM STEPHANIE: I don't remember how long it took for them to turn white on me. Though at your age, you should try using that cream people are recommending on here. That cream would do nothing for mine now… they're from when I was 13. I'm now transposed, at 31.

  23. Dr. Dano is a great dermatologist. I have been going to her for years.

  24. i guess i am lucky enough not to have stretch marks, but boy do i have cellulite! it seems to get worse as i get older. i've been using one of those firming creams that seems to *kind of* help. or maybe its just me!

    anyhoo, i just bought your book, stephanie, and i CANNOT wait to dig into it, although i have to wait until after july 25 after my big bar exam. i am literally hiding it under the seat in my car. if not, forget it. step aside, con law and trusts essays. hopefully third time will be a charm for me.

    ps – just want to say thanks for being a good distraction from studying :D reading your blog makes me feel sane and normal.

  25. Stephanie Klein – this is the stuff that keeps me coming back for more.

    keep up the good work!

  26. I'm in my mid-30s and have stretch marks on my breasts, hips, thighs, and belly, and probably in other places I just haven't noticed yet, and I think I got all of them over 20 years ago. The most overweight I've been is 20 to 30 lbs, and as far as I know the stretch marks mostly happened during puberty, when I just grew up (and out) probably faster than my skin could grow. I actually remember feeling it when one happened–I'd just stepped out of the shower and bent down to dry my feet or something, and I felt this painless (but permanent!) split under the skin on my belly. It's huge and looks like a scar (which I guess it is), and doctors and lovers tend to notice right away and ask "What happened here?" How to answer *that*?

  27. I pass as thin (size 8) and I've had stretchmarks on my bum for about 5 years now, since I was 19. My mom is scary-skinny (92 pounds… but she's just 1,5 meter tall) and she has them too. It's not a question of huge weight gains/loss in our case, they just appeared. They're very white, so they do stand out a bit when we get a tan. But then again, it reminds me a bit of the okapis in our local zoo, they've got their bums covered in white stripes, and they don't look too bad either.

  28. From what I know of stretchmarks, while they're still purplish/reddish/pinkish, you might have a shot at fading them with the available creams/lotions/potions. Once they fade out to white, Happy Birthday, because they're yours forever.

    As a woman who has lost over 100 pounds, and been overweight my entire life, I have more than my share. I just try to ignore that they're there.

    I personally, however, despise the crepe-y skin that appears when you lose weight. It gathers on the thin skin of your inner thigh, under your upper arm near your armpit, and other random places. Ugh.

    Anywho, I can't wait until I go through pregnancy and attempt to nurse.. I'm sure I'll add the thin skin of my breasts to the crepe list. Something to look forward to!

  29. That's why I don't fall that "real" women campaign from Dove. Yes the women aren't stick skinny like the lollipop head models. But they are also not "real." I don't see any stretch marks or dimples. So in turn if the "real" women make me feel like a lined freak.

  30. To Betty-
    Regarding stretch marks during pregnancy.. ask your mother what happened to her or your sisters if you have them. My sister called me when she heard I was pregnant and said not to worry that she did not get them and neither did Mom.

    I already had a few from a growth spurt around age 13 but got none during pregnancy (even with a 42 inch waist at 9 months). So, go figure.If you do get them, please try to take them in stride. Easier said than done, of course. Good luck to you.

  31. Hi Stephanie,
    Years ago, I had a ganglion that was becomming a real nuisance. I had it drained & it came back. I (if you can believe it) fell out of bed & it burst. When it came back again I had it surgically removed. It never came back. MT is so right regarding after the surgery. It slows you down but heals in time.

    FROM STEPHANIE: Well I can't have surgery until after I finish writing… and uh, I don't know when that will happen. After Moose, I have to write NBC stuff, articles, and uh, maintain a blog. Not to mention pick up my sweet beans.

  32. OK, this has nothing to do with your post, but I am currently reading Little Pink Slips, and noticed that there's "praise" from you on the back cover. Did you really read it and like it? or do you get paid to say such things? I've always wondered about that. Either way, I'm about half way through it and loving it.

    FROM STEPHANIE: Yes, I really read it, and no, authors do not get paid to write blurbs. I took writing classes with Sally, the author of Little Pink Slips, so I have seen the book in its many stages (and enjoyed it).

  33. This has nothing to do with stretch marks, but I do wonder if you really read, and liked Little Pink Slips, or if you just said that? I've always wondered about that. And as a lurker on your blog I got giddy when I noticed that you even had a comment on the back of it and said to myself "I know her!" … BTW, I'm half way through and really enjoying it.

  34. It's like a big conspiracy.. stretch marks? What strech marks? We cover them up.. they are airbrushed from magazines, it's not polite conversation. But why?

    It would have made me feel so much better about my body if I knew MOST women have them. They covered my DD boobs. I was already mortified about having huge boobs. They fact that they had strech marks just complicated it. I felt it was like a having a Scarlet Letter.

  35. I had a ganglion cyst on my left dorsal wrist. I had it removed by a great hand surgeon in Houston – he is the hand surgeon for the Houston Rockets. I was under general anesthesia, but was out of the hospital in 3-4 hours. He used an arthroscopic method – meaning he cut 2 slits (required 1 stitch each- can barely see them 2 years later) on each side of the slit and then used the arthroscope arms to go in and remove the cyst. Wore a wrap around my wrist for a week and never went to hand therapy. I have full range of motion and highly recommend having this procedure done. I, too, couldn't do push-ups because of it. The doctor said he has never had one of his patients have a recurrence of the cyst after he surgically removed it. I highly recommend the procedure and this doctor, in particular.

  36. I guess I'm not the only one that has these lovely things called stretch marks from something other than pregnancy! I've had stretch marks since I was 12. I remember thinking "thank god my high school doesn't have swimming because no way in hell would I get in that pool!" I have these beauties on my upper arms, my legs, my stomach, my breasts, pretty much everywhere. I look at tank tops and sleeveless shirts and cry inside knowing that I can never wear them and feel comfortable. The stretch marks on other parts of my body bother me but the ones on my arms…they make me sad. I look at wedding dresses and wonder what I am going to do to cover them. My sister is getting married and I had to request that I use a shawl because I didn't want to be the girl with the ugly marks in the pictures.

    FROM STEPHANIE: The thing is, no one but you is looking or noticing. Studies concur that we think way too much of ourselves. No one really cares, or notices, except for us. Same thing when we make a public mistake (like falling, or messing up a speech)… people notice, but they don't really care. It's nothing. We tend to inflate our own lives, especially our "grief." Oh go ahead, say it with me, "fuck it."

  37. Megan.. I kind of see your point about the "Real Women" campaign and I'm jealous of their skin, too, since mine looks nothing like theirs.. but even though they're showcasing women with more realistic body shapes, they're still trying to sell skincare. Of course they're going to go for people with perfect skin. It's all pure marketing, of course, but I'm willing to let Dove think they've duped me with their campaign as long as little girls can see some average-sized women on TV portrayed as beautiful. (Has anyone tried that Cream Oil bodywash of theirs? It actually greased up my shower so bad I almost wiped out. Blech.)

    And oh, Karena, the crepey skin. I totally feel you. If plastic surgery weren't so incredibly expensive, I'd get things fixed up a bit.

  38. Stephanie,

    I had a huge ganglion cyst (size of half a ping pong ball) in the same place as yours drained several times. Then surgery. I was typing again within 48 hours and a week later I would not have known it had ever been there. No reason to "wait" until a lull in your life if it's bothering you.

  39. Stephanie!
    I happen to be fairly young and be a person with many-a-mole. My sister who happens to share the same genetic trait sent me this article from the BBC and I LOVE IT.
    "They found the more moles a person had, the more likely their DNA was to have the properties to fight off aging"

    How lucky can a moley-girl get?

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