Monday, 16 September 2013
My Battle with Stretch Marks & Self-Confidence
Today I've decided to do something a little different, because I want to share with you how I started my journey into the beauty world. I know some of you may have pieced parts of a story together from places like Twitter, my skincare posts over on Tattoo Tealady and even some of the writing I've done for London Beauty Queen. But I want to share with you a very personal side of me, as I want every single one of you to know that things get better.
When I was younger and was in full swing of a hormonal battle with my body, I lacked self-confidence. Not just in the way I looked, but mentally, and it was the biggest and most heartbreaking thing I think I've ever felt in my entire life to date. The reason I had no confidence? Scars. Terrible, awful, gut-wrenching scars caused by intense growth spurts that left my body a ripped, raw canvas.
I was a massive tomboy growing up, preferring to have my face painted like a Ninja Turtle rather than have it adorned with glittery butterflies. I played football, I found male company much preferable to the bitchy conversations that my female friends had started adapting and I wore little to no makeup. This went on for many years until hitting high school, where I started to take a little more pride in my appearance and took note of boys in a way I hadn't really done before. I would take care to put my hair up in a ponytail, wear slightly shorter skirts, put on a little mascara and, most importantly, I'd smile more often. This was a good time for me, school holds a lot of great memories as well as some of the darker ones. Puberty came and I developed as any young girl did and my breasts growing at this point were fine. The stretch marks I gained mainly on my thighs were what made me switch to trousers, but they were fine and barely visible unless I was being particularly observant. In the few years of high school I went from being flat chested to having fairly sizeable breasts for such a slight person. However, it wasn't until the summer before college was due to start that things took a turn for the worst..
It was like it happened overnight, because looking back on it now it didn't seem as if everything happened over the course of several months or even weeks, it felt like days. I looked down and all I could see was red, stretched skin where my breasts used to be. I could hardly bare to look at them most days, switching bras between hasty showers was something that reduced me to tears. I was a wreck by the time the warmer weather was truly upon us and would wear oversized t-shirts and baggy jeans even in full 30 degree heat. It wasn't until I was in my usual cover-all attire, in the garden with my mother that it all came out. She'd told me to go get changed into a bikini, which was the last thing on my mind. Who would want to look at such a ravaged body? Who could bear that? It looked like I'd been mauled by a tiger, and to this day it's what my mum and I talk about whenever it's brought up. I burst into tears, all my pent up emotions flooding out of me and I didn't stop. It was like the seal had been broken and it felt like I must have cried for hours, but in that time I had been consoled and set to rights. First thing in the morning, I was to try a new 'wonder product' my mum had come across: Bio-Oil.
The next day, a massive bottle of Bio-Oil in hand, I sat on the edge of the bath and stared at the packaging. I chose not to believe that this could ever work for me. How could an oil change what had already happened to my body? It was no use, in my mind, it was already ruined and I'd never find someone to love something so hideous. But, resigned to worst case scenarios, I did use it. It may not have changed me overnight, but several months of continual use morning and night, with occasional extra use when I had the chance and my scars faded. Once not even able to look at my reflection in the mirror, I could see them disappearing before my eyes, and it looked like me again. I went to college, I started developing a different sense of style, I could feel myself changing into the person I wanted to be since before my body grew and I was left with life changing stretch marks. Yes, stretch marks don't ruin your life, but they ruin your self-confidence, which is as good as hammering the final nail in the coffin of a teenager with body hangups. I used that whole bottle up and the stretch marks look like fine, slightly silver/white dashes on my skin. I know I'll never be fully rid of them, but how they are now is something I'll take any day over how they were.
So what happened to me after that? Now I look back on the younger me and wish I could tell her everything will be okay. That she will meet a man, that in fact she will have several relationships and even be living with the love of her life. That she will graduate with honours and have worked with some of the biggest clients she could ever think of. That she will even visit her best friend in America and spend most of that time in a bikini in the sunshine. All these things and more. It's a shame I don't have any pictures of me from that time, it would be nice to see just how far I've come, and how much further I've yet to go.
Recently I was contacted by the PR company for Bio-Oil and asked if I would like to be their Story of the Week on their Facebook page. I was blown away that they had gone out of their way to scope out the snippets of conversation I'd had about Bio-Oil over twitter and various other platforms that I didn't hesitate. My story went online on my birthday and made me feel ridiculously proud that such a product not only turned my life around, but allowed me an avenue into beauty. I know there has been some controversy recently about mineral oil being used as one of the ingredients of Bio-Oil, but I have had no negative results from this so can't attest to that fact. Mineral oil isn't a bad thing, it's not necessarily beneficial, but it's not going to harm your skin. For someone like myself, who has had their life vastly improved by something that did contain such an ingredient, I will never complain against it.
So that's me, Adrienne with the confidence to start up a blog, a YouTube channel and go to events. Who would ever have thought that?