‘You know the stretch marks on your arm are visible in this picture?’ I’m sure he meant well. I anticipated the sharp comeback drenched in bile that I would throw his way in response. But it never came. Instead, I said “Yeah, it’s actually very important if those are visible” throwing my arm out and putting said stretch marks in their best light, giving them their moment.

When Yvonne asked me to contribute to her blog, I knew right away that it was a yes. Her unique energy and drive are just what I need on my Instagram feed. Add in the fact that she is killing it in the accidental entrepreneur arena and an outspoken Nigerian woman, I was always sold. So when she sent me her UNASHAMED slogan necklace, it really unearthed some feelings in me.

UnashamedTo be honest, I think I’m surface level body positive. Halfway putting my flaws out there because I honestly love women, in all their shapes and sizes but have not yet come to terms with my expanding body. I am two stone heavier than when I was pregnant. And my body has begun to tell me that. No stranger to stretch marks (I became acquainted with my first when I was 10) I’ve accepted them willingly. Willingly because subconsciously, they’ve never been in places that people have to see. But on my arms? That can really play with a girls head.

I need my arms. I need them out of doors on a sticky summer’s day. I need to be able to wear a sleeveless gown Viola Davis style and feel empowered. I need to feel like no one is like ‘Woah, she gained hella weight, just look at her arms’ So over the past six months, I’ve been toying with ways to work these new stretch marks into my wardrobe. Where I would once work out in vests, my exercise gear now must have sleeves. I’m imagining Chanel style dinner jackets on top of flirty summer dresses. I’m trying to find a way to work my new friends and not let them work me.As per every other woman, body image issues started early. I’ve played with eating disorders but never been strong nor perps weak enough to succumb to the eternal grip of restricting food portions or relieving myself post binge. A true brick house, I developed in a waif Moss world, where anything above a size 8 was dutifully talked about amongst my large bottomed female family members. Then the Kim K effect happened (much to my dismay but this is not a post about cultural appropriation – follow my Instagram for fleeting monologues regarding that mess) and all of a sudden the figure I was naturally blessed with came into the spotlight.

But when it came to taking these pictures, with this UNASHAMED necklace bestowed upon my bare, dark marked, mole decorated skin, I felt like I would be the complete opposite of unashamed if I even dare airbrushed the stretch marks out. They are not just a sign of physical growth, but mental growth also. And it is my true belief that I will only graduate once I accept them. Because they are like tattoos. They may fade and morph with you but they will always be there. So how dare I talk about body positivity or continue to encourage women to embrace their bodies in its current state if I’m letting some stretch marks ruin my current mental state. No more of that. Get ready for some Michelle Obama arm realness this summer cause I’m a coming, without a jacket in sight.

Candice Brathwaite is a mother of one, a vlogger and the founder of cake by Candie.She also blogs candicebrathwaite.com, Her Instagram page is here.

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