Friends, I'd like to talk to you about something, and this is not easy, especially for a woman who has never been pregnant: Stretchmarks.

The first round appeared probably around 14 or 15, as part of a puberty-induced growth spurt that was not only up but out, and around. The backs of my knees, the sides of my breasts, my hips - all the skin was pushed outward as my body went from lean and flat to round and curved. At the time the marks were horrifyingly distinct, but time passed and they faded, and decades later, I don't even think about them.


But lately I've noticed that I'm in round two. This time, it's the awful combination of meds, sitting in front of a computer 10 hours a day and an especially stressy winter. New stretchmarks, in new places. I thought long and hard before getting a tattoo and waited until I turned 30; and now I have these natural permanent marks I don't even want. The boyfriend has zero problem with them and calls them "tiger stripes," but I'm not happy. And it's strange, because most of the time, no one knows. I'm a fairly confident person, I'm not into feeling shame about my body; my philosophy has always been "work with what you've got." But this second round of marks has taken me by surprise, and I feel like they're little party poopers, raining on my skin parade.

Talk to me people, do you have them? How do you deal? Do you feel differently about having marks in different places — for instance, is it somehow easier on the breasts than on the stomach or thighs? And does anyone have any suggestions for treatment besides cocoa butter?