Stretch marks: most women have them, but few women go so far as to flaunt them. That’s all about to change, though. Stretch marks are the latest “flaw” to get a much-deserved body positivity makeover. And why not? Stretch marks act as a road map to a woman’s life: as badges of honor for all she has been through; as symbols of growth, trauma, and life. Now that’s natural beauty.
If you’re on social media, you may have noticed stretch mark pride trending thanks to artist Sara Shakeel’s Instagram photo collages. Each of Sara’s collages depicts a different woman baring her body and her “stretchies,” with every last stretch mark coated in bright, bold glitter. The juxtaposition aims to reframe how we think about our perceived flaws, and women have enthusiastically responded by lending pictures of their own stretch marks to the movement. To date, there are nearly 500,000 tagged #stretchmark images on Instagram.
Will women embracing their stretch marks become the norm, much like calling out retouching photos? We hope so - and not only for the glitter stretch marks #inspo. Here's everything you need to know about stretch mark pride, how the movement got started, celebrities who’ve revealed unphotoshopped images of their stretch marks, and what’s next for Sara Shakeel’s #glitterstretchmarks movement.
#GlitterStretchMarks Are the Latest Trend in Body Positivity
Sara Shakeel practically broke the internet when her #glitterstretchmarks collage art went live in late October 2017. The artist was inspired to create the series after a friend asked her to photoshop her stretch marks out of an image.
"That made me sad because I too have a lot of them myself, including cellulite," Shakeel told Huffington Post UK. "So with all that in mind I made glitter and space stretch marks." Of covering stretch marks in glitter (because, let's be honest, everyone loves glitter,) Shakeel says she wanted to bring attention to the beauty of stretch marks and "fill them up with something pretty."
Stretch Marks Are Totally Normal
A little background on stretch marks: almost all women have some. Stretch marks are technically a form of scarring, caused when the dermis tears. This can happen when the skin stretches, like during a growth spurt or weight gain, or when hormones are changing, like during puberty or pregnancy. Most stretch marks appear on the thighs, stomach, breasts, and butt - but really, they can happen anywhere!
Bodies of All Shapes and Sizes Have Stretch Marks
There's a myth out there that stretch marks only exist on fat bodies. In fact, that's not true -and that myth only serves to fill women with more body shame. Bodies of all shapes and sizes have stretch marks - from the rail-thin to the big and beautiful.
Mothers Brought Stretch Marks Into the Body Positivity Movement
In 2014, two mothers started the Instagram account @loveyourlines (since deleted), along with the matching #loveyourlines hashtag, to "celebrate stretch marks." The account resonated with mothers who were done feeling ashamed and instead wanted to take pride in their bodies. Over 20,000 women have since submitted photos of their stretch marks alongside stories about pregnancy and motherhood, illustrating the hard work and love that goes into creating every last stretch mark.