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Women Are Highlighting Their Stretch Marks To Promote Body Positivity

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.

  • Chrissy Teigan May Have Popularized the Whole Movement


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    In April 2015, Chrissy Teigan - known for her candid and sometimes-controversial social media commentary - posted an innocent picture to Instagram: Her, sitting cross-legged, saying "Hi" to her stretch marks. Or, as Teigan calls them, "stretchies."

    The image quickly went viral, spawning countless "Models! They're Just Like Us!" articles and giving women everywhere a change to breathe a sigh of relief. Suddenly, stretch marks were normal... and maybe even sexy.

  • Painted Stretch Marks are Trending Too


    Cinta Tart Cartró is a 21-year-old artist from Spain who uses her art to protest patriarchal culture. The latest topic she's tackling? Stretch marks. Cartró paints stretch marks in all colors of the rainbow, turning women's bodies into living works of art. 

    Cartró's own battle with loving her body inspired her latest work. She hopes to show the world that “stretch marks are part of our essence, our moments, our lives, our stories and us. They are so beautiful that I do not know how sometimes they get us to hate them.”

  • Even Brands Are Getting in on Body Positivity Now


    You know stretch marks are going mainstream when major brands stop photoshopping their product images and start embracing real women's bodies in their marketing materials. ASOS, Victoria's Secret, Lane Bryant, and Missguided are among the retailers that have recently joined the body positivity parade. This - seeing real bodies represented in magazines and on billboards, and being represented as beautiful - is the kind of inclusivity that will make the biggest difference in women's lives. 

  • Celebrities Are Learning To Love Their Stretch Marks


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    The body positivity movement came about in direct response to the unrealistic standards set by the media and Hollywood. That's why it's so refreshing to see the celebrities that once helped set these unrealistic standards dispel beauty myths–namely, that celebrities have "imperfections" and "flaws" too. 

    To name a few famous women who've openly embraced their stretch marks:

    Jessica Alba says, “Even though some might consider them a flaw, I’ve learned to love my stretch marks. Pregnancy was the most incredible experience I’ve ever had. So I’ll take the stretch marks. I’ll take the cellulite I can never get rid of.”

    Reese Witherspoon says, “I am covered in stretch marks and cellulite but it doesn’t bother me at all. My body will never be the same again but I really don’t care.”

    Miranda Kerr says, “I totally gave my body over. I didn’t care if I got stretch marks, I didn’t care if I didn’t get back into shape. My main focus was to have a healthy child and it didn’t matter to me if I could model or not. I didn’t have any aims to get back in shape.”