If you ever glanced down at your thighs, buttocks, midriff or quite frankly anywhere on your body and felt ashamed of the wafer-thin marks that stripe your limbs like a tiger's fur, you're not alone. Stretch marks are the kind of body hangup that has goaded generations, thanks to the seemingly smooth, un-puckered limbs of supermodels and celebrities (Kim Kardashian West, we're looking at you) and the rhetoric surrounding their removal.
If you go looking, there are numerous creams, lotions, lasers and treatments you can get to rid your body of every last stretch mark. And yes, many of them will do the job, but for me, and seemingly so many women across the world, changing the way we view stretch marks could be a much more effective and empowering solution to this so-called "problem."
It's a sentiment shared by Instagram artist Sara Shakeel and her new series of collages that remind us there is beauty to be found in our stretch marks.
If you don't follow Shakeel (and quite frankly, you must), her usual portfolio consists of surrealist-style artworks that collage galactic patterns on top of somewhat ordinary photographs, quite often as a kind of commentary on modern society.
In her stretch mark collages, Shakeel replaces stretch marks with bands of gold glitter. "Glitter marks or stretch marks?" she asks her followers and in a recent post, she explained how the feedback to her work has changed her outlook on her own body. "I have never felt so powerful & liberated and so f*cking proud of my stretch marks in my entire life !!!" she wrote on Instagram. "I have seen my stretch marks grow from the day I started putting on weight, I'd be honest even before uploading it I was thinking why would anyone be interested in my concept of stretch marks turned into glitter or crystals!!! My god I was so wrong!"
It's a pretty empowering message, right? And turning something that is at best traditionally seen as a beauty bugbear and at worst, a flaw into, a KiraKira style work of art feels like a movement we can all get behind. Regram, bookmark and send to every single one of your friends.