Stretch marks, so long the bane of the beauty industry, are finally getting some love thanks to a new online body image campaign going viral.
"Love Your Lines" encourages women to embrace their marks as a positive beauty attribute by posting honest and stylish images of them on social media. The Instagram account Loveyourlines, launched by two mothers, has posted hundreds of candid photos of "real women, real bodies and real self love" and has so far gained 110,000 followers.
The stylish black and white pictures show crisscrossed thighs, wrinkly stomachs and stripy breasts in all their glory, with a few post-surgery scars thrown in for good measure. There are plenty of baby snaps, due to the obvious association with stretch marks and pregnancy, but women of all ages are featured in the gallery.
Each of the photos is accompanied by a personal story, offering insight into how women relate to their bodies and view their perceived flaws. The tales include everything from coming to terms with post-baby abs to battling obesity and even just learning to deal with the pressure to be seen as beautiful. One woman writes: "I don't have an inspirational story... I wish I had, but in reality I'm just a young girl that is dealing with the pressures of this society."
The movement has a celebrity fan in the form of supermodel Chrissy Teigen, who posted a cheerful shot of her stretch-marked bare thighs on her Instagram account this week, accompanied by the caption: "Stretchies say hi!"
As well as gaining pace on Instagram, Love Your Lines has a Tumblr, celebrating all things stripy when it comes to the female form. You can check it out here, or even submit your own stretchy selfies to share with the world.
So I've been hating my body ever since Mya was born. My stomach didn't go flat, like I imagined it would. My stretch marks didn't go away, like everyone told me they would. My pregnancy line hasn't fully gone away, like everyone said it would. I will never have the perfect body that I used to have and I'm starting to accept that. My body stretched and stretched until it could no more. I have such deep stretch marks that will never go away. Maybe they'll fade with time but they will always be there. I am starting to love my lines because it shows that I carried my beautiful baby girl for 9+ months in my belly. I'm lucky enough to be able to have this ability to do so. Not all women can have children and I am very blessed with that gift. Mya is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Everyone has their scars and stories to tell, so embrace and learn to love them too. Just incase you think this picture is disgusting or disturbing you should think before you say anything because my body created this beautiful little girl who's growing perfectly. submission from: @tearknee22
'I spent the days leading up to vacation trying to decide if I'd wear a two piece. My decision is apparent, but my reasoning is simple - I earned every stripe adorning my body. It's a pity that having a child is a direct cause for self image issues, as opposed to being cause for an ongoing celebration. I had stretch marks before my daughter. I have more after having her. I was a divine vessel before having my daughter, & that hasn't changed now that she's here. If anything, it only affirms what is. Loving my body is a direct insult to anything that would have me think otherwise.' submission by: @bhargette