Woman turns stretch marks into works of art using glitter
When we spend our whole lives looking at highly-edited images of celebrities and skimming through super-filtered snaps on our friends' social media pages, it's difficult not to feel a little bit down about our own bodies sometimes. We criticise our skin, our hair, our fashion - and it all takes a toll on our confidence.
It shouldn't be surprising, then, that a lot of us feel particularly anxious about our weight.
With all this talk of getting the best "summer body", or closely following the workout regime of certain famous figures, or obsessing over fad diets, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we're just not good enough - especially when it comes to 'imperfections' such as love handles or stretch marks.
However, that's all being changed by Sara Shakeel, a digital artist and Instagram wizard who has been transforming people's insecurities into beautiful works of art by photoshopping glitter onto her own stretch marks - and the results are stunning.
With just a little bit of editing magic, Shakeel shows that body bits which are often considered 'unsightly' are actually intricate and amazing. It's such a tiny change, but people are loving the results.
"Sara thank you so much for sharing your photos," wrote one Instagram user. "You make us women with cellulite and stretch marks feel like we can still be beautiful with them. Your photos are beautiful. You are amazing."
"Oh my God. Just brilliant," commented another. "Like, some people can say they think their marks are beautiful, and some people might disagree with that. But no one disagrees with glitter. This is so powerful! I’ve been staring at these images and I can’t get over it! I love this so much! I’m so happy you exist."
So far, Shakeel's account has attained over 210,000 followers, and some of her stretch mark artwork has been liked by over 16,000 appreciative individuals.
The numbers she draws in are really impressive - especially considering that so many other accounts pretty much promote the exact opposite of what she posts.
Shakeel, who used to be a dentist but "accidentally" became an artist, said this about her project:
"I have never felt so powerful & liberated and so f***ing proud of my stretch marks in my entire life!
"From where I come from & live, to be on the chubby side or to even talk about stretchmarks is not something one is proud of.
"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!"
"Amazing people and women are already doing such an amazing job with representing these stripes and cellulite!"
Personally, I don't think there's anything unattractive about stretch marks in the first place - and I'm sure a lot of other people don't, either. However, there are folks out there who will try to convince us that we should look a certain way, and cellulite doesn't normally fit into that ideal image.
But that's exactly why Shakeel's images should be shared, as they show that the natural bits of our bodies are actually pretty amazing.