'I've learned to love stretch marks': #LoveYourLines is the latest body confidence Instagram trend
Many women will have stretch marks at some point in their lives.
It isn’t just mums whose bodies are marked with them post-pregnancy – the criss-cross lines are likely to appear on anyone whose body shape has changed.
Often, we try to hide these marks; covering them up or spreading creams, oils and lotions on them. Gossip mags and sites circle them on celebrity bodies. The message is clear: we should be ashamed.
But now one Instagram account is hoping to change that and let women celebrate their bodies, just as they are.
Love Your Lines was set up by two anonymous mums, just three days ago. It already has, at the time of writing, 8,375 followers and has re-posted 41 photographs submitted by women of their lined bodies. It asks followers to send pictures via email, and offers them the choice to remain anonymous.
In one post, the founders write: “We would love a photo showcasing a part of your body that you think will inspire others to feel good about themselves (a part that you may have struggled with in the past or currently.) Thank you so much for courageously sharing.”
The idea of the account is to celebrate “real women, real bodies and real self love.”
A typical caption reads: "I've got stretch marks that I've had to learn to love all down my breasts. They aren't going anywhere and neither is my acceptance of them."
Another woman writes: “25, 130 lbs, no kids. I've had my lines since middle school. I used to be embarrassed and hide them, tried cocoa butter and fade creams. I've learned to fully embrace it. Now I can walk down the beach, no cover up… they're forever a part of me and my lines are beautiful.”
Each photograph has hundreds of ‘likes’ and positive comments, praising others for their bravery. It’s represents the growing backlash against online body-shaming and the trend for strangers sharing their insecurities with each other, in a show of solidarity.
Earlier this month, mother-of-five Tanis Jex-Blake posted a photo on Facebook of her body in a bikini on the beach, explaining that she’d just been mocked by strangers. She penned an open letter to those who ‘pretended to kick her’, writing:
“I'm sorry if my first attempt at sun tanning in a bikini in public in 13 years ‘grossed you out’. I'm sorry that my stomach isn't flat and tight. I'm sorry that my belly is covered in stretch marks. I'm NOT sorry that my body has housed, grown, protected, birthed and nurtured FIVE fabulous, healthy, intelligent and wonderful human beings.”
Her open letter received a huge response, with over a million Facebook ‘likes’ and messages of support from people all over the world.
Another example is the a #Fatkini movement, where women (who refer to themselves as "fat") post bikini selfies on social media. They want to celebrate their bodies and show the world that beauty doesn’t have to mean skinny.
Just like Love Your Lines, the movement has attracted mainly positive comments and cultivated an online space for women to talk honestly about their bodies. However, some have called it paradoxical to share such images online, arguing that it’s still perpetuating the idea of ‘beauty standards’, objectifying women and fetishing fatness.
But the women participating say that it does the exact opposite. To them, it shows that beauty can be fat, stretch marked, scarred and wrinkled, at a time when women want to be reminded of this. The popularity, this week, of a photo of Lauren Bacall, taken a year before she died and showing her wrinkles, has been hailed as 'inspirational' and 'beautiful' - and supports this growing desire for body acceptance, loud and proud.
The huge response online for this photo, as well as #Fatkini and Love Your Lines, shows that for so many women, these body acceptance movements are invaluable. In these hashtags, women have created a safe space to celebrate their bodies and use the power of solidarity to overcome any trolling.
A comment on the Love Your Lines page sums it up, saying: “Thank [you] @loveyourlines for encouraging me to accept what is considered flawed as a thing of absolute beauty.”