Though many of us have stretch marks, we've been conditioned to think of them as flaws instead of the perfectly normal parts of our bodies that they are.
Artist Sara Shakeel, however, has been using her photographs not only to normalize stretch marks, but also to show their beauty.
Shakeel uses glitter to highlight stretch marks on people's bodies in a photo series that she has shared on Instagram and Facebook. She tells Cosmopolitan that she began teaching herself to use Photoshop after failing dental school and began making collages as a creative outlet.
"I still remember that feeling of making those glitter stretch marks, and I was quite scared of uploading it," she told Cosmo. "I am a Pakistani-based artist and talking about stretch marks or even making art out of it is not something you talk about on a regular basis."
The goal of her series, she said, is to celebrate the things about your body that society tells you are flaws. She was inspired to create the series after she photographed a friend, who asked her to Photoshop out any of the stretch marks that showed up.
"That made me sad because I too have a lot of them myself, including cellulite," she told Huffington Post UK. "So with all that in mind I made glitter and space stretch marks. I’ll be honest before even uploading them I was wondering why would anyone be interested in my stretch marks.
Little did I know the world needed this empowerment and some amazing ladies were already on that mission. I am so glad I put that [first photo] up."
Since Shakeel started her series, she's received a ton of positive responses from her followers.
"Wow that is so beautiful," one person wrote on her latest photo. "I'm one of those who are ashamed of my stretchmarks and cellulite. [...] Thank you so much for doing this. It's very empowering."
The positive response had Shakeel floored.
"I'll be honest, when I made this artwork, I was scared of uploading it, I was actually wondering who the hell would be interested in my marks or the cellulite, but my God, how wrong I was," she tells Refinery29. "I realized I was not alone and I had to make a lot of glitter and crystal stretch mark art for the ones who share similar thoughts."
Read on for more of her photos.