Stretch Marks Aren't Ugly. They're Beautiful.

Approximately 80 percent of Americans have stretch marks. They can be caused by everything from pregnancy to the growth spurts we get when we’re going through puberty, and both women and men are susceptible to them. Contrary to belief, they’re not actually caused by skin “stretching”; it’s hormonal. There are multiple ways to prevent and treat them, ranging from topical creams to laser procedures — but you know what? Stretch marks aren’t “ugly.” They’re beautiful, and the new Instagram account Love Your Lines aims to celebrate that beauty. It showcases photographs of stretchmarked bodies as something to be admired, not distained. They’re a testament to who we are and what we’ve been through.

Love Your Lines was created by two moms on the East Coast (who are remaining anonymous for now) after a chat they had about how giving birth to children had changed their bodies. Accordingly, they created the Instagram account and sent out a call for submissions — and in just one night, ended up with an overwhelming response. It’s still quite new — the first images were posted Aug.12 — but in the past two days alone, 28 photos have been posted, and according to the Huffington Post, 70 had been submitted by last night.

Many of the images have captions from whose who sent them in. Said the woman who submitted this one:

"I'm 22 and I have had my stretch marks since the age of 12. I thought my lines came from being overweight but being a size 2 I know stretch marks do not discriminate when it comes to weight or size. I love my lines, I flaunt them at the beach or pool side with friends."

And this one:

"My kidneys almost failed due to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in 2005. Due to excess amounts of fluid in my body and steroids I rapidly gained 40lbs. Going from 140 to about 180 in a matter of weeks. After losing the extra weight, I was blessed with these lines. My lines remind me of what I have conquered. They remind me to be thankful and grateful for my new life."

And this one:

"I'm a mother of 3... I have learned to love my body, love lines included."

And this one:

"I have not (yet) birthed any children, but my body has changed and stretched causing me to have stretchmarks on various places of my body. They serve as a reminder of the years my legs carried me as I sprinted around the track, and the many times I tried to change myself to fit the mold of what I thought society wanted me to look like...smaller waist...smaller legs...smaller everything...then bigger legs...bigger butt...and so on, and they serve as a reminder too that no matter how much I try to manipulate this form I've been given, sometimes the changes come whenever and wherever God sees fit. So I thank him for all the love lines and the memories too."

Love 'em. All of 'em.

Said one of the founders, a 31-year-old wedding photographer, to HuffPo via email, “I found it interesting that all types of women have stretch marks because I’ve had them on my thighs since I was a teenager.” She continues: “So even though I’m a mom (which gave me a few more) I’ve been coming to terms with my marks for a long time now. I’m also very thin so looking at me with clothes on, you’d think I had no body issues.” The second, a 25-year-old entrepreneur, added: “Even though we are moms, we both had ‘stretchies’ before having kids and we are aware that women get them for different reasons at different times. Both of us are thrilled to have had such an amazing response in less than 24 hours.”

Want to submit? Awesome! Love Your Lines welcomes it. There are just a few guidelines they ask you to follow:

  1. Take the photo against a solid background, ideally in black underwear or a black bathing suit.
  2. Images shot with a camera phone are A-OK. If you access to a DSLR, that would be better; but no worries if you don’t.
  3. Leave off the filters and other editing effects
  4. Send the photo in the original size when you email it in. You can add a caption if you like.
  5. You don’t have to reveal your identity if you don’t want to.

Send ‘em to loveyourlines AT gmail DOT com. Because all bodies are cause for celebration.

Images: LoveYourLines/Instagram