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They’re often a mark of motherhood, but one that many of us don’t feel comfortable showing off. According to a study in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, more than half of all pregnant women will develop stretch marks, but according to the number of frumpy, thigh covering tankinis I ordered as a new mom, some of us still feel bad about them.


Luckily, Pakistani artist Sara Shakeel has brought her body positive art to Instagram, using glitter to highlight the beauty of stretch marks on a platform known for a curated, filtered version of beauty.

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Using collage techniques, Shakeel’s images show stretch marks as being filled in with glitter, highlighting a much maligned part of so many bodies. "Stretch marks are something I relate to on a very personal basis," Shakeel told Cosmopolitan after her photoshopped images went viral.

“Nothing is more powerful than giving confidence to myself along with so many women and men out there,” she wrote in a recent Instagram caption. “My hopes are unreal and so are my dreams! The stretch marks story will continue and I have so many other ideas and plans in mind.”

Hopefully, Shakeel’s message of body positivity will continue to spread, and women will feel confident in their skin even if that skin has a few lines. According to Dr. Frank Wang, a dermatologist at the University of Michigan Health System, I’m far from the only new mom to be excessively covered during baby’s first swim.

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“Stretch marks may compound the stress of new motherhood for many women,” Wang said after his study of stretch marks was published in the British Journal of Dermatology. “Some may feel like their self-esteem, quality of life and willingness to engage in certain activities, like swimming in a bathing suit, are affected.”

We can’t let our quality of life be impacted by something that impacts so many mothers. Next time I look at my stretch marks I’m going to try to see them the way Shakeel does: Full of glitter and beauty.

Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:


Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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