Men and women are celebrating their scars in the most empowering way on social media – and we are so here for it.
The new campaign, Behind The Scars, is a photography campaign that celebrates scars of all shapes and sizes, and the incredible stories behind them.
The series was captured by Sophie Mayanne and began in April 2017. Since then, Sophie has captured 300 scar portraits and stories – encouraging many men, women and children all over the world to embrace the skin they are in. What a brilliant idea!
Speaking to GLAMOUR about the series, Sophie said: “The series depicts portraits that are both beautiful and empowering, alongside moving stories that capture each sitter’s unique, raw and emotionally fraught experiences.
“From surgical scars to accidents – each photo is an act of defiance, self-love, worth and positivity.”
Here are some of the badass pictures from the series with the candid tales behind each scar…
#behindthescars Bianca ” My keloid scars developed after I had severe acne on my face, back and chest. I was prescribed tablets to clear the acne but unfortunately they turned some acne spots into keloids. Since the age of 13 I’ve had multiple injections and I’m now going through surgery to try and flatten the scars on my face even though keloids are known to grow back. Keloids itch and burn and cause pain on a daily basis. They’ve stopped me from living my life, wearing certain clothing and caused anxiety and depression. Sometimes people don’t realise how scars/skin condition can ruin an individuals mental health. From the nasty comments I have received, I have now realised life’s too short to care what people think. I am starting to try love my skin and to believe I am unique. This is the beginning of my journey to become free from negativity and to regain a positive mind set” @biancahoneybeex
Behind The Scars: Frankie “An oil drum full of boiling oil erupted next to me, trapping me in the corner of a unit. I spent the last couple of years in and out of hospital being treated for full thickness and partial thickness burns, having skin grafts, physiotherapy and surgery to re construct my scars. Recovery is long and tough, both mentally and physically, I am very lucky to have a few incredible people in my life who have been my rock and loved me at my most unloveable moments. Being at war with your body is not easy but with time, determination and a lot of love my skin has healed in a way I never could have imagined. My body is scattered with scars now but I have learnt to love them and wear them with pride. They continue to change, as I do with them. They tell my story and have taught me more than I could of ever imagined. Some things are only skin deep.” @frankie.benbow
Behind The Scars: Rime “I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2017, age 37. It was no huge surprise to be another stat, coming from a public health background, I was very much aware that breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and it’s on the increase among women under 50’s. Sadly, it is also on the increase among men. Although an outrageous amount of money has been invested in cancer treatments over many years – it has become a very profitable industry – very little in comparison has been invested in the root causes of the alarming increase in various cancers. So although, I am grateful breast cancer can be treated and survival rates have improved. I feel imposed to be grateful, and I certainly did not lightly decide to choose the imposed medical treatment pathway, as I knew the extent of all the side effects and the fact my body will no longer be the same again and neither will I be. However, with such diagnoses, it is no longer just about you, but it is also about the feelings of your loved ones around you. So with some hesitation, I opted for a one breast mastectomy with immediate reconstructive breast surgery using my own tummy tissue. I was, in and out of hospital with a slowly failing reconstructive breast which in the end had to be completely removed as it was delaying my chemotherapy treatment. This has left me with several scars which will continue to evolve as my body will keep changing, and I have several further operations in the next couple of years. I am currently half way through my chemotherapy treatment, so I am very much in the midst of my breast cancer treatment pathway/journey. Its been nice hearing different people’s journeys. I have always been body and nudity confident, but I have to admit I am very much still adjusting to my changed and ever changing body. I hope one day, I will reflect on this testing journey and grow from this stronger and more insightful. I am not sure how I feel about my scars right this moment in time… Continued in comments @rimehadri
Behind The Scars: Tulsi “2006. What seemed like a simple blood test at my GP surgery soon turned into my life changing again! I got diagnosed with end stage renal failure. I was going to die! That’s all I concluded as Icouldn’t process what my consultant was telling me. 24 hour of lying in one position post biopsy was painful but hearing that my kidneys were failing sent me into a shock. All I wanted to do was complete my degree. I don’t want to quit now! 4 months post diagnosis I was on peritoneal dialysis. Everything was happening so fast, from severe metallic taste in my mouth to suddenly training to use my machine every night at home! I was so exhausted all the time and suffered from nausea daily. This was due to the toxins building up. I had a catheter surgically fitted into my adnominal region. This is where I was connecting to my machine every night for 8 hours. My spare bedroom became a store room for all the fluids and cleaning items. The first few months were difficult as I was always fatigued. I managed to attend university and deferred my dissertation to the following year as I couldn’t cope with it all. Before I plugged myself to the machine I would place my text books and laptop on my bed so I could complete my assignments and revision.I managed to complete my degree with a 2:1 which was amazing! January 2009 I got a phone call at 1am from the hospital informing me that a kidney became available. I was in the midst of renovating my house during this period so my mind was on meeting with the builders and architect. I asked the doctor when can I let him know, surely they can keep the kidney for a few days!!! He said you have 5 minutes to decide, it would be a shame to let it go as it’s a near perfect match! So I guess it was a yes!! I was sure I’d be discharged soon after the operation so I could get back to the renovations… 4 days in hospital recovering from the transplant I felt ready to tackle the world again. However when I got home something didn’t feel right – surely it must be the post operation pain. I couldn’t sleep or sit, suddenly my bed was the worst place and I was angry all the time. Continued in comments. @tulsidivalove
BEHIND THE SCARS: DINORA “I would say that I’m quite an emotional person. I didn’t get to talk about feelings whilst growing up, and I hit breaking point during my teens when the problems started to pile up without dealing with them. I found this method to replace my emotional pain with physical pain. In sheer shock of what I was doing to myself, I became numb, and it became my comfort – a way to escape. I later learned how to understand myself and my emotions. Many things became clearer to me with help from therapy. I found my way of dealing with all aspects of life – by writing.”
BEHIND THE SCARS: Jade “Hello my name is Jade and I am 24 years old. I have several different conditions which have resulted in different surgeries. I have 2 scars on my stomach, which I’ve had for 11 years. When I was younger I used to be very self-conscious of them. I used to believe that they defined me and made me an unattractive person. My outlook on my scars has altered drastically as I have gotten older. I can’t say that I love them, but I accept me for me now – and I do not think of them in a negative way anymore. I think that, as I have matured, I have learnt to accept that I can not change them. They are part of my history and show how much I have been through – and I am still around to tell the stories! I no longer try to impress people, as I did as a teenager – and only strive to make myself happy. I think it is important for people to see that there are many kinds of beautiful, and not one set standard. I hope that this campaign will open people’s eyes to this. I also hope that it empowers there people to see that they are beautiful just the way they are.” @zebedee_management
BEHIND THE SCARS: SYLVIA “Aged 3 I was severely burned in boiling water, leaving me fighting for my life. I had 3rd + 4th degree burns to my back, legs and stomach. I spent many years having skin grafts and Z-plasty surgery. I was told I was ugly and wouldn’t have boyfriends or get married. Other people (adults) told me I was beautiful, but I didn’t believe them. I went through school, work and relationships feeling depressed and sad – often hiding away. Last year I released a video baring my scars and created Love Disfigure. Love Disfigure raises awareness for other people with disfigurement. I accept and love my body, embracing everything about me.” @love_disfigure #behindthescars #burns #survivor
Behind The Scars: Amara “I’ve suffered with severe eczema since I was 18. It’s always affected me both physically and mentally. From being unable to sleep, to painful sex and feeling like I constantly have to cover up. It’s an incredibly hard condition to deal with both for me, and friends and family. I can’t explain how difficult it is to deal with – knowing you’ve caused the scratches on your skin thanks to five minutes of orgasmic scratching. What it has made me appreciate is how beautiful I am without eczema. What I need to learn now is how to accept myself with eczema. I’ve met some amazing friends through this condition, people who understand what it’s like for skin to completely control your thoughts. I’m actually going to see a dermatologist soon so hopefully I’ll receive some answers. I watch what I eat. I’m completely against steroids and I meditate constantly – I really hope I get some answers.” @amarahowe
BEHIND THE SCARS: Sarah “I have multiple self harm scars on my body, the most noticeable of which is a long scar up the side of my right leg. I have a fraught relationship with them – they simultaneously remind me of what I have survived, and how much of an uphill crawl it has been to be here, but also how painful that fight was, and continues to be. Mental health is, by definition, difficult. It is ugly, and bloody and a real brawl – and my scars are a physical manifestation of that. I used to lie and create florid stories about where they came from, but more recently I’ve stopped doing that. Why should I be ashamed of something that is fundamental proof of how I have clung on too living? Why should I hide something that is an inherent, raw part of myself? Scars are scares, and scars mean you survived.” @nineofswords
#behindthescars Katie #behindthescars Katie I was diagnosed with Disc Degenerative Disease (DDD) when I was 15years old. This was due to having extreme shooting pains in my right leg that was later diagnosed as Sciatica, which was caused by a large prolapsed disc and spinal stenosis in my lumbar spine pushing on my sciatic nerve, I was also diagnosed with Hypermobility. I’m one of the youngest in the UK to be diagnosed with this condition, I was just very unlucky. It gave me excruciating back pain and leg pain. It would feel numb and as if you had a “dead leg”. This meant I would fall over a lot due to the weakness from the constant pressure on my nerve in my leg. I was unable to bend forward of lift my leg whilst lying down. My GP didn’t believe I had this condition at first as it was so uncommon for my age. I had my first procedure when I was 16years old, I had a Microdiscectomy. Followed by a procedure called a spinal instrumented posterolateral fusion and revisional decompression when I was 22. The spinal fusion involves removing the rest of the disc and then take bone from my hip which would be placed in the space the disc was originally in and then rods and screws were fitted to make sure it was all in place. Unfortunately for me I woke up paralysed from the waist down, still today I have lost all feeling in my big toe and second toe with limited feeling in my foot and loss of feeling in the front of my leg. Learning how to walk again, I looked like bambi in ice, to this day I can not describe the feeling. I now rely on crutches and a wheelchair to get about. There is no cure for my conditions only little procedures to try ease my pain with varied success rates. I like my scar it proves I’m a little warrior, I fought a big battle of learning to walk again over 6 months of rehabilitation and won. I’m proud of my scar and it’s much more than a scar it changed my life. I had to learn to totally adjust my life, affecting Uni, work, friends, everything. The mad thing is that I’m kind of glad it happened as I can honestly say I’m a better person for it. Story Continued in comments! @katieknowles1
#behindthescars Yasmin “My tumour changed my life in so many ways. A life changing operation to remove the tumour, the size of a grapefruit gave me self acceptance on a level that was truly unconditional. In 2012 I was diagnosed with non Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Cancer wasn’t an issue, what was was the discovery of a huge tumour. It was benign, but sizeable. Attached to my liver, a bunch of nerves and my main artery to my leg. Five hours of surgery, a deflated hung, my diaphragm put on halt, a bypass with my insides out on a table. My fear going into surgery was the long term affects and how my body would recover. Will my boyfriend still love me, will he still find me attractive, will any man find me acceptable to look at? The truth was, it taught me to love myself hard, without compromise. Inside and out, there was a journey of total acceptance. My amazing body had not failed me yet, so who was I to not love it back for keeping me alive? The message is simple – we are provided with a beautiful vessel to carry our soul. It works so hard to support us daily – the love I have for my body is insurmountable. It allows me to be my glorious self – I am a very lucky girl.” @missyasminibrahim
For more information on this amazing series, visit Sophie’s website.