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This Photographer Is Asking People To Share Their Scar Stories To Break The Stigma

This Photographer Is Asking People To Share Their Scar Stories To Break The Stigma
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6 months ago

UK photographer Sophie Mayanne has been working on a project for some time called "Behind the Scars," in which she photographs people's scars and shares the stories behind them. Mayanne told Bored Panda that she's always been drawn to "raw, un re-touched" photos, and that's what compelled her about the subject—not trying to hide people's perceived "flaws."

“When I first started the project, I remember saying that if I could make a difference to at least one person, then I have succeeded. As the project has grown, I just hope it will reach more people, and continue to have a positive impact," she said.

Mayanne said many people enter a bit shy and unsure, as often folks learn to hide their scars or feel insecure about them. But in front of Mayanne's camera, they open up.

“The response has been really positive - and seeing yourself through a photographer's eyes can be a powerful experience,” said Mayanne. “For some people the experience of the photoshoot can be very therapeutic - as they may have not shared their experiences before, and for others they are consolidating their new found love of their scars - and body.”

Some share specifics of what caused their scars, while some simply want to enter the safe space Mayanne has created to share themselves:

Leo explained how he is judged by his scars. He had an accident climbing a fence, but finds people often assume he was in some sort of knife fight:

Felicity had several malignant melanomas at a young age, and sees her scars with gratitude for the fact that they were caught and operated on early:

Jamie's scars have been with them since almost the beginning:

Bintu has also had hers since she was a baby and doesn't remember a time without it:

Hannah has scars caused by self-harm and a condition that causes lesions:

#behindthescars Hannah "My body is a merry-go-round of scars - new ones arrive, choose a pitch and nest amongst the constellation etched into my skin. In time, some will fade until I can’t even remember the first time I pressed my finger to puckered flesh and welcomed them to the gang. There are self-harm scars that go back further than I care to remember, some so faint I forget that they’re there until a fluorescent changing room light flickers them into view, others stark with mottled tissue. There are skin biopsy bubbles, surgery scars and a tapestry of tokens from happy drunken mishaps that I will never forget. It’s a canvas that, by and large, I have come to accept, laugh at and learn from. The deepest layer of scarring, however, always been the trickiest to tame. The scars that ripple across my body are an unexchangeable gift from an autoimmune disease called morphea. The nature of the disease means my skin will probably never stop acquiring these new buddies; instead, they’ll come and go in shades of “fuck you”. There are old bruises slowly fading into a web on my stomach from the first two bouts, calcified white patches that are reaching fever pitch and shiny lesions that have only just stirred. If they were static I’m sure I’d be further along in learning to love all of the skin I’m in, but their tempestuous nature makes them hard to ignore. Some days they are so sensitive a brush of fabric can send shivers down my spine and showering has turned into an odd dance I never fancied learning - jumping from sensitivity to hot water, then cold water and then to scrubbing. Although - with a little push and an attempt to see them from a true outsiders perspective - I am learning to love each one as they arrive. They are a part of me: each freckle, mole, scar, tattoo, bruise, and lesion is threaded into the rainbow suit of skin I’m in. So, I’m going to embrace each new stripe because they are a reminder of every battle I’ve fought in this body. As I collect new scars, I will learn to navigate each and every evolution as it arises. " @hannahshewanstevens

A post shared by SOPHIE MAYANNE (@sophiemayanne) on

Elijah also has scars from self-harm, but he celebrates the one on his chest from top surgery; they represent part of his transition and living in his gender identity:

Rachel thought she'd be talking about a different scar, but ended up discussing the acne scars on her face:

#behindthescars Rachel “Funnily enough I came to the shoot to showcase a different scar, but then changed my mind and thought I’d show the scars that really affect me. My acne scars. I suffered from I guess what you would call mild acne since I was a teenager, and although it’s cleared up since, I’ve been left with all the marks. I know some people may look at my skin and think “what’s the big deal, I’ve seen worse.”. So many people would always say that “It’ll clear up in time” or that “it’s just your age” or imply that I should “get over it” - but to anyone that’s suffered with bad skin, you know it’s not that easy. It’s difficult to understand the physcological effects that acne scars can have. For the longest time, I was so conscious of my skin that I wouldn’t go out without makeup and would literally spend tonnes on remedy beauty buys. Only now that my skin has improved have I gained my self confidence back, and begun to love and accept the skin I am in. It’s not perfect, and it may never be, but it can only get better, and most importantly I’ve got over it! The scar you see in the middle of my forehead is known as my Harry Potter scar, which, to be honest doesn’t really bother me at all. Maybe it’s because it has been dubbed with a cool name, or because I’ve had it for so long that it’s just become a part of me.” @rachelsomadina photographed in London. to support #behindthescars trip to NYC click the link in my bio!

A post shared by SOPHIE MAYANNE (@sophiemayanne) on

Hebe says the operation to correct her scoliosis made her appreciate her body just for functioning:

Sigita forgets the scar on her face until people ask her about it:

Isabella survived a house fire in 2015:

Adele had a rare form of bone cancer and is still facing more operations:

Mayanne's work is a moving tribute to the struggles people face both externally and internally, and how it makes them even more beautiful.

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