People Are Unapologetically Baring Their Scars In This Stunning Photo Series

"My scars tell my story, and I’m never going to let anyone else’s thoughts or opinions change that."

Our bodies are like blank canvases, collecting various strokes and sketches as time goes on. Every dimple, wrinkle, and scar tells a story about where we've been, and what we've gone through. United Kingdom-based fashion and portrait photographer Sophie Mayanne, 24, is helping to share those stories with her current photo project, Behind The Scars

The project features photographs of dozens of individuals and showcases the beauty of their scars. The project aims to create a safe space for participants to feel confident with their scars, tell their stories, and to normalize the appearance of scars. 

"People consider scars as flaws, when, actually, they're part of people's history," Mayanne explained in a video presenting the project

You can never define a scar by its appearance, as many come along with different stories. Some subjects featured in the series explain that their scars are from injuries or surgery. Others tell entirely different stories about how they earned their scars. 

"I have experienced mental health problems since my early teens," said Carmela, a woman featured in the series, whose scars are the result of self-harm." I have used unhealthy coping strategies including self-harm, but I do not feel ashamed of the marks I have been left with anymore. They are not ugly or beautiful, they are just part of my body and should be able to exist, and move around the world without intrusive stares or questions. I know I have reached my lowest, and I guess my scars are a reminder of that, but they don't make me feel sad."

Stories such as Carmela's have been especially inspiring to viewers who find comfort in the strength and transparency of the people in the photographs. 

The above video is courtesy of our partners.

"WOW! You are so strong and AMAZING!!! Thank-you for sharing your story, which helps others believe that their own recovery is possible. Sending love," said one Instagram user.

"You are certainly not damaged. You are strong and beautiful. And perfectly imperfect as we all are. All the best," said another.

For some people, embracing their scars means transforming them into something totally different. Scar tattoos are a popular way of hiding or enhancing scars with art. But this project shows that whether you decorate your scars, or flaunt them as is, it's important to find your own strength, and to recognize the beauty of your body, no matter what state it's in. 

More photographs from Behind the Scars, along with each subject's personal narrative, can be found on Mayanne's Instagram page. Check out a few below. 

"I started self-harming when I was 13 and have struggled with it ever since. The issue with self harming is it gets progressively worse and you end up doing more and more damage to yourself than you think is possible when you first start. It truly is an addiction and you get to a point where surgeons tell you that plastic surgery can't fix the appearance of the scars, so the only thing you can do is love your scars so much that all the negative connections that come along with self-harm slowly disappear, along with all the pain attached to the scars. 

My scars tell my story, and I'm never going to let anyone else's thoughts or opinions change that. "  

- Chloe  

"Today I am a little angry at the world. I'm angry that it's been two years and two days and I still don't feel complete. I have been cut up and then stitched and stapled, but today I don't feel whole. I'm angry that my memories and dreams of what happened blend together with the present. It's two years and two days and today I don't feel OK. But I will. " 

-Isabella

A post shared by SOPHIE MAYANNE (@sophiemayanne) on

"My scars are from a fire-related domestic abuse. I got burnt at the age of 29, and it's been a difficult journey coming to terms with it. The comfort I take from my scars is they make me who I am today. I call them my most precious, and expensive piece of jewelry I own. 
I have survived and if having my picture taken, and exposing my scars can help anyone else then that's good for me!."

- Mercy

"When I was young, I pulled a cup of hot boiling tea off the counter. As a result, it burnt my left shoulder down to my left breast and stomach. My scar has been with me since I was 11 months old. it is all I know. I don't even remember my body without a scar. I have my confident days where I say "It's just a scar." I'm sure everyone has a scar. I've definitely had my bad days, but only when I meet a new face and they stare at it in disgust. It makes me think OMG is there something on my body? And then I remember 'the burn' lol. I wear this scar because it is a part of me. It's just a scar."

- Bintu 

"My body is littered with scars from troubled times. For a long time it felt like a battleground. 

My relationship with my body and it's scars hasn't been an easy one. Yes, as I have grown older I have become less inclined to give a shit what people think. I have come to see my body as a wonderful gift - it is uniquely mine, it has taught me things nothing else could, it is resilient and it is beautiful. My body and I are now an army and my scars an exquisite reminder of my strength. 

Being a part of Behind The Scars feels like being in a safe space where Sophie allows all our stories and scars merge to create something empowering, joyful and deeply healing. Today I feel like I can show myself …"

- Gemma

"My tumor changed my life in so many ways. A life-changing operation to remove the tumor, 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 tumor. It was benign, but sizable. 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." 

A Plus has reached out to Sophie Mayanne for comment. 

(H/T: Self)

Cover image via Instagram / @sophiemayanne

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