While some may view scars as imperfections, others see these marks as something to be celebrated. Enter: Behind the Scars. An Instagram account devoted in its entirety to challenging our perception of “flaws.”
Launched by British photographer Sophie Mayanne, the account features photographs of over a hundred men and women proudly showing off what many would consider as disfigurements – from missing digits to burned skin, to wounds that have healed following major surgery. Some blemishes are a result of a traumatic life event, while others are merely a memory of childhood.
But while the stories behind the snaps vary, the premise behind the project is simple: we should embrace our scars rather than hide them.
#behindthescars Bintu “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." @missmurad
#behindthescars Elijah “In one way or another, my scars are all self-inflicted. The scars from self harm cover the tops of my legs, and hints are on my arm. I am a trans man and started medically transitioning a year and a half ago. Last may, 2016, I had top surgery (double mastectomy) to remove my breasts. These scars are my new chest, the chest I have always wanted. They are my gender, my identity. I can’t remember having any other chest now. I have been liberated. These scars represent so much of what I have experienced.” @eliwharriz
#behindthescars Isabella "Today I am a little angry at the world. I'm angry that it's been 2 years and 2 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 2 years and 2 days and today I don't feel okay. But I will. " @fauxnandes
#BehindTheScars Billy "At 18 I was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer that predominately affects young people. Before my diagnosis I had never heard of Ewings and had no idea how much it would impact my life. Part of the treatment process involved having my femur replaced with titanium which resulted in a scar the length of my thigh. I often felt as if the scar would remain a constant trigger of the times I spent sick to my stomach in hospital, but I'm gradually learning to view them as symbols of health, recovery and a chance at a long life. I can now zoom out and see more than a sick body, but a person even more motivated in life than before." @billy_clayton
#behindthescars Deborah "My body is full of scars that represent my cancer journey. Each one is a war wound that has meant I have faced cancer and kicked it head on! At first I hated my scars, but as time has gone on I've learnt to love them. I suggest we carry our scars with pride, knowing they have built us rather than defied us. 7 months ago my life was turned upside down when I was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer. People say I'm brave to be going through what I am, but I'm not – I just have no other choice. I'm still me, I can still be sexy, I can still have fun – cancer doesn't need to define me." @bowelbabe
Mayanne first came up with the inspiring concept whilst working on an editorial piece for Petrie magazine last year.
“Each person had varying feelings towards their scars, and how they felt in front of the camera,” she told The Independent. “This series isn’t just about the photographs but about embracing each person’s individual experiences and feelings, and understanding their personal stories.”
Now, she hopes her work will encourage others to spread body positivity and love the skin they are in.
“If I can change just one person’s opinion or help someone who is battling with their own self-image, then for me the project is a success,” she said.
“I want people to be able to identify with the images, to see an array of different people and maybe think ‘I have imperfections too, but they make me who I am.’”
Now, this is an initiative to get behind.
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