24-year-old, UK-based fashion and portrait photographer Sophie Mayanne is the artist behind the photography project called “Behind the Scars.” This project celebrates the tumbles and victories behind every scar by capturing them in a different light through a series of photos showcasing them as wonderful imperfections. Sophie’s vision is to reveal the uniqueness of every scar in that they come in different shapes and sizes but also each one carries its own compelling story.
The “Behind the Scars” project encompasses self-love and self-empowerment. Sophie explains,
“Behind The Scars is a celebration of beauty, of flaws, of battles won and obstacles overcome. It is about survival, living beyond that and capturing the memories. It is truly an honest depiction of how our history, shown through these scars does not define us but compels us.”
Within this portfolio, Sophie invites people to embrace the beauty in what society sees as a flaw. Scars are personal and accepting them isn’t an easy perspective to have but with this project, Sophia aims to show the world that scars are beautiful because they’re part of someone’s history– they’re a triumphant badge, a symbol of recovery from an illness, or even marks of past or current personal struggles.
In a video with Zoomin.TV, Sophie shares part of her mission with the Behind the Scenes Project:
“I would like to change society’s perception of body but it’s not something that will happen overnight. I’m just one person and once I can do my best to reach as many people as possible, hopefully it’ll create a domino effect.”
Sophie hopes that this project inspires people to embrace their scars and other physical imperfections. She says,
“If these images help us to think differently about scarring, and for those that “wear” these scars, to look differently at not only the imperfections, but the individuality these marks might engender, then for me, I would deem the project a success.”
Here are some of our favorite photos from Sophie Mayanne’s Behind the Scars project.
Ronnie obtained this scar before he even turned one. “When I was six months old I had an operation on my stomach to move everything upwards about 3 inches as I had a gap in my oesophagus.”
Ronnie “When I was six months old I had an operation on my stomach to move everything upwards about 3 inches as I had a gap in my oesophagus. Other scars I have are from feeding tubes. The one that stands out is from a feeding tube I had pulled out myself, which is why it has healed like it has.” #behindthescars More from the series soon
Ashleigh’s scars are a result self-harm since she was a young girl. “I’ve struggled with self harm since I was 8. For as long as I can remember, my emotions have been very intense, this was one of the ways I learnt to cope.”
#behindthescars Ashleigh “I’ve struggled with self harm since I was 8. For as long as I can remember, my emotions have been very intense, this was one of the ways I learnt to cope. I have been stuck wearing long sleeves regardless of the weather. The appearance of my arms is one of my biggest secrets. Learning to embrace my scars and accept them as part of me is a major step. I also feel that hiding them away perpetuates the feeling of guilt/shame. “
Isabella got caught in a house fire that burned her skin. “My scars and scar tissue continue to change, but I have never felt more beautiful.”
Andrea acquired the scars all over her body from multiple events in her life. “The scars on my left arm and face were given to me by a deranged person out for revenge, the worst part it was not meant for me.”
#behindthescars Andrea “My first scars arrived at 14, whilst playing a chasing game with friends. I jumped over the wall, but the wall moved and I ended up scarring both of my legs. For years I’ve been paranoid about showing them and only wore trousers. The scars on my left arm and face were given to me by a deranged person out for revenge, the worst part it was not meant for me. I got caught up in a fight where the person had a glass in her hand whilst punching me. I was only aware of it when blood was pouring from my face. I didn’t notice my arm until I looked down to see my arm opened up like a butterfly chicken. I now love me for me, ever since I started Focusing On Creating my Ultimate Self.” @andreacorbett_ photographed in London, UK
Therryi’s scars are a result of an iron falling on her left hand and later a skin graft to fix the area. “I’ve had limited use of my left hand for over 25 years. The skin graft was taken from my hip which healed as Keloid skin, leaving me with two lifetime scars.”
#behindthescars Therryi “My scar on my hand has been with me my entire life. At age 1, my sister left the iron unattended and it dropped on my hand. The temporary nurse at the hospital bandaged my two fingers up – as a result, they sealed together and I needed skin graft surgery. I’ve had limited use of my left hand for over 25 years. The skin graft was taken from my hip which healed as Keloid skin, leaving me with two lifetime scars.” @therryijay photographed in London, UK
Cari went through a spinal fusion surgery that left a scar going down her back. “I have two 12″ metal roads and 12 metal screws all down my spine. I think it’s made me hyper aware how our physical health impacts our mental health.”
#behindthescars Cari “This is the scar I got from spinal fusion surgery when I was 15 in September 2013, to correct my scoliosis. I have two 12″ metal roads and 12 metal screws all down my spine. I think it’s made me hyper aware how our physical health impacts our mental health.” @cari.ad photographed in London, UK.
Sigita’s scar next to her lip comes from a treatment she received when she was a month old. “I was born with Hemangioma, it was treated when I was a 1 month old baby. Treatment involved Liquid Nitrogen. So I have been left with a scar.”
Michelle’s inspiring journey bore the campaign #scarrednotscared. “I’ve had 15 surgeries, a brain tumour, a punctured intestine, an obstructed bowel, a cyst in my brain and a condition called Hydrocephalus. I grew up without realizing my body was different until one day I wore a bikini and was met with looks of pity and shock.
#behindthescars Michelle “I’ve had 15 surgeries, a brain tumour, a punctured intestine, an obstructed bowel, a cyst in my brain and a condition called Hydrocephalus. I grew up without realising my body was different until one day I wore a bikini and was met with looks of pity and shock. I thought the solution was to hide them and never talk about them, but in fact, what helped me was the exact opposite. When I was 21, I finally started embracing my scars and accepting my body for what it does. In celebration of that I launched a campaign called #scarrednotscared because I knew I couldn’t be alone. I didn’t want anyone to feel isolated in their struggles with physical illness and chronic pain, and it became the perfect platform to remove the shame around our scars and our bodies in general.” Head to Michelle’s page to find out more about her and some of the fantastic articles she writes. @scarrednotscared as seen on @dazed
Louisa is a survivor of a serious car accident. “I have complete amnesia of the accident, so the scars are sort of the only visual representation of what happened.”
#behindthescars Louisa “My scarring is from emergency operations following a serious road traffic incident, where I was the front seat passenger in an old 70s Beetle 10 years ago. The injuries I sustained were a fracture in my left foot, both tibias, right femur, dislocated left hip, both arms were fractured and also my top rib and jaw. I was pretty much bed bound for 6 months. I have complete amnesia of the accident, so the scars are sort of the only visual representation of what happened.” @louisamayman photographed in London, UK
Cristina’s scar comes from a 9cm hydatid cyst on her liver. “It did bother me in the beginning, but I remember one day my brother told me that it looks really cool and it makes my belly special.”
#behindthescars “I had a hydatid cyst on my liver, and had the surgery when I was 14. That year was definitely not my year. From what I know about it, it was a tapeworm that I probably got from playing with dogs and not washing my hands after. I read that it grows 2-3cm per year, and mine was 8-9cm when I had the surgery, so quite big. It did bother me in the beginning, but I remember one day my brother told me that it looks really cool and it makes my belly special. I think that’s when I started liking it. I wouldn’t change it, or the experience for nothing. It was hard going through it (hospital, eating yoghurts for two weeks, not being allowed to shower or getting out of bed by myself), but it made me stronger” @cristina_diaconu photographed in London, UK
Ellen learned to embrace the scars from a condition she had since birth. “I have scarring and stretch marks on my left leg due to the condition Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency (PFFD), a condition I was born with.”
#behindthescars Ellen “I have scarring and stretch marks on my left leg due to the condition Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency (PFFD), a condition I was born with. This meant going through multiple operations at a young age. I have started to feel confident about my scars in the last few years, accepting them and embracing them.” @ell_en_
Abi is a cancer survivor. “They had to hit the cancer hard, as it spreads like wildfire, so they had a gruelling treatment plan which was made up of 12 months undergoing 68 chemotherapies.”
#behindthescars Abi “I was diagnosed with a rare and extremely aggressive form of cancer called Osteosarcoma when I was 27 years old. Doctor’s think that I had the tumour since I was 26. My right arm was aching whilst I was sleeping – everyone I would chop vegetables, and get dressed. I went to see a chiropractor – he moved my arm around and I screamed very loudly. He just said that I had damaged my muscle and said I was very dramatic. Unknown to him, what lay behind my “dramatic” scream was something quite sinister. I was living in South Africa, Cape Town and had recently received my visa to live there. I was working with ant-sex trafficking victims and supporting abused women and children. I had just started helping out at a support group, when one of the girls approached me and said “Hey, you don’t know me very well, but I wanted to let you know that I’ve had 3 vivid dreams about you in a row now. In them you come to my house, and when I wake up I feel God’s presence, so I really feel that you need to come to my house.” I’m quite a spiritual person, and had dreams in my childhood that had come true, so I thought I’d go and see her. The day I went to her house she wasn’t actually in. as I was walking out of her courtyard, I had a sense that her dog was going to go for me. The dog looked chilled, so I just shut the gate and as I put my hand through the gate to lock it, I heart the dog bark, and jump up to bite m, so I gently jumped back and my arm completely snapped as I landed. My friend took me to the Doctors. I was sent for a scar and it showed that I had a very clean break. The Doctor’s face dropped when she saw my scan. she booked me in to see another Doctor the next morning. I was in so much pain I didn’t really question why I was seeing another Doctor. When I saw him the following morning he asked me a lot of the typical cancer questions – Have you lost weight, have you passed blood, and so on. He said something had been eroding my bone- my heart was pounding thinking of all the things it could possibly be. He then said those dreaded words that literally took my breath away – you most probably have cancer. Continued in comments
Gemma is a perfect example of someone who’s learned to fully embraced her scars. “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.”
#behindthescars Gemma “My body is littered with scars from troubles 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…” shot on @huaweimobileuk P10 for @dazed #RevealTheRealYou @gemmabanks
Lucia was born with five holes in her heart. “To have an open heart is a true gift in life, and I’m lucky enough to have been opened 3 times.”
#behindthescars Lucia “I was born with five holes in my heart and have been wearing my zipper since I was 2 weeks old. I had my second lot of open heart surgery at 2 years old and my third lot at 26 (6 months ago!) because my heart was too big. Oh the irony of having a big heart – physically and metaphorically! I have truly been on a heart journey my whole life, and my scars are a reminder that I am strong and can do anything. When I was little my parents did the worrying for me, but having my 3rd lot of surgery this year, I have really understood the strength and beauty of my scar. It’s me! To have an open heart is a true gift in life, and I’m lucky enough to have been opened 3 times. I used to not even be able to say the word scar- as if it was something evil and ugly, but now I see it as a beautiful word. The older I get, the more honoured I feel to be a part of the exclusive “zipper club” and yes, as a woman, it has been hard wearing a scar down the middle of my chest, by my breasts. (one of the sexiest parts of your body!) – but the way I see it is that I’m so abstract, Picasso would want to paint me!” @luccidarling