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People Reveal Their Scars And How They Got Them In A Powerful Photo Project

Scars get a bad rap. They are often seen as ugly, dangerous, criminal and something to hide and be ashamed of. In popular culture, it’s the bad guys that have the scars.

It’s no wonder so many people feel self-conscious about them. Sophie Mayenne from London, England, is working to change these perceptions through her photography project ‘Behind The Scars,’ a series of poignant photographs of people, their scars and the stories behind them.

“As a photographer I have always been drawn to raw and un-retouched work, and what makes us different to one another – and this is where my interest in scars stems from,” Sophie told Bored Panda. “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.”

Her subjects, often insecure and vulnerable after years of hiding away their scars, as well as the psychological trauma that they can carry with them, have embraced her project enthusiastically. “The response has been really positive – and seeing yourself through a photographer’s eyes can be a powerful experience,” Sophie told us. “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.”

It seems that Sophie’s project is certainly having the positive impact that she set out to achieve, as people are inspired to tell their stories and shed the burden of insecurity. “As more people find out about the project – more people come forward,” She told Bored Panda. “I hope in the future to be able to make a book of the series – that people past and present can relate to.”

“These, in my opinion are some of the best, and most honest images I have ever taken.”

Scroll down to check out some of the photos from Sophie’s amazing and inspiring project, as well as short descriptions of the stories behind them. Let us know what you think in the comments!

More info: Website | Instagram

#1 MayaThe last few months have been extremely challenging as the condition of my skin as deteriorated massively. From 18 months old when I was diagnosed with epidermolysis bullosa to earlier this year I was able to live an almost normal life despite my skin, it was easy to hide and easy to manage. But earlier this year it started getting rapidly worse and I am now able to… Read More

#2 Mercy“My scars are from a fire related to 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 jewellery I own. I have survived and if having my picture taken, and exposing my scars… Read More

#3 Tracey“My name’s Tracey. I’m a 45 year old mother of two. In 2012, my GP diagnosed me with a common cold which drastically got worse. I was given cold medication which made me feel awful. I called 999 and someone came out to see me. They said everything was fine. Everything was fine for 40 minutes or so. I asked my daughter to make dinner, and then I went upstairs… Read More

#4 Agnes”In 1997 at the age of 7 i survived a gas explosion. I have undergone 27 reconstructive surgeries. I have always been comfortable with my scars, to me they are beautiful and they tell you different stories. They are special.”

#5 Megan“When I was 14 I rescued a stray horse called Fly, and I fell in love with him immediately. One morning, I was feeding the horses in the field (just like every other morning). Fly tried to kick another horse behind him, but missed and kicked me in the face, just below my left temple. At first I was shocked, I was young and alone in a field and covered… Read More

#6 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… Read More

#7 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… Read More

#8 Chloe“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,… Read More

#9 Sam“I played with a hand gun at age 14 and it gave me a lifetime in a wheelchair. But despite what you might think, I’ve never found a reason to be victimised by my condition. My spiritual and physical scars made me grow stronger, empowered. I wanted to be a tennis player, so I became a tennis player. I wanted to be a model, and guess what… I am… Read More

#10 Zuzanna“I was born without both radius. When I was one I had my first surgery on my right hand. One year later doctors decided to operate on my left hand. Two different doctors operated on my hands. The first operation went well. During the second operation, there were some complications. Doctors didn’t know that bones in my left hand are different from the ones in my right hand. When I was… Read More

#11 Isabella”In the summer of ’15 I was in a house fire. My clothes and way of life up in flames. I spent my summer in a burns unit on Fulham Road. My scars and scar tissue continue to change, but I have never felt more beautiful.”

#12 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… Read More

#13 Adele“In 2014, I was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma, a bone cancer. I had chemo for nearly a year and several surgeries for bone transplantations in my arm. They took pieces of bone from my leg and thigh. One time, my transplant broke, so I had a major surgery which took 8 hours. In two years I had 10 surgeries and I have one planned for November 2017.”

#14 Leo“When I was in my 20s, I was taking a short cut through the local park when I realised the gate had been locked. I decided to climb up over the railings and my footing slipped, catching my face in two places. The spikes passed through my face. Luckily the park attendant noticed what happened and called an ambulance. I feel like my looks were ruined by the accident, but… Read More

#15 Barbara”In 2014 I was diagnosed with angiosarcoma of the breast, a rare and aggressive cancer. Three surgeries and two chemotherapy treatments later these are the scars I bear. My recent operation was an innovative surgery which involved removal of my sternum and four ribs, which were replaced by surgical cement, muscle from my back and a skin graft. It took me a long time to finally embrace my scars. They… Read More

#16 Iris“I’ve become the strong and independent woman I am today because of my Mum, and because of what happened. It has all been a part of my journey. It started when I was 5 months old – whilst taking a nap, a fire started next to my bed and I lost two fingers. It took one year of recovery at the hospital, and 25 years to accept it. I went… Read More

#17 DavidScars on my left arm are from self harm over the past 7 years. Scar on the top right abdomen is the result of surgery to extract rib cartilage to reconstruct my left ear”

#18 Jessica“I was only 8 years old when I had a car accident. I was with my friend and her mother, sitting in the back seat of the car. I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. All of a sudden a car jumped out of nowhere, and came towards us. We crashed violently, the car flipping twice. Unfortunately I was the one who was injured badly – when the car was flipping,… Read More

#19 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… Read More

#20 Grace“I managed to make it from 1993 – 2014, to 21 years old having no health issues whatsoever. No broken bones, no serious illnesses – then suddenly, I was having brain surgery. I was so stupidly happy not to lose that much hair when I had my 2 operations, a year a part. I didn’t even lose much during radiotherapy. I do have this line now, all the way around… Read More

#21 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… Read More

#22 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… Read More

#23 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… Read More

#24 Jamie”I was born at 24 weeks, weighing 1 pound 11 ounces. The big scars across my stomach is where where my bowel had not fully developed properly resulting in tiny little holes across my intestine which caused septicaemia. The doctors described it as operating on a piece of spaghetti. The scar below it is a result of having an ileostomy bag. The star shaped scar under my armpit is… Read More

#25 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… Read More

#26 Nell“My scars were made whilst I was in a coma for 90 days. The scars on my face, neck and groin are there because I was on life support known as ECMO – my lungs had been devastated by a necrotising pneumonia and they had to stop me breathing – the ECMO oxygenated my blood and kept me alive for 66 days. The other round scars on my body are… Read More

#27 Hebe“I had surgery to correct my scoliosis last year. The experience of being in hospital and the recovery process was incredibly humbling. I have a new found respect for my body. It’s a practical body, it functions. I can run, dance, jump and I’m no longer preoccupied by “problem areas” like I used to be. I feel so liberated and lucky to have realised how great and capable my body… Read More

#28 Maxim

#29 Helen“I collapsed one day after graduating University and was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect (a hole in the heart). This was later repaired by open heart surgery in 2015, leaving me with this big “zipper” and 3 chest drain scars. In October 2016, after a successful recovery I suffered an unexplained heart malfunction that caused multiple blood clots and resulted with me struggling to walk, permanent damage to… Read More

#30 Deepshikha“I did not see myself before my scar – I have had it for as long as I can remember. I was 4 months old when I had a surgery to remove one of my spare kidneys. Yes, I was born with an extra one which was making me very ill. My mum says my scar was very tiny after they operated – probably because I was tiny over all…. Read More

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