‘Behind The Scars’ is the photo series showing the human face behind every scar

It is often the very thing that makes up our constitution that we try to fight against. We put on makeup, buy new clothes, dye our hair and listen to different music in order to reappropriate what we consider our true identity. But you can’t change your body. And you can’t change your scars.

Behind the Scars is the ongoing photo project created by Sophie Mayanne, which exposes the unique stories of our scars. “I have always been fascinated, even at a young age, in what makes us different from each other, in our own uniqueness,” Sophie tells Konbini.

“My scar doesn’t bother me at all, I forget it is there until someone else brings it up.” Miriam (Photo: Sophie Mayanne)

“I think it’s made me hyper-aware how our physical health impacts our mental health.” Cari (Photo: Sophie Mayanne)

“We turn no one away”

The project began as an editorial for Petrie magazine last year, and is still growing. “We turn no one away,” Sophie told The Independent. Since the initial publication, the photographer has received an incredible volume of responses, with people from all walks of life wanting to tell their stories.

“I am more often than not in awe at their resilience and acceptance and how they have overcome their struggles and obstacles,” Sophie explains. From surgeries to self-harm, no scar tells the same story, and Sophie’s project delves into the person that defines the scar – as opposed to it being the other way round.

“Scars are generally seen as something to be ashamed of or hidden.  People stare or pity them or reel back in disgust, maybe only stopping briefly to wonder what happened.  I think it is important to give people a platform to explore and express themselves, and to embrace their beauty no matter what their history.

These stories are honest, truthful and compassionate and need to be told, alongside the images so that people understand that to be different does not mean you are not beautiful.  This project has given me a purpose as a photographer.”

Indeed, Behind the Scars conveys its importance not only through the visual snapshot of a person’s history, but also by giving people a voice to tell their story in words as well. Andrea, who partook in the series, explains her story of how her scars came to be:

“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,” she says. “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.” Andrea (Photo: Sophie Mayanne)

Beckie & Christina (Photo: Sophie Mayanne)

There is a human face behind every scar

“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,” Sophie told The Independent.

She explained that since the beginnings of Behind the Scars, she has received feedback from people affected by scarring, now confident to wear an outfit which shows their scar. But on top of giving confidence to those affected, the project has also challenged those without scars to think differently about what they see.

Sophie tells Konbini of a particularly memorable story she received:

“I was thanked for educating the writer on the fact that each scar is a story, that they are not just a commodity to be stared at, because people wear them.There is a human face behind every scar.”

You can keep up to date with Sophie’s work on her website. Have a look at the full series below:

“I am a trans man and started medically transitioning a year and a half ago. I had top surgery (double mastectomy) to remove my breasts. These scars are my new chest, the chest I have always wanted.” Elijah (Photo: Sophie Mayanne)

Frances & Hebe (Photo: Sophie Mayanne)

Ronnie & Maddie (Photo: Sophie Mayanne)

“I suggest we carry our scars with pride, knowing they have built us rather than defied us. I’m still me, I can still be sexy, I can still have fun – cancer doesn’t need to define me.” Deborah (Photo: Sophie Mayanne)

“In Summer 2015 I was in a house fire. My scars and scar tissue continue to change, but I have never felt more beautiful.” Isabella (Photo: Sophie Mayanne)

Silje & Ellen (Photo: Sophie Mayanne)

Ashleigh (Photo: Sophie Mayanne)

“When I was 21, I finally started embracing my scars and accepting my body for what it does. In celebration of that, I wore a bikini for the first time & launched a campaign called Scarred Not Scared because I knew I couldn’t be alone.” Michelle (Photo: Sophie Mayanne)

Claire & Louisa (Photo: Sophie Mayanne)

“They didn’t know that I didn’t have a mirror in my bedroom for a long time because I had smashed it one evening because I felt sick looking at my reflection. I used the broken pieces to cut myself.” Natasha (Photo: Sophie Mayanne)

“Three surgeries and two chemotherapy treatments later these are the scars I bear. Recently I was told the cancer had returned. Surprisingly I feel at peace.” Barbara (Photo: Sophie Mayanne)

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