Behind The Scars : People Reveal Their Scars And Their Stories

Photographer Sophie Mayenne from London, England, wants to change the way people perceive scars. To do so, the artist created a series of photos entitled “Behind The Scars”, which depicts striking portraits of people and their scars and how they got 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.”

“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.” Isabella
“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
“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
“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 a model. As a model of diversity, I work in the fashion industry representing people that have limitations but are not limited. They love, they fight, they win, they lose. They are real and my story helps them to see how beautiful and meaningful they are. All scars included.” Sam
“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 to lay down – and didn’t wake up. My daughter called 999 and her and my friend Chyle got in an ambulance to Kings College Hospital. When I awoke, I was confused. I did not recognise my daughter or friend. They ran a CT scan and found out I had two types of meningitis. I was put in an induced coma for a month. When I was awoken, I could not speak. My daughter came to see me daily – I could hear her but couldn’t reply which annoyed me. I later found they’d put feeding tubes down my throat – I was told that I kept trying to pull all of the tubes out. I was kept in intensive care for a further two months before having a heart attack. Whilst I had my heart attack, Doctors found a growth on my heart valve and a whole in my heart. They replaced my valve with a titanium one – which ticks like a little clock. After the operation they moved me back to the ICU, but this time I was in an isolated room because of the meningitis and recovery. After a month I was given a tracheostomy which allowed me to talk and communicate with Doctors, nurses and my family. For a while, I couldn’t speak properly and could only manage basic communication and small talk. I found it hard to understand others, but tried through one word answers. In April I was moved to Lewisham hospital’s neuro ward where the Doctors taught me the basics of counting, talking, walking, eating, drinking, washing and dressing. For the first month I could not walk properly so I was given a wheelchair – and then a zimmer frame to walk around the ward called “Frank Cooksey”. The cooks on the ward kept feeding me as I was a size 2-4 at the time – after weeks of walking around the ward, they let me walk around the hospital with family, friends and hospital staff.” Tracey
“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
“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 document my journey and the courage and strength I did not think I had. Recently I was told the cancer had returned. Surprisingly I feel at peace” Barbara
“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 I carried on as normal. People often think I’ve been in a knife attack or fight, so believe I’m a bad person.” Leo
“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 is.” Hebe
“Scars 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” David
“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.” Ellen
“When I was 9 I fell off a swing on holiday and broke my arm quite badly. Being in hospital on holiday was a pain, but I made friends with the other kids on my ward and we remained pen pals for sometime after. My scar doesn’t bother me at all, I forget it is there until someone else brings it up. ” Miriam
“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. As I grew, my scar grew with me – and so did my discomfort and embarrassment over it. It’s very much a personal journey, but I am fortunate to have support from special people. It’s taken me 34 years to come to terms with it – I haven’t got to the point where I can confidently wear a saree, or a two piece bikini without a care in the world, but hopefully – one day – I will get there soon!” Deepshikha
“Funnily enough I came to the shoot to showcase a different scar, but then changed my mind and thought I’d show the scars that really affect me. My acne scars. I suffered from I guess what you would call mild acne since I was a teenager, and although it’s cleared up since, I’ve been left with all the marks. I know some people may look at my skin and think “what’s the big deal, I’ve seen worse.”. So many people would always say that “It’ll clear up in time” or that “it’s just your age” or imply that I should “get over it” – but to anyone that’s suffered with bad skin, you know it’s not that easy. It’s difficult to understand the physcological effects that acne scars can have. For the longest time, I was so conscious of my skin that I wouldn’t go out without makeup and would literally spend tonnes on remedy beauty buys. Only now that my skin has improved have I gained my self confidence back, and begun to love and accept the skin I am in. It’s not perfect, and it may never be, but it can only get better, and most importantly I’ve got over it! The scar you see in the middle of my forehead is known as my Harry Potter scar, which, to be honest doesn’t really bother me at all. Maybe it’s because it has been dubbed with a cool name, or because I’ve had it for so long that it’s just become a part of me.” Rachel

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