UK based photographer Sophie Mayanne is on a mission to have women from all walks of life embrace their scars, and has created a beautiful photo series to celebrate them.
Often associated with pain, trauma and shame, people often forget the old adage that, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’
For many, scars are symbolic of fighting through a hard time, of coming out the other side and wearing them like a badge of honour.
In other words, not everyone is ashamed of their scars; in her project, which was initially created as a one off commission for a magazine but was so inspiring that she decided to delve deeper, Sophie has captured beautiful portraits of women whose bodies have been scarred, and the stories of empowerment behind them.
She hopes that in doing this, other women will stop wanting to hide their battle wounds away.
One image in the series focuses on Barbara, who bears the dramatic scars of treatment for a rare and aggressive breast cancer.
Images: Sophie Mayanne
‘Three surgeries and two chemotherapy treatments later these are the scars I bear,’ she explains in the project. ‘My recent operation was an innovative surgery which involved removal of my sternum and four ribs, which were re-placed 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.’
Like Barbara, Deborah’s scars are a symbol of her fight against cancer.
She said: ‘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.’
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‘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 tobe going through what I am, but I’m not – I just have nooth-er choice. I’m still me, I can still be sexy, I can still have fun – cancer doesn’t need to define me.’
Another subject of the series, Isabella, was involved in a housefire at the age of 15.
‘My clothes and way of life [were] up in flames,’ she recalls. ‘I spend my summer in a burns unit on Fulham Road. My scars and scar tissue continue to change, but I have never felt more beautiful.’