These powerful photos are encouraging people to show off their scars

Lizzie showed off her scars and shared her inspiring story of self-injury for photographer Sophie Mayanne’s Behind the Scars campaign. (Photo: <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sophie Mayanne" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sophie Mayanne</a>)
Lizzie showed off her scars and shared her inspiring story of self-injury for photographer Sophie Mayanne’s Behind the Scars campaign. (Photo: Sophie Mayanne)

Thanks to the body-positive movement, many people have been empowered to embrace the skin they are in and show it off in the most inspiring ways. One photographer has taken things further, by visually capturing the stories behind women, men, and children with scars, and the captivating photos are going viral for all the right reasons.

U.K.-based photographer Sophie Mayanne officially kicked off her photo series in 2017, and as noted on her Instagram page, “The series celebrates scars of all shapes and sizes and the stories behind them … [and] aims to challenge how we think about the skin we are in, and others around us.”

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Mayanne’s latest work showcases a 24-year-old woman named Bianca, who wears braids and poses with her back turned to the camera to give a full view of her keloid scars. She explains in her caption, “My keloid scars developed after I had severe acne on my face, back and chest. I was prescribed tablets to clear the acne but unfortunately they turned some acne spots into keloids.” Bianca goes on to describe how the keloids themselves have caused her pain, and so have the comments of some insensitive people. But she ends on a more positive note.


Since Mayanne shared that about a week ago, the Instagram post has received over 3,000 likes, and people have left admiring comments such as, “As someone who has also developed keloids as a result of acne, I can totally relate to this. It can be so hard to stay confident. Stay strong beautiful girl.” Another person chimed in to say, “You’re truly beautiful. And your scars look cool, to be honest.” Media outlets and social platforms like Girl Gaze have shared this powerful post as well — raking in more than 6,800 likes.

Mayanne’s photography continues to inspire others to embrace their scars, and we can’t wait to see who will be her next muse. Keep scrolling to see more of her beautiful visual stories, as well as images from others who have joined the #behindthescars movement.

Having a #birthmark, along with my scars, used to be tough. In the early days, there were times that I would try to avoid people because I didn’t want to answer any questions or deal with people staring at me. I had hard feelings so many times making me not like the way I look. . Everything changed when, still as a child, I finally embraced it and told myself these things: – The way I was born was not a choice. – It is not bad. I am not sick. It is just a superficial difference on my skin. – I have my unique version of beauty. . Being born different has helped develop me to a stronger person. THAT.IS.WHAT.MATTERS. ♥️ . As someone with a birthmark (Nevus), I'd like to celebrate Vascular Birthmark Awareness Day with my birthmark friends, spread LOVE and celebrate the people whose journey has inspired me. Thank you @kymseletto @flawless_affect @lizardpushup @caseyhall9517 @jyaracri @lifewspots @andopham @birthmarkprincess @thetravelin_chick ♥️ @albaparejo_ @vanilla_von_keks @maca.rod_ @rozilene_camilo @cassandranaud @libmolano @gemm_lw @ichendanielle @yulianna.yussef @isaolivieriii @marywestminster @jaclynfromthevalley . Please check out the link in BIO to learn more. Let’s educate ourselves that everyone has their own beauty and unique flaws, and that’s ok. . . . #vascularbirthmark #putonyourbirthmark #portwinestain #pwsalove #love #nevuslove #nevus #birthmarkgang #bareyourbirthmark #embraceyourself #scarstrong #behindthescars #underneathwearewomen #photooftheday #photoshoot #selfie #losangeles #la #flawlessaffect #empowerment #spreadlove #beautyinsideout #borndifferent #barcrofTV #sundaymorningview

A post shared by Nathalia Freitas (@freitas.nath) on May 15, 2018 at 4:24pm PDT

Behind The Scars: Rime “I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2017, age 37. It was no huge surprise to be another stat, coming from a public health background, I was very much aware that breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and it's on the increase among women under 50's. Sadly, it is also on the increase among men. Although an outrageous amount of money has been invested in cancer treatments over many years – it has become a very profitable industry – very little in comparison has been invested in the root causes of the alarming increase in various cancers. So although, I am grateful breast cancer can be treated and survival rates have improved. I feel imposed to be grateful, and I certainly did not lightly decide to choose the imposed medical treatment pathway, as I knew the extent of all the side effects and the fact my body will no longer be the same again and neither will I be. However, with such diagnoses, it is no longer just about you, but it is also about the feelings of your loved ones around you. So with some hesitation, I opted for a one breast mastectomy with immediate reconstructive breast surgery using my own tummy tissue. I was, in and out of hospital with a slowly failing reconstructive breast which in the end had to be completely removed as it was delaying my chemotherapy treatment. This has left me with several scars which will continue to evolve as my body will keep changing, and I have several further operations in the next couple of years. I am currently half way through my chemotherapy treatment, so I am very much in the midst of my breast cancer treatment pathway/journey. Its been nice hearing different people's journeys. I have always been body and nudity confident, but I have to admit I am very much still adjusting to my changed and ever changing body. I hope one day, I will reflect on this testing journey and grow from this stronger and more insightful. I am not sure how I feel about my scars right this moment in time… Continued in comments @rimehadri

A post shared by SOPHIE MAYANNE (@sophiemayanne) on Apr 23, 2018 at 12:07pm PDT

Behind The Scars: Tulsi "2006. What seemed like a simple blood test at my GP surgery soon turned into my life changing again! I got diagnosed with end stage renal failure. I was going to die! That’s all I concluded as I couldn’t process what my consultant was telling me. 24 hours of lying in one position post biopsy was painful but hearing that my kidneys were failing sent me into a shock. All I wanted to do was complete my degree. I don’t want to quit now! 4 months post diagnosis I was on peritoneal dialysis. Everything was happening so fast, from severe metallic taste in my mouth to suddenly training to use my machine every night at home! I was so exhausted all the time and suffered from nausea daily. This was due to the toxins building up. I had a catheter surgically fitted into my adnominal region. This is where I was connecting to my machine every night for 8 hours. My spare bedroom became a store room for all the fluids and cleaning items. The first few months were difficult as I was always fatigued. I managed to attend university and deferred my dissertation to the following year as I couldn’t cope with it all. Before I plugged myself to the machine I would place my text books and laptop on my bed so I could complete my assignments and revision.I managed to complete my degree with a 2:1 which was amazing! January 2009 I got a phone call at 1am from the hospital informing me that a kidney became available. I was in the midst of renovating my house during this period so my mind was on meeting with the builders and architect. I asked the doctor when can I let him know, surely they can keep the kidney for a few days!!! He said you have 5 minutes to decide, it would be a shame to let it go as it’s a near perfect match! So I guess it was a yes!! I was sure I'd be discharged soon after the operation so I could get back to the renovations… 4 days in hospital recovering from the transplant I felt ready to tackle the world again. However when I got home something didn’t feel right – surely it must be the post operation pain. I couldn’t sleep or sit, suddenly my bed was the worst place and I was angry all the time. Continued in comments. @tulsidivalove

A post shared by SOPHIE MAYANNE (@sophiemayanne) on Apr 21, 2018 at 11:20am PDT

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