#BehindTheScars Photo Series Celebrates The Beauty Of Keloids And Unique Body Blemishes
I’ve had a small keloid behind my right ear ever since my mother got my ears pierced as a baby. It’s tucked away so no one really notices it unless I point it out and my daughter only discovered it a few weeks ago when she rubbed my ear to self-sooth her way to sleep. But the thing about keloids is that for whatever reason, certain folks are more prone to them than others, bad news for someone who’s taken a liking to body piercing since getting a needle in my navel for my 18th birthday. For those who are unfamiliar with how seriously the body can take healing, a keloid is basically excessive scar tissue that forms over an injury. So that means everything from my c-section scar to an industrial bar in my right ear has to be carefully monitored during the healing process to make sure my body doesn’t get all hype with the healing process.
Doctors don‘t know exactly why keloids affect some folks but not others, but it appears individuals with darkly pigmented skin are 15 times more likely to develop keloids, placing people of color such as African-Americans and Hispanics at the greatest risk. Keloids also tend to run in families, meaning that when it comes to my body’s tendency to overreact to threats (pollen allergies and asthma included), I probably get it from my mama. The good news: Keloids are not a threat to health and well-being, and the worst I’ve experienced is a little extra bump on the outer ridge of my ear that takes the sexy edginess of my industrial bar down a few notches. In addition, if your keloid is majorly affecting your social life and body image by taking on an identity of its own, there’s always the option to have them removed via laser surgery or cryotherapy. At the end of the day, the best way to prevent keloids is to avoid any unnecessary scarring if you find that you’re prone to develop them, which is why I’ve been hesitant to get my lip pierced for several years now.
However, a recent viral photo campaign asks if our scars are things to be hidden and one woman is saying her keloids are just as beautiful as Winnie Harlow’s vitiligo or Sza’s freckles. Yahoo Lifestyle recently featured the work of Sophia Mayanne, the photographer behind #BehindTheScars, a photo series that highlights and pays homage to scars and healing through body positive images and stories in which women embrace that blemishes as evidence of what they’ve been through and survived. One model in particular who goes by the Instagram handle @biancahoneybeex is featured in a halo of ebony box braids cascading over a collection of keloid patches on her back that many would say are simply beautiful. Her story on learning to accept herself is actually what is truly breathtaking. The 24-year-old shared her struggles via a post featured on Girl Gaze:
“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.”
“They’ve stopped me from living my life, wearing certain clothing, and caused anxiety and depression. Sometimes people don’t realise how scars/skin [conditions] can ruin an individual’s mental health.”
Although my own scars have been limited to my ear and places that are easily hidden, admittedly there’s a little jab to my self-confidence when someone looks at my piercing and asks, “What happened?” as if I didn’t take proper precautions and got my ear pierced in a basement of a bodega. I can only imagine what Bianca faces with scars present on her face and back. She maintains that accepting her scars has led to an acceptance about her appearance and the ability to dismiss the negative opinions of others so she can truly enjoy her life:
“From the nasty comments I have received, I have now realised life’s too short to care what people think. I am starting to try [to] love my skin and to believe I am unique. This is the beginning of my journey to become free from negativity and to regain a positive mind set.”
“I gotta start to love these keloids because they’re not going no where,” she says alongside a selfie showing the scars on her chest. “I hope other keloid suffers will find the seed to bloom/blossom and feel unique in their own skin.”
You can check out a few of the inspiring stories featured in #BehindTheScars below:
#behindthescars Renee “The story behind my scars is a chronic autoimmune disease in which my immune system has become hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue. My skin can become very itchy, and flares up in rashes which leads to scarring. I first discovered a rash in late 2015, which formed on my ear. Initially, I had no concerns – it was just an occasional itch now and then. However, after about 8 months, thick scabs began forming on my ear which became very sore and tender. My first visit to the Doctors was very concerning as no-one was able to tell me what it could have been, and I was constantly provided with light creams as a pre-caution. By 2016, rashes had appeared on my fingertips and face – the Doctors then informed me it might be Lichen Planus. In 2017, lesions begun appearing in my scalp, and on my chest – by this time scarring on my ear had become so deep that the shape of my ear appeared very odd. After having a biopsy the doctors confirmed my condition was Lupus. Since having the biopsy, my skin continues to itch, and my scalp now has bald patches. Scarring has appeared in so many random places – my back, chest and face. Adapting to this condition has not been easy – it’s really affected my hobbies and overall confidence. I have changed my eating habits, and have been concentrating on skin care regimes to promote recovery.” @_renzo_ #lupus #skin photography by @sophiemayanne
** #RevealTheRealYou ** _ It took me a while to get used to my scars, my confidence was low and I was afraid of what people would say. The worst thing is, these scars could have cost me my life, over people I no longer associate with. But you live and you learn. _ It was not until I started to weight lifting that they started to cause me pain. I used to cry (real tears 😭) when I had to execute most upper body exercises. However on a positive note, over time they have flattened which means they are not as visible. _ My young people (maybe other people do to, but are not vocal) think I'm a gangster, as on first glance they say the scar on my face looks like a teardrop tattoo. Something I don't like, but there's not much I can do about it. _ Now I'm able to celebrate the beauty of scarring and disfigurement 💪🏾 (SWIPE ⬅️) #flexFriday _ Thank you to📸 @sophiemayanne @behindthescars_ with her latest project for @huaweimobileuk @dazed for continuing to #transforming the way I and many others feel about our scars #positivethinking #thisisme _ Focus On Creating your Ultimate Self #FOCUS #IamFOCUSEd _ Hoodie @iamherathletics . #scars #behindthescars #beautyisintheeyeofthebeholder #beauty #confidence #muscle #womenupliftingwomen #transformariontuesday #model #modelling – #regrann