Behind the scars
Isabella
Isabella

"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."

Ashleigh
Ashleigh

"I've struggled with self harm since I was 8. For as long as I can remember, my emotions have been very intense, this was one of the ways I learnt to cope. 
I have been stuck wearing long sleeves regardless of the weather. The appearance of my arms is one of my biggest secrets.

Learning to embrace my scars and accept them as part of me is a major step. I also feel that hiding them away perpetuates the feeling of guilt/shame."

ANDREA
ANDREA

"My first scars arrived at 14, whilst playing a chasing game with friends. I jumped over the wall, but the wall moved and I ended up scarring both of my legs. For years I've been paranoid about showing them and only wore trousers. 
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. 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."

Frances
Frances

 "When I was about 8 I had a birthmark removed from my forehead - a popular boy at school was teasing me about it so we went to the doctor. It turned out that it could have been dangerous to keep it, and I quite like the scar that was left."

Christina
Christina

"I have two scars on my left knee - one small one on the outside and a larger one down the front. These are from knee surgery (October 2016). I had osteochondritis dissecans, and had pain in my knee for a few years prior to my surgery. I got officially "diagnosed" with this when I was 18 and tried to avoid surgery but by the time I got to 23, the pain was so bad that I had to do something and surgery was the only option. I was very worried about having a permanent scar on my leg, so didn't want surgery. That's why I wanted to do this project, to feel good about my scar."

Beckie
Beckie

"I didn't feel like my body represented me, so I saved for 3 years to get a breast reduction when I was 18. "

Miriam
Miriam

"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. "

Natasha
Natasha

"My scars are from self harm over the last 5-6 years. I was diagnosed with depression as a young teenager and put on medication pretty quickly. I remember thinking about death at a young age. One of my clearest memories from my childhood is of me, 7 years old with my legs hanging out of my mums bedroom window, thinking about jumping. I remember her shouting at me so loudly. She didn't realise at the time what I was doing.

I've always been hyper-sensitive with extremely low self-esteem. The first time I cut myself was after a teacher picked on me in class for talking and she basically told me in front of everyone that she thought I was going to fail her subject and that I, more than anyone else there, needed to put my head down, listen and work hard. That really hit me. Most people would just brush it off but I've always been terrified of failure, I've never believed myself to be capable of much and that just added to my insecurities. School was a really difficult time for me, especially with my mental health problems. I never really fit in properly, I always felt like an outsider and like I just didn't belong.

Clare
Clare

“I received this scar after being bitten by a spider while I was travelling in India.  After the bite happened, while asleep, there was only a feeling of tingling and numbness, but no apparent bite wound. The bite unfortunately developed into an abscess which required surgery when I returned to the UK a couple of weeks later. The wound ended up 6cm deep and 3cm wide. 

I caught a rare strain of MRSA whilst receiving treatment in the UK, which delayed my recovery for more than a year. To begin with I did not like the scar, but 8 years on I now very much like it, and enjoy having it as part of me.”

Dorisilla
Dorisilla

 " Breast - Benign fibroadenoma, stomach - myomectomy & keloids removed. Forehead - domestic violence."

Carmen
Carmen

I got the scar from an operation to fix a tear in my knee. I wasn’t that happy with the scar for the first couple of years, and just wished it would fade. But like every single mark on my body (accidental or not) I got used to it. I’m a very sentimental person, so now I actually love the scar. It reminds me of a painful time, and that I don’t feel that pain anymore."

Cari
Cari

"This is the scar I got from spinal fusion surgery when I was 15 in September 2013, to correct my scoliosis. I have two 12" metal roads and 12 metal screws all down my spine. I think it's made me hyper aware how our physical health impacts our mental health."

Hebe
Hebe

“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.”

Therryi
Therryi

"My scar on my hand has been with me my entire life. At age 1, my sister left the iron unattended and it dropped on my hand. The temporary nurse at the hospital bandaged my two fingers up - as a result, they sealed together and I needed skin graft surgery. I've had limited use of my left hand for over 25 years. The skin graft was taken from my hip which healed as Keloid skin, leaving me with two lifetime scars."

Louisa
Louisa

“My scarring is from emergency operations following a serious road traffic incident, where I was the front seat passenger in an old 70s Beetle 10 years ago. The injuries I sustained were a fracture in my left foot, both tibias, right femur, dislocated left hip, both arms were fractured and also my top rib and jaw. I was pretty much bed bound for 6 months. I have complete amnesia of the accident, so the scars are sort of the only visual representation of what happened.” 

Phoebe
Phoebe

"I've got a long scar down my back from corrective spinal surgery when I was 15. I had scoliosis, it all came as a huge shock, one day Mum noticed I had developed a hump. Turns out I had a 60 degree curve in my spine. I'm very proud of my scar, it's a big part of my identity. I hope it offers some reassurance to other scoliosis sufferers."

Michelle
Michelle

"I've had 15 surgeries, a brain tumour, a punctured intestine, an obstructed bowel, a cyst in my brain and a condition called Hydrocephalus. I grew up without realising my body was different until one day I wore a bikini and was met with looks of pity and shock. I thought the solution was to hide them and never talk about them, but in fact, what helped me was the exact opposite. When I was 21, I finally started embracing my scars and accepting my body for what it does. In celebration of that I launched a campaign called #scarrednotscared because I knew I couldn't be alone. I didn't want anyone to feel isolated in their struggles with physical illness and chronic pain, and it became the perfect platform to remove the shame around our scars and our bodies in general."

Joe
Joe

"I had a kidney transplant at the age of 18 months, after going into renal failure at 8 months. My mum gave me one of her kidneys. I have still got that kidney now, at the time being the youngest recipient of a live kidney. The long scar on my stomach is from where they put in my Mums kidney. It was also opened to take my own kidneys out. I have other scars from dialysis tubes that were put in at the time. At the age of 8, I caught measles and ended up in a coma with measles encephalitis - a swelling of the brain, which caused a stroke. I had a tracheostomy in my throat as I couldn't swallow. My long scar on my stomach was reopened in January this year, as I had cancer and the surgeons needed to reopen my old scar to remove the tumour." 

Tineke
Tineke

“The scars relate to different stages in my life, my childhood and womanhood. Animals seem to figure in a few, getting to close to a dog whilst it was feeding led to a small scar on my face, luckily it folds into the creases of my smile (Occurred age 8). I’m now 41, I battled with ill health for many years, these led to scars around my belly button. Two hernia ops, and my belly button is now as flat as a pancake. Having a Laparoscopy for endometriosis should have left no scars, but an over zealous horse ran into me creating a bug shaped scar. The slow healing I now know is due to Lupus, my connective tissue is constantly inflamed, causing sore scar tissue.” 

Trevor
Trevor

“I was born just after the war in 1948. In East London at this time there were many bombed out houses. 
Whilst playing I fell, and landed on a broken bottle, this went through my mouth. All through my school days, I was teased everyday. As I reached my late teens I was able to grow a moustache to try and conceal it. All through my life I have been aware of my scar, and have found it very unsettling. Thankfully as you get older, the ageing process takes over. Now my life has completely transformed, thanks to my scar. I am now a leading model and actor, and clients are buying my scarred look, so it turned out very well in the end. My scar is now my fortune."

Cristina
Cristina

“I had a hydatid cyst on my liver, and had the surgery when I was 14. That year was definitely not my year. From what I know about it, it was a tapeworm that I probably got from playing with dogs and not washing my hands after. I read that it grows 2-3cm per year, and mine was 8-9cm when I had the surgery, so quite big. It did bother me in the beginning, but I remember one day my brother told me that it looks really cool and it makes my belly special. I think that’s when I started liking it. I wouldn’t change it, or the experience for nothing. It was hard going through it (hospital, eating yoghurts for two weeks, not being allowed to shower or getting out of bed by myself), but it made me
stronger"

Cynthia
Cynthia

"I was performing a routine chemistry experiment in a Friday afternoon Nov 18, 2005. Instead of ventilating out of the fumehood, the flames came out at me and a bit of fuel I was holding ignited my body on fire. The hospital workers did not take the heat out of the burns, and whilst being transported to the nearest city's burns unit I burned for another 8 hours. I then had 3rd degree burns and they shaved the back of my legs to provide the skin to cover my burns. I've had a couple of cosmetic surgeries to improve the scars, but finally I just "let go" of trying to look perfect and accepted myself as beautiful in my own skin."

Tave
Tave

“Shoulder surgery was the only option I had in order to keep playing the sport I loved. It used to dislocate every time I played. I started to hate playing because of the pain. My scars are a memory, a reminder of me having no more pain. My forearm scars - I didn’t really talk about University being a tough learning curve, and sometimes I struggled"

Corey
Corey

"I was walking through the park with my sister when I heard someone say "oi!" and he approached me with a group of his friends. He pulled out a knife and stabbed me in the chest. I moved backwards and another one of them hit me over the head with a bat then dropped it to the floor. I held up my hand and it filled with blood. They then left. I went to the nearest shop, got tissue and held it to my head and chest and waited for the ambulance to arrive."

Ellen
Ellen

“Operation scar on ankle - when I was 12 I went to a rock climbing party for my friends birthday. The instructor didn’t attach the ropes properly to me, and I fell 21 feet as I went to abseil down. I broke my wrist and ankle. I had to spend a week in hospital, and 3 months in a wheelchair, which gave me an insight into how people on the street react when you are disabled. Self harm scars - I have been struggling with anxiety, depression and self harm since I was 14, and showing my scars makes me feel less ashamed of them. Knee scars - I’m very clumsy, and I fall over a lot, which means I constantly have grazed knees.”

Matt
Matt

 "I got my scars a few years ago, when I was about 15/16. They all came from self harm. It was a little bit of a tough time in my life, living in Poland where unfortunately many people are really homophobic - and growing up, going to school as a gay man can be hard."

Rochelle
Rochelle

"I've always had scars for as long as I can remember. Acne scars. As I went through puberty I had irregular periods which made me decide to go to the doctors and they found a 12cm cyst on my ovaries. They did emergency key hole surgery, and when I saw the scars I was horrified. I thought I’d never be able to wear a bikini and at the age of 18, that felt like a big thing. Now I’m 22, I’ve over it and I’m quite open about the fact I have PCOS and I feel like it’s just become a part of who I am rather than a secret. I am more open to showing my scars to people now, and they definitely don’t stop me going to the beach in a bikini anymore. 
I decided it would be good to be a part of this series, as every one has scars, and a story behind
them.”

Ronnie
Ronnie

"When I was six months old I had an operation on my stomach to move everything upwards about 3 inches as I had a gap in my oesophagus.

Other scars I have are from feeding tubes. The one that stands out is from a feeding tube I had pulled out myself, which is why it has healed like it has." 

Ruby
Ruby

“I suppose I don’t really remember a scar forming, it just appeared, but I quite like it because it gives my back some personality and somehow it’s different. It’s a shingles scar from my childhood, and has grown with me since. Obviously I’ve never really seen it - only in reflections, and photos, which Is quite cool because I see people react to it in different ways. I’d never wish that it wasn’t
there, it’s a little bit of history on my back, you know?"

Behind the scars
Isabella
Ashleigh
ANDREA
Frances
Christina
Beckie
Miriam
Natasha
Clare
Dorisilla
Carmen
Cari
Hebe
Therryi
Louisa
Phoebe
Michelle
Joe
Tineke
Trevor
Cristina
Cynthia
Tave
Corey
Ellen
Matt
Rochelle
Ronnie
Ruby
Behind the scars
Isabella

"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."

Ashleigh

"I've struggled with self harm since I was 8. For as long as I can remember, my emotions have been very intense, this was one of the ways I learnt to cope. 
I have been stuck wearing long sleeves regardless of the weather. The appearance of my arms is one of my biggest secrets.

Learning to embrace my scars and accept them as part of me is a major step. I also feel that hiding them away perpetuates the feeling of guilt/shame."

ANDREA

"My first scars arrived at 14, whilst playing a chasing game with friends. I jumped over the wall, but the wall moved and I ended up scarring both of my legs. For years I've been paranoid about showing them and only wore trousers. 
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. 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."

Frances

 "When I was about 8 I had a birthmark removed from my forehead - a popular boy at school was teasing me about it so we went to the doctor. It turned out that it could have been dangerous to keep it, and I quite like the scar that was left."

Christina

"I have two scars on my left knee - one small one on the outside and a larger one down the front. These are from knee surgery (October 2016). I had osteochondritis dissecans, and had pain in my knee for a few years prior to my surgery. I got officially "diagnosed" with this when I was 18 and tried to avoid surgery but by the time I got to 23, the pain was so bad that I had to do something and surgery was the only option. I was very worried about having a permanent scar on my leg, so didn't want surgery. That's why I wanted to do this project, to feel good about my scar."

Beckie

"I didn't feel like my body represented me, so I saved for 3 years to get a breast reduction when I was 18. "

Miriam

"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. "

Natasha

"My scars are from self harm over the last 5-6 years. I was diagnosed with depression as a young teenager and put on medication pretty quickly. I remember thinking about death at a young age. One of my clearest memories from my childhood is of me, 7 years old with my legs hanging out of my mums bedroom window, thinking about jumping. I remember her shouting at me so loudly. She didn't realise at the time what I was doing.

I've always been hyper-sensitive with extremely low self-esteem. The first time I cut myself was after a teacher picked on me in class for talking and she basically told me in front of everyone that she thought I was going to fail her subject and that I, more than anyone else there, needed to put my head down, listen and work hard. That really hit me. Most people would just brush it off but I've always been terrified of failure, I've never believed myself to be capable of much and that just added to my insecurities. School was a really difficult time for me, especially with my mental health problems. I never really fit in properly, I always felt like an outsider and like I just didn't belong.

Clare

“I received this scar after being bitten by a spider while I was travelling in India.  After the bite happened, while asleep, there was only a feeling of tingling and numbness, but no apparent bite wound. The bite unfortunately developed into an abscess which required surgery when I returned to the UK a couple of weeks later. The wound ended up 6cm deep and 3cm wide. 

I caught a rare strain of MRSA whilst receiving treatment in the UK, which delayed my recovery for more than a year. To begin with I did not like the scar, but 8 years on I now very much like it, and enjoy having it as part of me.”

Dorisilla

 " Breast - Benign fibroadenoma, stomach - myomectomy & keloids removed. Forehead - domestic violence."

Carmen

I got the scar from an operation to fix a tear in my knee. I wasn’t that happy with the scar for the first couple of years, and just wished it would fade. But like every single mark on my body (accidental or not) I got used to it. I’m a very sentimental person, so now I actually love the scar. It reminds me of a painful time, and that I don’t feel that pain anymore."

Cari

"This is the scar I got from spinal fusion surgery when I was 15 in September 2013, to correct my scoliosis. I have two 12" metal roads and 12 metal screws all down my spine. I think it's made me hyper aware how our physical health impacts our mental health."

Hebe

“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.”

Therryi

"My scar on my hand has been with me my entire life. At age 1, my sister left the iron unattended and it dropped on my hand. The temporary nurse at the hospital bandaged my two fingers up - as a result, they sealed together and I needed skin graft surgery. I've had limited use of my left hand for over 25 years. The skin graft was taken from my hip which healed as Keloid skin, leaving me with two lifetime scars."

Louisa

“My scarring is from emergency operations following a serious road traffic incident, where I was the front seat passenger in an old 70s Beetle 10 years ago. The injuries I sustained were a fracture in my left foot, both tibias, right femur, dislocated left hip, both arms were fractured and also my top rib and jaw. I was pretty much bed bound for 6 months. I have complete amnesia of the accident, so the scars are sort of the only visual representation of what happened.” 

Phoebe

"I've got a long scar down my back from corrective spinal surgery when I was 15. I had scoliosis, it all came as a huge shock, one day Mum noticed I had developed a hump. Turns out I had a 60 degree curve in my spine. I'm very proud of my scar, it's a big part of my identity. I hope it offers some reassurance to other scoliosis sufferers."

Michelle

"I've had 15 surgeries, a brain tumour, a punctured intestine, an obstructed bowel, a cyst in my brain and a condition called Hydrocephalus. I grew up without realising my body was different until one day I wore a bikini and was met with looks of pity and shock. I thought the solution was to hide them and never talk about them, but in fact, what helped me was the exact opposite. When I was 21, I finally started embracing my scars and accepting my body for what it does. In celebration of that I launched a campaign called #scarrednotscared because I knew I couldn't be alone. I didn't want anyone to feel isolated in their struggles with physical illness and chronic pain, and it became the perfect platform to remove the shame around our scars and our bodies in general."

Joe

"I had a kidney transplant at the age of 18 months, after going into renal failure at 8 months. My mum gave me one of her kidneys. I have still got that kidney now, at the time being the youngest recipient of a live kidney. The long scar on my stomach is from where they put in my Mums kidney. It was also opened to take my own kidneys out. I have other scars from dialysis tubes that were put in at the time. At the age of 8, I caught measles and ended up in a coma with measles encephalitis - a swelling of the brain, which caused a stroke. I had a tracheostomy in my throat as I couldn't swallow. My long scar on my stomach was reopened in January this year, as I had cancer and the surgeons needed to reopen my old scar to remove the tumour." 

Tineke

“The scars relate to different stages in my life, my childhood and womanhood. Animals seem to figure in a few, getting to close to a dog whilst it was feeding led to a small scar on my face, luckily it folds into the creases of my smile (Occurred age 8). I’m now 41, I battled with ill health for many years, these led to scars around my belly button. Two hernia ops, and my belly button is now as flat as a pancake. Having a Laparoscopy for endometriosis should have left no scars, but an over zealous horse ran into me creating a bug shaped scar. The slow healing I now know is due to Lupus, my connective tissue is constantly inflamed, causing sore scar tissue.” 

Trevor

“I was born just after the war in 1948. In East London at this time there were many bombed out houses. 
Whilst playing I fell, and landed on a broken bottle, this went through my mouth. All through my school days, I was teased everyday. As I reached my late teens I was able to grow a moustache to try and conceal it. All through my life I have been aware of my scar, and have found it very unsettling. Thankfully as you get older, the ageing process takes over. Now my life has completely transformed, thanks to my scar. I am now a leading model and actor, and clients are buying my scarred look, so it turned out very well in the end. My scar is now my fortune."

Cristina

“I had a hydatid cyst on my liver, and had the surgery when I was 14. That year was definitely not my year. From what I know about it, it was a tapeworm that I probably got from playing with dogs and not washing my hands after. I read that it grows 2-3cm per year, and mine was 8-9cm when I had the surgery, so quite big. It did bother me in the beginning, but I remember one day my brother told me that it looks really cool and it makes my belly special. I think that’s when I started liking it. I wouldn’t change it, or the experience for nothing. It was hard going through it (hospital, eating yoghurts for two weeks, not being allowed to shower or getting out of bed by myself), but it made me
stronger"

Cynthia

"I was performing a routine chemistry experiment in a Friday afternoon Nov 18, 2005. Instead of ventilating out of the fumehood, the flames came out at me and a bit of fuel I was holding ignited my body on fire. The hospital workers did not take the heat out of the burns, and whilst being transported to the nearest city's burns unit I burned for another 8 hours. I then had 3rd degree burns and they shaved the back of my legs to provide the skin to cover my burns. I've had a couple of cosmetic surgeries to improve the scars, but finally I just "let go" of trying to look perfect and accepted myself as beautiful in my own skin."

Tave

“Shoulder surgery was the only option I had in order to keep playing the sport I loved. It used to dislocate every time I played. I started to hate playing because of the pain. My scars are a memory, a reminder of me having no more pain. My forearm scars - I didn’t really talk about University being a tough learning curve, and sometimes I struggled"

Corey

"I was walking through the park with my sister when I heard someone say "oi!" and he approached me with a group of his friends. He pulled out a knife and stabbed me in the chest. I moved backwards and another one of them hit me over the head with a bat then dropped it to the floor. I held up my hand and it filled with blood. They then left. I went to the nearest shop, got tissue and held it to my head and chest and waited for the ambulance to arrive."

Ellen

“Operation scar on ankle - when I was 12 I went to a rock climbing party for my friends birthday. The instructor didn’t attach the ropes properly to me, and I fell 21 feet as I went to abseil down. I broke my wrist and ankle. I had to spend a week in hospital, and 3 months in a wheelchair, which gave me an insight into how people on the street react when you are disabled. Self harm scars - I have been struggling with anxiety, depression and self harm since I was 14, and showing my scars makes me feel less ashamed of them. Knee scars - I’m very clumsy, and I fall over a lot, which means I constantly have grazed knees.”

Matt

 "I got my scars a few years ago, when I was about 15/16. They all came from self harm. It was a little bit of a tough time in my life, living in Poland where unfortunately many people are really homophobic - and growing up, going to school as a gay man can be hard."

Rochelle

"I've always had scars for as long as I can remember. Acne scars. As I went through puberty I had irregular periods which made me decide to go to the doctors and they found a 12cm cyst on my ovaries. They did emergency key hole surgery, and when I saw the scars I was horrified. I thought I’d never be able to wear a bikini and at the age of 18, that felt like a big thing. Now I’m 22, I’ve over it and I’m quite open about the fact I have PCOS and I feel like it’s just become a part of who I am rather than a secret. I am more open to showing my scars to people now, and they definitely don’t stop me going to the beach in a bikini anymore. 
I decided it would be good to be a part of this series, as every one has scars, and a story behind
them.”

Ronnie

"When I was six months old I had an operation on my stomach to move everything upwards about 3 inches as I had a gap in my oesophagus.

Other scars I have are from feeding tubes. The one that stands out is from a feeding tube I had pulled out myself, which is why it has healed like it has." 

Ruby

“I suppose I don’t really remember a scar forming, it just appeared, but I quite like it because it gives my back some personality and somehow it’s different. It’s a shingles scar from my childhood, and has grown with me since. Obviously I’ve never really seen it - only in reflections, and photos, which Is quite cool because I see people react to it in different ways. I’d never wish that it wasn’t
there, it’s a little bit of history on my back, you know?"

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