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The Story Behind The Scar: 28 Women Tell The Truth (NSFW)

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    Photographed by Sam Nixon.

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    Scars are accumulated over a lifetime. From the faded, skinned knees of childhood to precise surgical scars from later in life, they make up both small and important stories from our lives. Sure, they represent healing and the challenges we've overcome, but they can also be a source of embarrassment, shame, or pain. And, in a world where photo retouching rules, the pores, blemishes, and scars that adorn so many women are often forgotten.

    Not every scar represents trauma or disease, but some do. Others are just the normal result of living a life where shit happens. We slip on ice, we get bitten by spiders, we burn ourselves, or we accidentally bite ourselves in our sleep. Ahead are all of these stories, from 28 women — and images of the scars they got along the way.

    *This photo series depicts scars from healed self-harm injuries.




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    Cristina
    "I was born with congenital heart disease... I came out blue. They had to do an emergency surgery because they didn’t think I was going to make it. Since then, I’ve had about six more surgeries. A few years ago, I had a pacemaker put in; then, I finally had my adult open-heart surgery.

    "I hated my scar... But the thing is, my girlfriends are so supportive. Within in a few months, my worries went away because they were like, 'Dude, that’s awesome.' My friend used to say that it gave me cleavage.

    "I feel like scars are symbols of being a warrior — of being on a journey. I did try to hide the scar in the back when I was younger, at sweet-sixteen parties and stuff...my mom would always take really gorgeous, couture dresses and add a random strap or something to cover it. It was quite hilarious."

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    Katherine
    "I was in upstate NY when I was bitten by a spider. I didn’t go to the hospital until 48 hours later, [when] I couldn’t see straight or stand up, and I had a high fever... They did blood work and put me on antibiotics. They didn’t drain it at the hospital, which I thought was crazy, because it was this huge lump on my leg!

    "They must have misdiagnosed it, because when I went into a walk-in clinic in Jersey [later], they drained it immediately. I couldn’t believe all the scary stuff that was coming out. They told me it was cellulitis and that they couldn’t stitch it up because it was an infection from the inside out — that’s why I have the scar."

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    Lyne
    "When I was 4 years old, I grabbed two chairs and jumped up between them to balance my body [and] swing back and forth. But, the chairs were unstable, and I fell face-first onto the ground. The fall caused me to bite my tongue off. My mother recalls that it was holding on by a string. She didn't want to touch it because it would come off completely. She said that there was so much blood... I was rushed to a surgeon, and my tongue was sewn back on. I was only allowed to eat soup for two months."

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    Marisa
    "I had half of my thyroid removed after finding out I had a cancerous tumor. Sometimes, I think I’m in denial about the scar; sometimes I look in the mirror and just cry. My neck is one of my favorite parts of my body, and I always thought it’s where a lot of my beauty came from. Now, there is a big thing right there, and I can’t even hide it. I’m doing this to come out. I want to love it, and I want it to be part of who I am."

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    Morgan
    "This is my scoliosis surgery scar. I got it when I had surgery to correct the curvature of my spine. I was only 11...they said it would take at least three months to recover.

    "In the first year, you’re not allowed to expose it to intense sunlight, so I had to wear a special speedo that zipped all the way to the top. Since I’m half-black — and we are more prone to keloid scars — the scarring process is a lot different. You really have to keep it covered up.

    "In terms of limitations...I can’t ever go on a trampoline; I can’t do bungee jumping. I can absolutely do yoga, and I’m relatively flexible — I just can’t arch my back up that much.

    "I’ve had this scar for 15 years, and at this point, I feel very differently about it... Growing up, I wanted to be perfect...and it can be really difficult to have [a scar] that, let’s be honest, takes up my whole back. It’s something that people are going to look at. That unwanted attention can be really hard to deal with. But, as you grow, you are comfortable in your skin, and you can feel okay. Once I got to that point, I didn’t care as much about the scar anymore."