The series was captured by Sophie Mayanne and began in April 2017. Since then, Sophie has captured hundreds of scar portraits and stories – encouraging many men, women and children all over the world to embrace the skin they are in.
Here at GLAMOUR HQ, we swear by the mantra ‘your beauty, your rules’, which is why we’ve long been avid followers of Behind The Scars, a photography campaign that celebrates scars of all shapes and sizes, and the incredible stories behind them.
Sadly for Sophie, Behind The Scars was removed from Facebook for ‘violating their terms and conditions’, making her ‘ineligible’ to use the platform. “As you can imagine, this is a hit for the project – as it only aims to empower, and give those who don’t have a voice a chance to share their stories,” Sophie told us.
Here, we asked her to pen a letter calling for change, explaining why, in 2019, women’s and mens empowered, beautiful, un-retouched bodies should not be removed, or censored from these platforms.
Behind the Scars challenges people’s perceptions. It goes beyond the physicality of the scar to the story and person behind it. It also challenges how we feel about ourselves, our own imperfections and the significance we attach to them. It encourages people to think differently.
The response when the project was first released was overwhelming. People made contact with me from across the world praising the project and its impact. It became a support network in its own right and its message spread quickly. People responded to its honesty, simplicity and imagery.
Social media has been key in the project’s development and reach, as well as its impact worldwide. Recently, however, this has been made more difficult, particularly on Instagram where hashtags have disappeared and images been removed. However, there have been no previous issues with Facebook whatsoever, which is why the removal of my personal and the Behind the Scars page came completely out of the blue.
They gave me no notice of their intention to remove my accounts or any reason for the removal beyond what appears to be a standard issue email response to my appeal stating “I have violated their community guidelines and I am ineligible to use the platform.”
I share the project both on Facebook and Instagram, where it used to appear regularly on Instagram’s ‘Explore’ page where it was more easily accessible, but is now subject to frequent censorship.
There has been a general clamp-down by Facebook in response to the Health Secretary’s call for social media to tighten up on protecting children from what they consider to be harmful online content, focusing particularly on the areas of self-harm and mental health. They do not appear to have considered individual accounts or projects on their own merits or fully understood the purpose and the benefits to so many of the Behind the Scars project whatsoever. Any self-harm stories have been purely about recovery and destigmatising conversations around mental health.
Facebook will not stop me fighting for the project and the people in it. This is not for Facebook to dictate. In this day and age, this page of empowered, beautiful, un-retouched bodies of both men and women should not be removed or censored from these platforms, it should be embraced.
I have appealed Facebook’s decision – and I am currently awaiting a response/ explanation as to why the account was removed, and if it will be reinstated.
In the meantime, I would like to thank all my Instagram followers, and the Behind the Scars community in general, for their incredible support. A lot are shocked and upset and want to help, a lot are worried as for some it has acted as a lifeline, a place to go and a place where they feel they belong.