Your Scars Are Beautiful
Updated: Dec 31, 2020
Together we can work towards BREAKING BEAUTY BARRIERS.
I have spent the last few years of my life struggling with the concept of beauty. I stand in the mirror (38-year young I like to say) and am starting to grieve the loss of youthful beauty. I have been plagued with a terrible fear of getting "old" because society rarely calls older women beautiful. Men get to be silver foxes, and women, turn to hags. Guys can get road rash and it makes them cool, women tend to hide and are ashamed when we even have freaking pimples.
It's a pretty high standard to live up to, our breasts sag after children, our legs get cellulite, crows feet appear, wrinkly necks...... I can't tell you how many times as a photographer I am asked to edit out these "imperfections" and it breaks my heart.
I have to admit, many years ago, I modeled and was very comfortable in front of a camera - in fact, jumped in front of one anytime I could. Now, I feel the pressure of being perfect, I hear the echoes of those pressures in my clients' pleas to alter their images and I hate it. For years I have hated my lines on my face, my thinning hair, and crow's feet, my cellulite and flabby arms, and I so intensely have wanted to band together with other women and redefine what beauty really means......
A few weeks ago, Tara Heinze, an artist from Stockton, California, reached out to me to get headshots for a book who was publishing her story. She carried the gene that would likely lead to breast cancer, so she was heavily encouraged by her doctors to get a double mastectomy and to get implants while under the knife. Tara went through with the removal and reconstruction in 2013, but since then has suffered an incredible amount of pain and sickness from what is called Breast Implant Illness. Instead of suggesting to remove her implants, her doctors continued to put her under the knife for a total of 16 surgeries. While healing, yet still not well from her 16th, a friend sent her a Facebook group for BII and when she entered it became clear that she just wanted them out completely. In August of 2019, she removed her implants to wrap up a total of 17 surgeries within a seven and a half year span.
Her story was that the idea of what a woman was, or that breasts were a portion of the definition of feminine beauty was quite literally making her sick and it wasn't until she let that go did she feel the most beautiful. Her story moved me so much and ignited this passion project I have been dreaming about for years.
I am taking this moment to hopefully open some eyes and hearts, to those women who feel weakened by the pressures of society's definition of beautiful, or to think that those wrinkles and lines aren't stunning depictions of the wisdom you have, to be raw, to be open and to declare, in the words of Alessia Cara, No scars to your beautiful, we're stars and we're beautiful.
Below is a collection of images from what was supposed to be a simple headshot session, and turned into some of the most beautiful and powerful images I have ever taken. Thank you, Tara, for being real and honest, for being brave enough to show the world what real beauty is.
I am speechless.
I will am continually looking to uplift and showcase courageous women just like these. I want to raise awareness and change the face of beauty in this world. Let's break beauty barriers together. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Photography by Shannon Lea Rock, owner of Preserve Studio