Our Scars Don’t Define Us

Black and white portrait of burn victim

Many of you know that I spent about 10 years working on a series called Skeleton in the Closet, telling the stories of people with eating disorders.  I also spent another several years working on Astra Velum, exploring how women often feel that their freckles are flaws.  I wanted to show them as something beautiful.

So it seemed a natural fit for me to work with Indira on her project Blissful13.  When she called me up, she explained that she’d experienced severe burns on her body as a toddler in Bosnia, and has lived with the consequences ever since.  She tells her story like this:

Friday the 13th, April 1984 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Exactly 6 months from my birthday. My mother made every day’s usual – turkish coffee and had intentions to enjoy spring sunny morning. She set the coffee on the table and walked towards the balcony to direct a delivery person what to do with the big truck full of crap – yes literally it was some kind of garden soil. She saw me follow her in a walking stroller but since I couldn’t make it past the door I turned around and decided to flip the tray of hot coffee onto myself instead. My mother immediately put me under the cold running water, took my baby clothes off and called for help to be taken to the hospital. At the local hospital they have given her pediatric IV to feed me with a spoon and sent her to another hospital in Croatia where I was hospitalized for two months.

Intimage portrait of burn victimArtistic portrait of burn victim

After a lifetime of hiding her scars, Indira wanted to go public.  To reveal them.  And in doing so, to help others.

This is me being raw with you, at 33 years old, and for the first time publicly revealing my scars and sharing my journey in hopes to inspire and encourage others. Or simply to say that life doesn’t end here nor do our scars define us. It took time and hard work to come to this point in my life, I finally came to terms with the label – Burn Survivor. I have learned to accept my 3rd degree burns, I don’t love them. However, if this second chapter of my journey provides some comfort to you, I am very certain that I will eventually learn to love them. It is time we look beyond our scars and start truly living and showing the world our worth and what we have to offer.

Photo portrait of burn victimVibrant portrait of burn victim

I was so honored to be able to spend several hours with her in the studio, creating something beautiful out of something many would want to hide.  I have so much respect for Indira and her courage and beauty, and am really proud to have my photographs featured on her new website, www.blissful13.com.    You’ve got to check it out.  It’s beautiful.

Portrait of runner in Portland OregonPortrait of runner stretching in Portland, Oregon

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