the scar project breast cancer scars
photo: david jay 'the scar project'

We can’t stop thinking about The Scar Project, a series of photographs by fashion photographer David Jay of women under 40 who have survived breast cancer; they openly reveal the dramatic scars left by surgery. The photos are completely arresting: very beautiful and at times difficult to look at.

But it’s that difficulty that makes them important. They challenge the usual view: of what’s beautiful and what’s private and what’s sexy. 

scar project breast cancer awareness
photo: david jay 'the scar project'

The photographs are perhaps particularly striking because the women are so young and as a culture, we tend to ascribe tremendous value to the “perfect” young female body. They ask us to examine our own impossible notions of perfection and the shame that often accompanies them. It’s that perfectionism and shame that so often keeps us from taking risks, doing any number of things, or just feeling OK in the morning.

The Scar Project pushes back against the old idea of ‘perfect’ to reveal a new one that is full of courage, honesty and acceptance. Most importantly, it embraces the scars that often map our lives.

See the slideshow here.

Buy the book here.

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9 replies on “the scar project

  1. Thanks for posting this–what an amazing slide show, what brave and beautiful women! I have only a few lumpectomy scars (and I’m well over 40, though still vain about my body), but they are a constant and welcome reminder of vulnerablility and mortality.

  2. Thanks so much for your comment. I have pretty major scars on my arms from car and cooking accidents, so there’s no possibility of me for the usual perfect feminine hand/arm thing. I decided long ago that they are indeed evidence of a life being lived, and a reminder of vulnerability and the unexpected paths that we often have to walk.

  3. “The photographs are perhaps particularly striking because the women are so young and as a culture, we tend to ascribe tremendous value to the “perfect” young female body.”

    This goes beyond being young… this project, although focused on younger women, touches women of all ages facing this ugly disease… we never escape the feeling of needing to be perfect in what society views as perfection. These photos show that beauty goes beyond what perfection has been percieved as…

  4. Thank YOU, David Jay, for undertaking the project and sharing it the way you have. Although it crossed my mind that posting it might be too intense for some readers, it turns out to have been one of the most visited posts last month. I am sure your work will continue to resonate, with its vital and liberating message.

  5. Thank you so much for these thought evoking photographs! These women are incredible, as you are; for the sensitivity shown to them and for them. I should say; for us. I am closer to 60 than 40 but I am still a woman and age will never change that. My scars are my badges of courage and I share that with each and every woman that has faced breast cancer.

  6. Thank you for helping me feel more comfortable in my skin. A priceless gift.
    -cancer and double mastectomy at 37.

  7. These women are amazing! Boldly sharing their beauty through these images will hopefully help all women to embrace their own bodies with the knowledge that true beauty emanates from within. So many women waste their time and money striving for outer perfection in our society. I wish women could realize that we are who we are, and when we accept ourselves as we truly are the world can enjoy and embrace us! I would like to thank the photographer and the women that he photographed for giving this gift of perspective to those who view these images.

  8. David, a million thank you’s aren’t enough. You are an inspiration to artists and humanity…. love the whole person .

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