Photographer Kate T. Parker has dedicated a new photo series to helping kids be proud of their scars.
Parker, who is the author of a series titled "Strong is the New Pretty," partnered with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) to highlight the fact that scars are nothing to be ashamed of.
The series features children with injuries that range from broken bones to birth defects.
"'Strong is the new pretty' features young women and girls. It's about girls being who they are, embracing who they are — [and] that is beautiful,” said Parker. "The hospital had seen that project and wanted to do a spin on it to show that the children’s scars are something to be proud of and that they are there to help them get stronger."
Parker described that the kids were in fact proud of their scars and said that they serve as an example to adults. Meg Flynn, who is part of the team at the hospital, said the kids were an inspiration to her.
"The idea has been on the whiteboard here for a couple of months. I was in an accident about a year ago and I have a scar on my chin. I have tried so hard to cover it with makeup even though it’s not a big deal,” Flynn said. “There’s an abrupt difference in how the kids see their scars. There is no attempt to cover it up.”
Flynn said it was extremely humbling to watch the July photo shoots unfold, and Parker said the children’s outlooks on their scarring really struck her.
Parker said one of the children, Anna, made her realize the beauty of scars. Anna was born with clubfoot, a birth defect in which the foot is twisted out of shape or position. Anna told her, “If I didn’t have any scars, I couldn’t walk.”
“The scars are a life changing thing for her,” said Parker. “She was at the age where you could be embarrassed about it but she wasn't.”
Les Lane, 7, who was born with a cleft lip and palate, said he enjoyed shooting with Parker.
“It was good and she was nice,” said Les. “She knew I was an outdoors man,” said Les, so Parker shot his photos outside where he would be more comfortable.
Cierra Walsh, 16, has a scar from surgery to remove a tumor from her right femur and a new bone put in. She said the photo shoot really helped her to appreciate her scar, which she’s struggled with in the past.
“My scars have been something that has been really hard for me to deal with,” Walsh. "I chose the least extreme surgery I could have gotten. I was nervous to see how the photos would turn out and how I would react. It took some time to edit them. I was anxious. I was worried that I would see them and not have the reaction that I wanted.”
But, that wasn’t the case when she finally saw them. “It really gave me a chance to appreciate the scars, what they really mean to me, and what they say about me as a person. I could say for the first time I like this scar and appreciate what it adds to me instead of looking at how it limits me."
Each of the photos in the series includes a quote from the child that was taken from something they said during their photo shoots. Les’ Mom said it was really nice that Parker captured their individual personalities and not just a photo of their scars.
“For our team, it’s been especially rewarding to see the families of the featured kiddos chiming in to the comments section of the various posts and articles,” said Flynn. “From moms and dads to grandparents and aunts and uncles, they’re excited and proud to say, ‘That’s our kid!’”
The pictures took off on social media and have now reached hundreds of thousands of people, and even prompted others with scars to start sharing their own photos.
“When these 10 families agreed to sacrifice one hour of one summer day to meet Kate for a photo shoot, they had no idea they’d be participating in something that would have an impact on people all over the world,” Flynn said.