Carol Mayer, Burn Survivor And Former Beauty Queen, Sends A Powerful Message With Her Nude Portrait
Humanity and empathy go hand in hand. We are meant to feel bad about another living being’s pain and anyone who lacks any empathy is treated as someone that requires clinical help. And what does empathy make us do? We try to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and attempt to understand how they must have felt. But sometimes, we find it difficult to even begin to imagine how it feels because never in our lives have we come anywhere close experiencing what that person has gone through.
How can we imagine how it feels to be on fire? Or to be living with burns? We cry even when we get a slight burn so how do we even begin to imagine that? We can’t but we know it must require immense strength, courage, and altering of perceptions to survive such a sharp turn in your life.
Around 20 years ago, Carol Mayer was 33 when her house caught a massive fire and she suffered 85 per cent burns on her body. She was a beauty queen from Cairns, Queensland, Australia and is a mother of a son. She doesn’t recollect of how it all went down and just knows that she and her son managed to escape and survive.
With her body covered in burn scars, she was surprised when Brian Cassey, a photographer and photojournalist asked her if he could do her portrait. It would require her to expose her scarred body and with a lot of courage, she decided to do it. They collaborated to create some stunning, powerful portraits titled ‘The Skin I’m In’. Carol told DailyMail, “With burns it is physically and mentally hard for any human to go through. But if you’ve got that real fighting spirit, which is what I have, that’s what has got me through, sheer grit and determination.” She further added, “I just wasn’t going to let it beat me and when Brian approached me, I just thought this is a fantastic opportunity to show somebody the raw side of me.”
She had a 50% chance of survival. Mayor was in a coma for eight weeks and in ICU for nine months. Today, she is brave enough to speak of her story and hopes that it will help other survivors find their strength. “You’re always trying to find something in a photograph that is meaningful and different and perhaps can make a little difference,” Mayor told ABC News. “I just thought, ‘What a fantastic idea, to just put it out for other burns survivors to see’,” she concluded.
Her portrait has been nominated for the Portrait of Humanity 2020 award, organised by the British Journal of Photography. In September, 100 winners will be displayed on a screen 111,000ft above Earth like never before.