Photographer Sophie Harris-Taylor knows what it means to live with a skin condition. As a teenager and throughout her early twenties, Sophie suffered from severe acne. It really affected her self-esteem, making her feel shame and embarrassment. Luckily, over the years she learned how to live with it.

Now, she's using her medium to give others the opportunity to do the same. In hopes to open up the conversation about skin, she created a portrait series called Epidermis. While normality is usually defined by the images we see all around us, we are led to believe all women have idealized, flawless skin. But they don't. Many women live with conditions such as acne, rosacea, and eczema and many of them feel pressure to hide them behind a mask of makeup. For her project, however, Sophie showed these beautiful women unashamed of their bare skin.

More info: sophieharristaylor.com | Instagram | Facebook |Twitter

#1

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 "Being diagnosed with an incurable skin condition at a young age had an enormous impact on me. I felt like I had no control over my appearance, my self-confidence was destroyed, and I felt fearful of my future." – Lex

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Johanne Trudeau 1 week ago

Rosacea - and she's a ginger which makes them more susceptible to this...

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Epidermis is a series that was born out of Sophie's personal and commercial projects where she has about 10 years of experience. "I'm interested in the human condition," she told Bored Panda. "Typically portraiture based, often with some elements of place and surrounding, I use people to express my own pre-occupations and concerns."

#2

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“My acceptance of eczema as a feature of mine that will wax and wane rather than a flaw to be constantly fought in an attempt to rid myself of it.” - Issey

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Bleu Andersen 1 week ago

I had eczema over my eye and on my neck when I was young. A long lemon/liver cleanse and it has been gone for 25 years. The medicine the doctor gave me affected my eyesight and barely worked to relieve my symptoms. I'm glad I found a cure.

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"Most of my personal projects seem to come from my own life experiences and throughout there is always some element of my own vulnerability," she explained. "I began to reflect on my own past and feelings towards my skin, I’d suffered from severe acne. Back then, there were no idols, role models and people to look up to who had anything but flawless skin. Which obviously meant I struggled with my own self image. We’ve come a long way since then, what with body positivity and generally people speaking out about beauty standards and promoting diversity. However I still felt that there was a lack in representing skin in an honest and open way. Epidermis for me was a way of showcasing beautiful women in skins less often seen."

#3

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“[It] caused me constant physical and mental pain. It was completely unbearable. But I wouldn’t change it as it has made me so much more confident and strong.” – Mariah

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Johanne Trudeau 1 week ago

Good for you, it doesn't detract from your beauty...

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Sophie wanted to not only start a discussion about skin, she hoped this work could also empower other people, making them feel more comfortable in their own skin. "It’s still something I personally struggle with but hope one day I can practice what I preach. With a lot of these kinds of series, there’s an element of trying to shock, but that was the opposite of what I was trying to achieve. I really wanted Epidermis to be seen as a beauty shoot first, and a commentary on skin second."

#4

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Stevie 1 week ago

She is beautiful! I can't imagine how much some of her acne has to hurt her

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And it worked, in huge part thanks to the beautiful models in front of Sophie's camera. "My casting was quite social media based," she said. "I approached a few people who were already sharing their skin stories and through this finding a voice and an outlook."

"Once I’d started sharing a few photos, it was much easier to put out an open casting as people realized it wasn’t in any way exploitative and I was actually trying to find beauty in this."

#5

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"I prefer not wearing makeup and letting my skin breathe. When I was younger, I would never leave without wearing makeup. I can’t remember the point when I stopped caring but now I’ll happily wander about without it. In the evenings if I go out, I like the transformational element of wearing makeup. I’ve moved away from using makeup as a way of covering up my skin but see it as more of an artistic venture.” – Annie

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How Terribly Unfortunate 1 week ago

Good for her!

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After working on the series, Sophie believes she's realized that we are a lot more self-conscious of our image than one could imagine. "I think that’s true in most things. I was genuinely amazed by the reception the series had and the coverage it received. I’ve had personal messages from people all over the world thanking me for shedding light on the subject. I think it shows that the more open and honest we are about these things, the less alone people feel and the less stigmatized they become."

The photographer added that it’s important for us all to take responsibility and set an example for the younger generation by embracing the things that make us unique.

#6

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Menecairiel 1 week ago

She is an absolutely stunning woman!

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#7

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“I can see that vulnerability but instead of belittling it and interpreting it as a negative thing, I think it comes across as powerful. Usually, we take pictures from our best angles to hide the things we dislike, but these pictures confront those features and make you realize that maybe those things really aren’t that bad after all.” - Charlotte

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Sabienn 1 week ago

Does she dislike her freckles? I think they're cute, I love freckles!

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#8

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Eddie Maurer 1 week ago

I think you're beautiful

#9

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I stopped taking opportunities because I felt I could amount to nothing because my skin looked a certain way. I have grown so much over the years and these thoughts and beliefs subsided. I have grown so much with my confidence and I couldn't be happier.” - Abi

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Makayla Bolton 1 week ago

I think this might have been taken from an awkward angle, but she is still beautiful

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#10

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“I'm personally trying to re-train myself in how I understand what beauty actually is.” - Ezinne

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Naomi 1 week ago

I agree. Beauty is embracing your features, not hiding them.

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#11

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“It sounds quite trivial but as someone with already low confidence, having bad skin often leaves me worrying about if others are staring at me, and I find a lot of my time is occupied with negative thoughts about my self image- something I know is really unhealthy and I’d actively love to alter.” - Charlotte

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RJ 1 week ago

This is how I had it too. I'd put it full w that filthy camouflage stuff. I felt so ugly, I didn't comb my hair anymore either. Still remember a guy came sit next to me in math class and I thought: wow what a friendly guy, sitting next to this monstrosity. I got irritated so I shaved em and then it became like this. My dad took me to the doc. I got the Diane pill and within a few months it was gone.

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#12

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“My skin has always affected me. I've always been a naturally confident person in every other aspect of my life but if I think someone is looking at or judging my skin, I will instantly feel self-conscious.” - Sarah

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Adeniji Wasilah 1 week ago

Cool hair

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#13

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"I was embarrassed to even step foot outside my house. The thought of people looking at all the "problems" on my face gave me anxiety. I just wanted to hide my face from everyone. It's been a difficult process, but I feel more empowered and I stopped caring what people think of my skin anymore. At the end of the day, it's just skin. It shouldn't dictate my entire life. Though my skin has gotten better ever since I started taking better care of my body, I've accepted that I may never have perfect skin. And that's okay.” -Joice 

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Marlene Ricker 6 days ago

She is right. Accepting ourselves as imperfect beings is the first step to true happiness.

#14

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"As I have gotten older, I have realized that skin isn't naturally smooth, even, untextured and that none of the faces I looked at in real life looked like my 'ideal' skin. That's not to say I don't sometimes stop and look in the mirror and feel ashamed of my face, particularly if I'm out and about with no makeup on, but I've learned that those thoughts aren't useful and try not to obsess over them.” - Izzy

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Marlene Ricker 6 days ago

Obsessing over our flaws, no matter what form they take, is unhealthy for our minds. Learning to accept them will give you new life. After all, no one is perfect!

#15

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Ashley Nell 1 week ago

I think you're beautiful, just the way that you are.

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#16

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Sabienn 1 week ago

I also have acne on my back... Only the top half of my back, and I think it's because I had a very bad sunburn one time. Because I didn't have acne on my back before that sunburn. Use sunscreen everybody!

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#17

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Kelli 1 week ago

Beautiful & sassy sexy pose, and I'm so jealous of her gorgeous hair!

#18

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Troy Currie 6 days ago

I think she fell asleep waiting for the camera guy to get ready...

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#19

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“I’m annoyed at myself that I spent so long thinking people would judge my personality based on my skin. I guess you’re always your own worst critic. I'm close to a place where I'm accepting that I'll never have perfect skin, and that's okay.” – Alice

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Alexandra Ghobrial 5 days ago

You are beautiful, and skin doesn't matter! Just as long as you are nice to everyone, people will love you the way you are!

#20

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sydney 1 week ago

Reminds me of the kind of classic beauty the masters (painters) used to paint.

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#21

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"My self esteem has continually decreased as the acne progressed. Most recently I've become more introverted though I'm naturally more of an extrovert. I've noticed I'm also a lot more critical and sensitive about myself even beyond my skin.” – Ezinne

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Diana 1 week ago

This is exactly what is happening with me too... Acne can really change one's face and personality as well :(

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#23

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Marlene Ricker 6 days ago

Your eyes say you are a fun person to be with. Go with that and nobody will notice the imperfections!

#26

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Marlene Ricker 6 days ago

A very beautiful lady!

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#28

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Nancy Cochoy 1 week ago

We have been so programmed by the entertainment and model industry to be intolerant of anything less than perfect !!

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