53-year-old Carol Mayer from Queensland, Australia suffered 85 percent burns in a house fire two decades ago.
The former beauty queen, who was told she had only a 50 percent chance of survival following the incident, has posed naked for breathtaking photos.
Captured by London-native Brian Cassey, the powerful portrait named ‘The Skin I’m In’ has been shortlisted for the Portrait of Humanity 2020 award.
Both Carol and her son survived the horrific blaze, but Carol was left with life-altering injuries. Now 53, the former beauty queen says: “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.
“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.”
Carol added: “The biggest thing with burns is, you can only get better; you can’t get worse. Say you have a person with cancer, if the cancer comes back, or it’s terminal, you might have a certain time to live.
“With burns you know that you will improve, you’ve got to be very patient, you learn to accept that this is just how it is, and you get this art of being patient.”
The former beauty queen said the most difficult moment during the pictorial was removing her headband, which gives her a sense of comfort and femininity.
“When Brian first approached me, the first thing I thought about was taking my headband off,” she expressed. “I normally wear a headband because it makes me feel secure and I feel naked without it.
“And for me that was the “oh wow” moment because it was a big step for me. I’ve already lost a lot of my femininity, parts of my fingers, parts of my ears, without my headband I thought this is what you call a raw image.”
Carol added: “I felt I was really putting myself out there, but I thought this is for a good cause, this is for people to realise; number one, your life can be gone in a heartbeat, number two, you need a fighting spirit, and number three, it’s about accepting, moving forward and holding your head up high.
“I wanted to show people you don’t have to be afraid to show the true human that you really are.
“Some people hide themselves away when they have so much to give, and by doing this people can see, well this woman, look at what she’s been through, but she’s still making the best of what she has.
“There’s a message in this portrait.”
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