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diversity and equality

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She tattooed half her face and you'd never know it. Her skills are just that good.

This incredible medical tattoo technology is giving renewed hope to burn victims.

All images via the CBS/YouTube

Basma Hameed runs a tattoo shop, of sorts...


Meet Samira Omar.

The 17-year-old was the victim of a horrific bullying incident.



A group of girls threw boiling water on her, leaving her badly burned and covered in scars and discoloration.

tattoo shop, hate crime, artistry

17-year-old Samira Omar

All images by CBC News/YouTube

She thought the physical scars would be with her forever — until she met Basma Hameed. Basma Hameed runs a tattoo shop, of sorts — but her tattoo artistry doesn't look like you'd expect. Basma is a paramedical tattoo specialist. Instead of tattooing vibrant, colorful designs, she uses special pigments that match the skin in order to conceal scars.

It looks like this:

human condition, diversity, equality

Basma looking at Samira’s facial scarring.

assets.rebelmouse.io

disabilities, health, reproductive rights,

Basma talking over the procedure.

assets.rebelmouse.io

body image, scarring, community

Visible scars and discoloration of the skin.

assets.rebelmouse.io

humanity, culture, treatment

Tattooing the visible scarring on her hand

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With Basma's help, patients like Samira can see a dramatic decrease in their scar visibility and discoloration after a few treatments. She even offers free procedures for patients who are unable to afford treatment. That's because Basma knows firsthand just how life-changing her work can be for those coping with painful scars left behind.

Check out the video below to find out more about Basma's practice, including how she became her very first patient.

This article originally appeared on 01.12.15

Photo from YouTube video.

Photo of Skylar.

Even though he was born "Katherine Elizabeth," Skylar lived like a regular little boy for most of his childhood.

He was happy.


This is Skylar.

A photo collection of a young Skylar.

Photo from YouTube video.

Little Skylar.

Photo from YouTube video.

But when puberty hit, he started feeling intense pressure to be "normal" and fit in. So he tried to present as more traditionally "feminine."

Puberty happens.

Photo from YouTube video.

But he couldn't shake the feeling that he was denying a huge part of himself. Late in high school, he started taking testosterone.

Eating and feeling more comfortable.

Photo from YouTube video.

Skylar started feeling more comfortable immediately. And before he knew it, he was at his "dream school," having the time of his life. And taking lots and lots of pictures of himself.

A person and their dog.

Photo from YouTube video.

Access to medical care played a big part in Skylar becoming the person he is today, but that wasn't all.

Check out his story and walk five years in his shoes. It's definitely a perspective we don't see often enough:

This article originally appeared on 08.30.14

Image by David Jay/ David Jay Photography.

Maj, Matt Smith at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.


Photographer David Jay specializes in fashion and beauty, stuff that's "beautiful and sexy — and completely untrue," as he puts it. But that's not all he photographs.

Three years ago, Jay began to take pictures of young, severely wounded soldiers returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Trigger warning: These portraits don't shy away from wounded bodies.


Be prepared. I found them shocking at first. But keep looking. The more I looked, the more beauty and humanity I found reflected here. (The photo captions are from the Jay's Unknown Soldier Project Facebook page. All images used with permission.)

military, body image, disabilities

Lt. Nicholas John Vogt, U.S. Army

Image by David Jay/ David Jay Photography.

This is 1st Lt. Nicholas John Vogt, U.S. Army. On Nov. 12, 2011, he was severely injured by an IED while on a foot-patrol in Panjwaii, Afghanistan. We took these pictures this past weekend in the swimming pool at Walter Reed Medical Center. I asked Nicholas for his permission to post these images and this was his response: "The only thing that I want to pass on is this: Losing limbs is like losing a good friend. We wish we could still be with them, but it wasn't 'in the cards.' Then we get up, remember the good times, and thank God for whatever we have left." Image by David Jay/ David Jay Photography. All images used with permission.

In a National Public Radio interview about his project, Jay said, "You can imagine how many times each of these men and women have heard a parent tell their child, 'Don't look. Don't stare at him. That's rude.'"

"I take these pictures so that we can look; we can see what we're not supposed to see. And we need to see them because we created them." — David Jay
photography, mental health, veteran rights

Taking a swim.

Image by David Jay/ David Jay Photography.

Jay wants us to see, to become even a little familiar with the tragic loss of limbs and burned skin of wounded vets — his portraits are 4 feet wide — but he also wants us to see them as people and to think about their experiences and those of people in their lives.

health, David Jay, The Unknown Soldier

Bobby Bernier with daughter Layla.

Image by David Jay/ David Jay Photography.

This past week, I went to San Antonio, Texas. There I had the privilege of photographing both Daniel Burgess and Bobby Bernier. They are friends. Daniel stepped on a IED, losing one leg and destroying the other. Bobby was hit by incoming artillery, sustaining burns over 60% of his body. He is pictured here with his daughter Layla.

IED, Maj. Matt Smith, Afghanistan

Maj, Matt Smith at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Image by David Jay/ David Jay Photography.

This is Maj. Matt Smith. This past week, Matt allowed me to photograph him in his room at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Less than three months ago, on June 8, 2013, in Paktika province, Afghanistan, Matt was shot along with five others by a member of the Afghan National Army. The bullet severed his femoral artery, resulting in the amputation of his leg. A private and soulful man, it was an honor to photograph him. Thank you, Maj. Smith.

disabled, war, amputee

Spc. Marissa Stock injured by an IED.

Image by David Jay/David Jay Photography.

burn victim, roadside bomb, survivor

Jerral Hancock survived a roadside bomb.

Image by David Jay/ David Jay Photography.

This is Jerral Hancock. He was driving a tank in Iraq. A roadside bomb pierced the armor, breaching the interior. We shot these pics two weeks ago at his home in Lancaster, California, where Jarral lives with his two beautiful children. We ended up hanging out into the night, smokin' ciggys ... so I kept taking pictures.

"To the men and women of The Unknown Soldier, I can't thank you enough for your courage and sacrifice ... both on and off the battlefield. It is an honor to photograph you." — David Jay
swimming, photography, internal injuries, Airborne Ranger

SFC Cedric King floats in the pool.

Image by David Jay/David Jay Photography.

On July 25, 2012, SFC Cedric King, an Airborne Ranger, was severely injured by an IED while serving his country in Afghanistan. Due to the explosion, Cedric sustained a multitude of internal and external injuries, losing both his legs. Cedric was doing his laps while I was photographing 1st Lt. Nicholas Vogt in the pool at Walter Reed Medical Center last week. Cedric kept watching, so I had to ask. Cedric said, “That man (Nicholas) doesn't know it, but he changed my life. There was a point when I was so down that I thought I couldn't go on. And then one day I saw him swimming ... and I just thought, wow ... if he can go on like that, then I can go on too." Cedric will also change people's lives. Already has.

Marine, foot-patrol, Afghan Army

Michael Fox, 27-year-old Marine.

Image by David Jay/David Jay Photography.

This is Michael Fox, a 27-year-old Marine and an amazing man. On Nov. 15, 2011, Michael was on foot-patrol in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. His is the first picture of "The Unknown Soldier."

The SCAR Project, battle-scarred, therapy

Staff Sgt. Shilo Harris in Houston, Texas.

Image by David Jay/David Jay Photography.

This past weekend, I photographed Staff Sgt. Shilo Harris in Houston, Texas. He came up from San Antonio to see one of my other exhibitions, The SCAR Project (www.thescarproject.org). Shilo was severely burned on Feb. 19, 2007, by a roadside bomb estimated at 700 pounds. He lost three men out of a crew of five. Only Shilo and his driver survived the blast. Shilo has a book coming out soon. He is truly an amazing man, and I am honored to call him a friend.

"The Unknown Soldier is about neither war or politics ... but rather something infinitely simpler and more powerful." — David Jay
healing, medicine, remedy, hope

Thomas Young in Kansas City, MO.

Image by David Jay/ David Jay Photography.

The Library of Congress has acquired images from Jay's The Unknown Soldier project as part of its documentation of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This speaks to the power of these images in capturing war's aftermath. But they are so much more than documentation.

Pictures like these help those of us who remain at home to begin to comprehend the true human cost of war.


This article originally appeared on 05.31.15

Gerod Roth's racist Facebook post.


Gerod Roth posted a photo of himself with a coworker's child last month.

And while it might not be immediately obvious why this was such a mistake, well ... let me tell you.

The initial photo, screencapped and tweeted above by Twitter user Dr. X, is seemingly adorable. But the comments and Roth's intent soon turned rather ugly.


Roth had snapped the pic of his coworker's 3-year-old son, Cayden, without his coworker's permission (already an incredibly uncool thing to do) and proceeded to use it as his profile picture.

After it was posted online, his Facebook friends filled the photo's comment section with hurtful, racist "jokes":

"I didn't know you were a slave owner."

"Dude where the hell did you get a black kid??"

"Kunta Kinte."

"But Massuh, I dindu nuffin."

Roth replied in the thread, "He was feral."

Yep. Real comments from real people ... aimed at a 3-year-old. Because of his skin color.

Of course, this being on the Internet and all, Cayden's mom quickly learned about the awful things being said about her child.

The funny thing about the Internet is, things get around. And before long, Cayden's mom, Sydney Shelton, heard about what this coworker had done at her child's expense.

"He is a well-loved, fun-loving, hyper-active and typical three-year-old," Shelton told Fox 5 News, adding there was nothing funny about that post.

Roth told the outlet he was disappointed in his friends' reactions to the photo and insisted that his own comment had only been "interpreted as racist," even though he hadn't meant it that way.

Shelton wasn't buying it.

“People post things in a [joking] manner and it gets taken a completely different way," Shelton acknowledged. "But I don't believe any of these people were joking."

Instead of firing back at Roth with a few choice words, Shelton responded by letting the world see the real Cayden.

She posted several photos of her smiley, adorable son to Facebook, accompanied with the hashtag #HisNameIsCayden.

Cayden Jace, racism, equality, social media

Cayden Jace and mom.

Image via Sydney Shelton/Facebook.

The Internet caught wind of #HisNameIsCayden. And unlike Roth's friends on Facebook, there were some really fabulous responses.

Britt Turner, a woman from Phoenix, was so inspired by Cayden's story that she decided to launch a GoFundMe to raise money for Cayden's college fund.

"Instead of continuing to shed light on all of the dark aspects of this horrible act, I would like to shed a lot of light onto the good things," Turner wrote on the fundraising page. "This young man has a full life ahead of him. I wanted to create this for Cayden, simply for that reason alone.”

In the aftermath of the comments on the initial photo revealing Roth's penchant for racist humor, Roth has since lost his job.

Michael Da Graca Pinto, president of Polaris Marketing Group, where Roth had been employed, shared a statement on the company's Facebook page about the incident. He, too, was not happy about what had happened and assured followers that Roth had been fired on Sept. 29 (although he claimed it was due to unrelated issues at work):

"It breaks my heart that Sydney and her adorable son Cayden were subjected to such hateful, ignorant and despicable behavior. Cayden visits my office almost every afternoon after daycare, he's sat at my dinner table and I consider him a part of the PMG family. The atrocious lies, slander and racism he and his mother have been forced to endure are wholly intolerable. Myself and the entire PMG family in no way condones this kind of behavior and would never willingly associate with anyone who does."

Sometimes the Internet can be a truly awful place...

But the times when overwhelming love trumps mean-spirited hate, victory tastes so sweet. Keep being awesome, Cayden.


This article has been updated. It was originally appeared on 10.06.15