Nichola Cotto is a genuine original
and she wants to see your scars
The first thing you notice about Nick is the beautiful glow of a satisfied soul. As a naturalized citizen from England, she is on a mission to reach every woman or girl in the nation, and eventually the world, who feels less-than because of a physical—or invisible—scar. She says, “I don’t believe in the word ‘broken’ as it might apply to a person. Women and girls should never be made to feel broken or different, and I want to show them they do not have to hide.”
Nick founded We Are Not Broken in 2019 in Georgetown. It is the first and only organization of its kind, and she has already certified January 17 as national and international We Are Not Broken Day.
A NEW NON-PROFIT
Nick believes while there are many organizations that do research for cures or support recovery via myriad therapies, giving women the opportunity to voice their struggles and highlight their courage is her calling.
Her goal is to provide a professional photo shoot and video for women and girls who have surgical scars, injuries, stretch marks, memories of abuse, or anything that makes them feel bad about themselves. “There is no discrimination here about what your scars might be; just an openness in a community of people who have had trauma. Trauma comes in many forms, and there are women who may look lovely and put together, but who have a war going on inside them. We don’t know what they are going through, and, in my studio, there is no judgment; they are all totally beautiful and I am here to listen and serve.”
With a colorful background that includes professional dance, world travel, fitness training, and strength conditioning, she says photography has been a parallel passion since she was nine years old and bought her first camera.
Having gone through some health challenges herself, when her husband retired from military service, she asked herself, “What do I want to do with the second half of my life?” After receiving a new camera as a gift, she spent a full year studying and opened a studio.
Her new calling came when a friend visited and they decided to spend the day taking photos of “whatever.” Her friend had undergone a double mastectomy and had scars from front to back. “We decided to do something different and raw. She took her top off and she had a massive tattoo of a butterfly on her back that looked as though it had been meant to fall just on her scars. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.”
Nick was so struck by the image that she asked if she could post to her Facebook page. She invited people to contact her if they wanted similar photos of their scars or anything that made them insecure. “It’s wasn’t about helping people with body shaming or vanity. I felt a Godly calling to be a little light of love.”
After posting the photos, she went back to her daily routine without much thought.
The next day her inbox was completely filled with requests. “I heard a voice saying, ‘This is what I want you to do, and you should call it We Are Not Broken.’ I had no experience in non-profits, but I was up at 2am many nights doing research; then God kept the first of many promises; I got my credentials in a third of the time it usually takes.”
Nick continued to ask God what he wanted her to do; she volunteered at Celebration Church and gave out free photo sessions while building on relationships and raising money to add a mobile photo studio to her toolkit.
One night I sat up and drew a picture of a trailer and posted a call on social media for anyone who would like to donate a trailer. “I wanted to take We Are Not Broken on the road to women who can’t come to me. Again, the answer was a 1969 camper that looked exactly like my drawing, and was even yellow and white, the colors in our logo.”
One Year Later
Nick photographed 80 women in her first year, and for each video, she keeps the camera rolling until the subject says, “I am beautiful, and this is me.” She held her first gala last summer and is planning the 2020 event for August. Since God also told her to think bigger, she has already launched the program in England and is eagerly awaiting funding and opportunity to visit Mozambique with Celebration’s ministries, to photograph the women of Africa and tell their stories.
YOU…ARE NOT BROKEN
If you would like to tell your story, visit WeAreNotBroken.org to submit your information. Professional photo shoots are scheduled on Mondays and some Saturdays. Nick has a volunteer who will do provide hair and makeup; “It’s not glamour,” she says, “we just want to bring out your natural beauty.” Models never pay a penny and all of the photos are yours to keep and post as you choose.
Nick is also working on a coffee table book of scars and hopes to have it for release at their 2020 gala August 29. “I want young girls to come see me, so when they are bullied, they have the confidence given to them by a total stranger to say, ‘Oh no, I am a model and I’m beautiful. I’m even in a book.’”
I want to speak, and help others to speak, about not covering up our physicality when it’s not our fault.
This is about breath, and being a daughter.
I want each woman and girl to know that they are enough, and they can turn their trauma into triumph by sharing their stories.
“Adele” is 63 years old. She was abused as a child, and before We Are Not Broken, she had never told anyone what happened to her.
“I can still feel the gun metal against my head, but today I can say, ‘I forgive you.’” Adele went on, in her video, to forgive several people who hurt her in her life.
Support Nick’s mission by donating or volunteering at WeAreNotBroken.org.