How Do I Handle Myself When Someone Stares (at My Burn Scars)?

Group stares at a youth with burn scars.Let's face it, when we see something different, unusual, or curious, we look.  Or even stare.  It is actually a very normal, human behavior.  And it is a reality of life that when we look different—colorful tattoos, unique dress, or burn scars—people may stare at us, too.

So, how do we handle ourselves when someone stares, comments, or perhaps is rude about our appearance, disfigurement, or burn scars? 

The first reaction may be to "tell someone off" or to retreat socially and withdraw from interactions with people. But these behaviors aren’t the best or healthiest long-term solutions and may leave you feeling frustrated, resentful, and bitter. While it is difficult to change the public and their initial reactions to a burn injury or burn scars, we have the power and responsibility for OUR reactions to staring.

We wish to share some tools and tips to help you fully engage in life around you without being overwhelmed by stares, awkward reactions, or perceived reactions.  This attached guide gives burn survivors and loved ones tips and methods to 'rehearse' some empowering and easy-to-use responses—and also offers techniques to build social confidence, restore personal dignity, and engage in life with joy and self-assurance.

 “It is more empowering to be remembered as a friendly, warm person who happens to have a facial or body difference rather than someone angry, fearful and uncomfortable with himself”   

 —Barbara Kammerer Quayle

These tools include:

  • STEPS: how to gain social comfort and confidence with your changed appearance or burn scars
  • RYR (Rehears Your Response): how to answer questions about your burn injury
  • The ‘Staring Tool’: why people stare and how to respond to stares
  • The Art of Conversation: how to initiate or shift conversation

Download the guide

Find more resources on "Beyond Surviving, Tools for Thriving After a Burn Injury", developed in collaboration with Barbara Kammerer Quayle.

 

Comment on This Post


Login or Register to post comments.

Recent Comments


Yo    Moderate:
1:49am - May 18, 2016

Great recourse and steps   !! Take it a day at a time . This article is helpful and insightful . Reminder “mind or matter”. Love yourself always no matter what it will change your life after burns. Keep your mind strong the rest will fall in place.

Jeanne    Moderate:
10:45am - Mar 4, 2016

Thanks for sharing your experience, Joe - we are so glad to hear that you are thriving!  Phoenix Society

not your average joe    Moderate:
4:37pm - Mar 2, 2016

It is not easy to learn to like yourself again and to be comfortable with your appearance in social settings after an appearance altering burn injury, but after 38 years of living with scars it is well worth the effort. We cannot always control what happens to us in this life but we can control how we react. i was 29 years old when i was burned and i have now lived longer as a burn survivor and i am still enjoying life. Not your average joe.