Living with Burn Scars and How to React to Stares

Written by unknown on August 30, 2019

Personal Growth
Bullying + Harassment
Social Interactions

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 (Rehearse 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 the conversation


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