Monday, June 23, 2014

Facial Scarring Is No Reason To Hang Your Head

Dear Tazi:

Several years ago I was in a fire. I escaped with my life but I suffered horrible burns, especially to my face. I now have a great deal of scarring and facial deformity that I have learned to live with, or so I thought.

My wife and I just got divorced, and I am working on starting a new life without her. I have moved to a new city and have started a new job (I worked for my ex-wife's family business, and it was just too weird to continue after the divorce). I know that I am not ready to start dating yet, but I would like to make some new friends. This is where the problem with my face starts.

I am not blind, Tazi. Luckily, the fire did not damage my eye-sight. I know how I look, and I know that my scars make people wince when they look at me and then turn away, embarrassed. I can't say I blame them - granted, I was never a George Clooney or a Brad Pitt, but now I have been known to frighten small children; and I want to know how I can tell people that it's okay to look me in the face, that I understand the human desire to stare in horrified fascination. I just don't want to put it so bluntly, because I don't want to offend anyone, especially when I am trying to make friends. Do you know how to put what I want to say into words, Tazi?

Frank N. Stein

Dear Frank N. Stein:

Oh, I just caught onto that joke! Your self-deprecating humor caught me off-guard. [Ed. Note: Say the name Frank N. Stein really fast]. Your sense of humor is quite endearing, as is your sense of acceptance over your injuries.

You are correct in understanding that when people see someone who looks different there is an uncontrollable desire to stare. Be it a person of exceptional beauty or a person who has suffered a facial deformity, it is human nature to want to pause and examine that which we do not see every day. Your comment that you "have been known to scare small children" tells me that your scarring must be pretty bad, making me think that people who meet you for the first time are caught off guard and do not know how to act/react. They may be wondering how you managed to survive such damaging injuries but do not wish to pry into your personal life. I would not call this "horrified fascination" (though it might be for some, most people are sympathetic to injuries).

The next time you meet - or meet up - with someone who appears to be uncomfortable with your scars, try to put them at ease by simply stating the facts: that you were in a terrible fire, but managed to escape. You can joke that your injuries actually did more damage than can be seen - that before the fire you could have passed for George Clooney's twin brother. Humor generally puts people at ease, and shows the world that you are strong enough to take the questions and curious looks that people might send you way.

Once you have established yourself in your new job and new community, people will feel more at ease with you as they get to know you as a person, and not as a person who stands out in a crowd. Before too long, the friends you make will not even notice your scars because they will be seeing your inner beauty instead of your outer packaging.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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