The Importance of Battle Scars


I really enjoyed today’s offering over on the Average Jane Crafter blog, where she discusses the loss of an important scar that made her feel like the hard core crafter that she is:

"The needle finally gave and came through the fabric, but not before I'd chipped a chunk out of my front tooth. It looked wonky, but it became my greatest battle scar of all, and every time I'd run my tongue over the jagged spot, I was reminded of my undying dedication to craft."

Our injuries, I think, really do help define us, as trite as that may sound. Most importantly, they give us cool stories to tell, allowing us to present ourselves to the rest of the world in just about any badass way we choose. But what happens to our psyches when our scars are removed? Does it make us any less resilient, less tough? Or does it just give us fewer opportunities to tell cool stories?


But what about my street cred?

(Shawn Connally and Bruce Stewart are guest bloggers)


  1. in time, all the healed wounds of your time on this Earth will emerge as though photographs developing in their bath. Skin you thought unmarked will reveal memories forgotten when the pale cicatrices trace out for you again the experience that put them there. I’m looking rather like the flanks of a sperm whale these days.

  2. The scarred cheek of charactatures of Austrian and German officers is founded in fact. Otto Skorzeny, the German commando who became known as “The most dangerous man in Europe”, was quite proud of his renommierschmiss, also known as a scar of honor or a bragging scar.

    Dueling societies in Austrian and German Universities used sabres. The participants concentrated on their opponents left cheek. With the object being scarification, winning meant walking away with a nice open wound.

  3. For me, Battle Scar refers to the Max Webster song from the Universal Juveniles album; the live double band performance with Rush mumbly-mumble years ago was pretty amazing.

  4. Our skin tells our story. It is the largest organ on the human body and often the first to come into contact with the world (an exception may be teeth of course…).

  5. I have a number of angry-looking scars on my forearms from one oven or another – I love to cook (and am even damned good at it), especially to bake, and have the scars to prove it.

    I was self-conscious about it until Anthony Bourdain was doing a piece about cooks and their lifestyles — getting tattoos of whisks and chef’s knives — and showing off the burns on their forearms. I don’t remember the exact words, but it was along the line that REAL cooks have scars on their arms.

    Cool. Here I thought I was just being a klutz…seems I’ve given myself some cred.

  6. yes Dear Nail, but I always found the Prussian dueling scar a little silly because of the actual circumstances of most student duels. Before their little sip at the soupbowl of honour, they bundled up in thick leather neck collars, metal goggles over the orbits of the eyes and a thick jacket with one arm bound behind out of harms way. Just about the only outcome even if they flailed away like threshing machines would be a superficial facial cut. More hazard naked with sticks.

  7. Hee hee…I also have a little half circle notch out of my left front tooth from trying to push a needle through tough cloth! Who woulda thought that this was a common occurance? Now I look upon it with a bit more pride!

  8. My best scar was inflicted by a toaster as I attempted to hurl it into the woods in a fit of alcohol- and toast-denial-induced rage.

    I’m not sure what sort of undying dedication this shows.

  9. I was making pewter tokens for a Society for Creative Anachronism event here in Ontario. As I was pouring the molten pewter from a ladle into the soapstone mold some of the pewter spilled into a hole in the finger of the leather welder’s glove I was wearing and pooled there. I set the ladle down safely and then set the fragile soapstone mold gently and safely without breaking it. Only then did I flick my hand to get the glove off. Seeing a little bit of steam jetting off from under my fingernail was stomach-churning but holding it all under cold water for 30 minutes or so seemed to help. I had 2nd degree burns but healed without complications leaving a scar that looks like I have candle wax poured on my finger.

    One man’s Arts and Science battlescar is another person safety lesson however because I would use my story to show the importance of safety equipment that’s in good proper order whenever I would teach a class in pewtercasting. *grin*

  10. i have a scar on the left side of my nose from a gator bite while i was out hunting eggs for breakfast. wrestled that sucker to the ground and rolled through the weeds till we both feel into the bay, which was strangely infested with a pack of rabid bull sharks. they were obviously stranded from embarking on their seasonal migration and very hungry because of it. so i had to keep the sharks at bay by punching them in the nose while i dug my thumbs through the gators eyeballs. anyway, breakfast was good that morning.

  11. I lost the middle half of my right eyebrow to a german shepard in 1989 – ripped it right off, you could see a bunch of skull and everything. So, being 20 years ago, the best they could do was a skin graft from behind my right ear – this was no laceration, about a square inch patch was simply gone.

    As a result, my right eyebrow grows normal hair. if i dont trim it it gets in my eye.

    My parents asked me a few years ago, in better financial times, if i wanted to have surgery to ‘fix’ it, and if so, they’d pick up the check. The idea horrified me – I’d already lost that eyebrow once, and i wasn’t thrilled about losing what has been my eyebrow for the vast majority of my life.

    also my knobby collar bone broken from the first 30 seconds i ever rode an ATV, my knobby ankle from skateboarding, the scrape scar on my stomach from rescuing my drunk brother in the middle of the night. that’s a good one too. we were out in the woods next to a river, drunk at 3 am, with a couple of his friends. well, he fell off a 40 foot cliff into about 4 inches of water. but it was pitch black. we had no flashlights. we heard a yell and a noise, and immediately took roll to make sure everyone was there. my brother wasn’t. so we have to climb down this cliff 40 feet while drunk and panicked, in pitch blackness. we managed to find him and awaken him, thank god. scariest moment of my life – the dog eyebrow thing doesn’t even come close.

  12. I discovered at a recent job hiring that due to craft related scars I no longer have fingerprints that can be scanned electronically. They had to dust off the old inkpad while I seriously considered my new possibilities for crime.

  13. Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin’ back from the island of Tinian to Leyte… just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes. Didn’t see the first shark for about a half an hour. Tiger. 13-footer. You know how you know that when you’re in the water, Chief? You tell by looking from the dorsal to the tail. What we didn’t know, was our bomb mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn’t even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, Chief, sharks come cruisin’, so we formed ourselves into tight groups. You know, it was kinda like old squares in the battle like you see in the calendar named “The Battle of Waterloo” and the idea was: shark comes to the nearest man, that man he starts poundin’ and hollerin’ and screamin’ and sometimes the shark go away… but sometimes he wouldn’t go away. Sometimes that shark he looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. And, you know, the thing about a shark… he’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn’t seem to be living… until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then… ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin’. The ocean turns red, and despite all the poundin’ and the hollerin’, they all come in and they… rip you to pieces. You know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men. I don’t know how many sharks, maybe a thousand. I know how many men, they averaged six an hour. On Thursday morning, Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player. Boatswain’s mate. I thought he was asleep. I reached over to wake him up. Bobbed up, down in the water just like a kinda top. Upended. Well, he’d been bitten in half below the waist. Noon, the fifth day, Mr. Hooper, a Lockheed Ventura saw us. He swung in low and he saw us… he was a young pilot, a lot younger than Mr. Hooper. Anyway, he saw us and he come in low and three hours later a big fat PBY comes down and starts to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened… waitin’ for my turn. I’ll never put on a lifejacket again. So, eleven hundred men went in the water; 316 men come out and the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb.

  14. I think most dedicated crafters have an extensive array of scars from their work; ditto athletes and anyone who does fabrication or repair for a living. My person is marked with a variety of cuts and burns, including a chunk of a fingertip lost to a table saw, a shin stab from a mishandled rigging knife and a strange tattoo on my leg where a quill pen full of ink jabbed me accidentally.

  15. I know that if it weren’t for losing my left arm to that industrial laser (mounted on a poorly-controlled shark, of course) I would never have been motivated to research and develop atomic-powered super-human prosthetics for supervillians. So there’s that.

  16. Heh, what a great article to find on BoingBoing today after coming home from working on a project, and having only an hour ago sent an angle grinder into the side of my thumb. That’s going to leave a mark…

  17. @25 I hate to bag on her but, having worked with many grinder acts and even teaching it to my wife for use in a show she designed around the act, that was one of the worst examples of it I have ever seen – of course, she my well have had to tone it down/change it for the tv show.

    I picked up a lot of minor injuries doing things like lighting cigarettes by plunging my face down into the spark shower but nothing that ever scarred me. One of my friends has a permanently messed up finger tip/nail from an accident during a rehearsal – that new move got scrapped after only one rehearsal.

  18. I hate to say it about an ex-Nazi, but Otto Skorzeny was a badass. The Schmiss is absolutely radical and he was Secret Code Name: GTFO to a lot of people for a long time and lived to tell the tale. A real Vulcan Nerve Pinch kind of guy. “Denazified?” Outrageous!

  19. I have a lens-shaped scar on my left arm from a hot iron. I was pressing out seams on a shirt I was making, and I tried to reach around it to move the fabric. Sizzle….

    It’s one of my favorite shirts, by the way. Thing fought me tooth and nail, but I got it put together.

  20. “Denazification” was a legal term meaning “OK, you can come back into European countries that aren’t Spain. We don’t care about Nazis any more, the Holocaust was aaaages ago and we’ve been distracted by the Cold War.” Skorzeny remained a Nazi for the entirety of his life, and was instrumental in protecting the exiles in South America from justice. He also inspired and provided manifestos for European neo-Nazi groups until he died in 1975.

    Yes, he was a badass- but he should have hanged in ’45.

  21. The first thing I thought of when I read this was Aron Ralston, because I just finished re-reading “Between A Rock And A Hard Place.” This was the guy who was forced to amputate his own hand after a boulder fell on it while he was solo mountaineering in Moab, Utah. The guy basically had an amazing life before the accident (retired at age 26 from electrical engineering, sold everything, moved to Aspen), and post-accident is even more spiritually evolved and says he wouldn’t have changed a thing.

    I don’t have any interesting scars. A divot on my forehead from chicken pox at age 6, and a two-inch scar on my right wrist from an exploding piece of ceramic in the kitchen about 12 years ago. My husband, on the other hand, lost two fingertips to a dirt bike when he was about 8. That gets some questions and double-takes. He still likes “big boys’ toys,” but no longer attempts to check a chain in motion with his hand…

  22. I am proud of my scars. I’ve gained a few in recent years. I have a 3 inch gash in my neck from a surgical biopsy that ended up revealing that I had cancer at the ripe old age of 23. You can’t really see it unless I point it out because the surgeon cut on the natural crease in my neck. I also have a nickel-sized oval-shaped scar on my upper right chest from my port that was implanted for my chemotherapy. Its not in there anymore but the scar is quite obvious when i wear low-cut shirts. I call that my “survival badge” and I’m damn proud of it. And just so none of you worry…I will be 2 years cancer-free in March. :)

  23. I have a scar all the way down the side of my right thigh. I have a scar under my chin from reconstructive surgery. I broke my R femur and jaw after falling 30 feet to a gym floor. The only scar I’m proud of is the one I got when I was shot in the upper abdomen with a .45 Glock.

  24. being a former athlete/stunt-man, stage combatant( specialties: medieval and renaissance weapons, pyrotechnics), bridge and marine construction worker, not to mention my youthfully indiscretional hell-raising( hell, i still have the scar on my left knuckle from the first real punch i ever threw in grade #3!), i have MANY scars on my body. but the scars that are most meaningful, to me, are the ones i have on the inside. they are the ones that are still painful.

  25. Raj77: Absolutely. the “ex-” I used for his Nazi appellation was added at the last moment, seems to remove much of the irony in “denazification,” and was a mistake.

  26. Real men have scars. If you don’t have any, you haven’t done anything interesting enough in life, and are probably a very boring person.

    At the very least, you should have a couple of sports/athletics scars.

  27. I did a scar map once as an art project, with a little image representing the source of each scar, ranging from beer bottles to the ax. I’m up to about two dozen.

  28. tak, who says? i used to trace my ex’s scars with my,uh…finger whilst we snugg’d. at first she was quite uncomfortable with it, but melted with it after a lil while. scars can be great foreplay!

  29. why is there this sexist bias against scars on women?

    Quite obviously, I can only speak for my own gender. How the heck would I know what a Real Woman (TM) wants?

    Although, now that I think about it, I’d be worried that a woman with scars can probably kick my ass. So I’d stay a goodly distance away from her.

    Cue Lethal Weapon reference…

  30. @40 My wife has some beautiful scarification. In fact, most of the best scarification I see is on women and it is damn sexy.

  31. @RumorsOfMyDemise, me too!

    I did some experimentation for my employers on biometric authentication, and in the process I found that my fingertips are constantly changing and mostly unreadable anyway.

    Unfortunately, even though electronic readers can’t do anything with my fingerprints, the ink-blot from my right index finger is so extremely noticeable (it looks like a little American Beauty rose, that’s just how it healed decades ago) that it kind of nullifies any advantage for a life of crime…

  32. I’m a blacksmith and knifemaker. Oooh, yeah, I have scars. Both hands are basically covered in burn, abrasion, and cut scars, along with a couple of chemical burns. The rest of my body is a bit less “decorated,” but there’s still quite a number of scars from various accidents, learning experiences, and safety equipment failures.

  33. A new scientific study has just been published – showing that scars ( can ) make gentlemen more attractive to the ladies . . .

    Details via Really Magazine


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