Self-Harm to Self-Love

Suz wrote me with some pretty pictures of a series of stripes that Blair branded around her already very scarred left arm. I’ve seen other self-harm reclamation pieces that Blair has done, where he’s done scarification over top of scars that the wearer has mixed feelings about, so I asked Suz a little more about it and she was kind enough to write back,

I had been self harming for years and it wasn’t going to be possible to tattoo over. I had originally thought of skin peels as I have some done by Sammpa that turned out nicely. However, when i got chatting to Blair we decided to go for Hyfrecator branding as I was only visiting Canada, and the chance of infection would’ve been too high with a skin peel.

It was complete fluke that I met Blair too — I got directed to New Tribe when I was over in Canada two years ago and Blair happened to be working that day. He saw my arm and we got chatting about me getting some work done, and, next thing I know it’s a year later and we have a design pretty much planned and I’m flying back over to see him! It was an experience I’ll never forget. I’ve got a substantial amount of mods but I’ve never had one that has completely changed my outlook on my body and how people perceive me.

There are more pictures after the break including some very sore looking fresh ones. The thing I really love about this type of work is that it takes something with negative connotations and transforms it into something beautiful, but without covering it up or being “dishonest” about life’s history (not that there’s anything wrong with the cover-up route either).




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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

49 thoughts on “Self-Harm to Self-Love

  1. Are those burn scars on her arms? I don’t mean the brands. I’m glad she was able to stop but I am curious about what she did that cause scarring like that.

  2. I think that is lovely- and there is a great sense of empowerment in owning the process that creates the entire look.
    the shot with her peeping out over her arm is cute as can be!

  3. congratulations to her on reclaiming her body! It’s a long hard struggle to come back from harming yourself, but she seems like a very strong person, and somebody that you could call a true friend.

  4. those are some serious self-harm scars. I like the bands (not when they are like yellow and fresh long haha ew). I have some self harm scars, no where near as intense as this chicks, but I thought it would be cool to tattoo over some of them to add a bit of a textured appearance to the tattoo.

  5. oh wow…. this is beautiful, I have hundreds of Self Inflicted scars on my arms, and I have no idea how to hide them, this is not somthing i would do to myself because i do not think i would look good with it but i wish i knew what i could do with mine

  6. Beautiful girl, beautiful eyes. I like the after-effect but those fresh looking burns make me cringe.

  7. ouch!!! those fresh ones look so raw. I really like the thin bands in the healed pictures they look great. pretty eyes as well

  8. I absolutely love her arm, being a self harmer as well I know how hard it can be to hide bad memories left on your body, and being able to turn them into something that’s beautiful is amazing. I actually thought about something like this to cover up stretch marks…

  9. Wow. They’re amazing, I love them, what a way to hide it. I’m really luck with my scarring, although something like this lookings great for burns and ice/salt wounds.


  10. Having been hyfrecator branded myself I must say those fresh pictures scare the hell out of me. Interestings results though. Thats one way to skin a cat. (Meaning thats one solution to a issue many here seem to have. Myself included.)

  11. I’m glad she feels much better now, that’s awesome and her arm definitely looks better with this! Awesome.

    On a side not, I have tons of scars on my arms as well not really self harm, more of an old blood play habit, but many were tattooed over and are now barely noticable. I have a feeling my other arm will be more obvious.

  12. yeah i agree, the brands are defiantly a way to deal with the scars. I too used to wonder what to do about my self-harm scars. I don’t think branding will be in the cards, I plan on tattooing over them instead, but I love the idea of making something beautiful that comes from a much darker place.
    I hope the brands help her to walk around sleeveless with a feeling of empowerment, instead of worry or shame (like many of us do)

  13. So for the people who commented above who have experience…how do you define the difference between “blood play” and “self-harm”? I’m not asking this in a sarcastic/rhetorical way or anything. These are areas that I have no experience with and I genuinely want to know.

  14. it’s fantastic that she was able to take such a dark period in to her life & turn it in to something good. she should be extremely proud of herself & her new mod. :]

  15. That is a really nice way to turn something that had an outcome of destruction into something so similar but with the outcome of beauty.
    Good going as well. :]

  16. As a response to #19 You define the difference between ‘blood-play’ and ‘self-harm’ beacuse of the reasons behind it in the fiorst place. Genrally ‘blood-play’ is something done with a loved one and is therefore done mainly for positive reasons whilst ‘self-harm’, on the other hand, is done mainly to get paid out or to show feelings but genrally for negative reasons. There is a fine line between both of them which many people arguee does not exist but, however, if any one has been through anything liek that or knows of anyone who has then the difference can be as obvious as a brick in the face. Hope this helped..

  17. 23- Bloodplay isn’t necessarily a sexual or “with a friend” act. I would say self-harm is done as an outlet or a coping method, while bloodplay is just that… play. I’d like to include ritualistic but not necessarily self-harm self-injury in there…

    In any case, the greenish-yellow of fresh burns is something I’ve never seen and it makes me cringe all over the fucking place.

    But as a self-injurer from way back, I appreciate the hell out of this.. it’s quite pretty.

  18. Xenobiologista, I think its-raining-blood summed it up for you at least from my point of view, I never actually looked into blood play on BME for example. IT’s just something that has been a part of me.

    I also agree with Kelli though, it can be just play though and it can be ritualisic as well.

    For me, it was very empowering I can’t explain it I can feel it just talking about it now, it was usually just something I did alone, with like minded freinds or sexual partner. The one day, when I cut myself and it felt different, my motivation, tate of mind and everything that constituted blood play for me was not there, it was simply “self harm”. My point is that there is a big differnce, and most who have been in those situations people can tell that difference.

  19. This looks beautiful; I’m really happy to see her reclaiming her body because I know how hard it can be to come to terms with your scars :)And Xenabiologista: for me, the difference is to do with motivation. “Self-harm” for me was always about anger and pain, and letting things out through my skin, and not in a positive way. It can be seen as a coping mechanism, but in my life it was definitely something self-destructive. In my opinion blood play and ritual cutting are very different, because they’re about enjoying your body, not hating yourself.

  20. It’s fascinating how much swelling can distort a limb.. those fresh burn pictures are pretty impressive. Maybe I’ve spent too much time inspecting fresh wounds in the past, but her burns don’t look all that different from either of my brands or accidental burns that I’ve acquired in the kitchen. Well, the lines are obviously much more aesthetically pleasing than my accidental injuries, but the color and scabbing look similar.

  21. Possessed, you’re right, see scars from my blood play are actually have good memoies relating to them so when one of my favorites were tattooed over, I actually felt like part of me was taken away. Luckily though, I can still tell where it is even though it’s not distracting at all.

  22. As some of the original scars are quite deep, will they have an effect on the final look of the brands once they have healed? i mean, give it an unusual texture or colouration? I’m really pleased that she is finding a way of feeling comfortable in her body, but i do think it is a shame that people feel uncomfortable / embarrassed about SH scars and the like in the first place. Everybody has different ways of dealing with shit, and if SH is a method that works for somebody, why should other people (often unspoken) disaproval have such an impact? unfortunatley, this is the case. The brands do look amazing, and i hope she feels great about all the work on her arm, regardless of motive

  23. I’m an ex-cutter, and I completely agree:

    The thing I really love about this type of work is that it takes something with negative connotations and transforms it into something beautiful, but without covering it up or being “dishonest” about life’s history (not that there’s anything wrong with the cover-up route either).

  24. i keep trying to come up with something more interesting to say about it, but all i can really say is that this is beautiful.

  25. Sscruffy Herbert:

    I think some people are ashamed because it is actually perosnal and many people out there think that it is merely attention seeking, and a lot of them don’t hesitate to brin it up either which get’s very frustratinga and embarrasing for someone who already has enought to deal with.

    I personally think that as you said thee are plenty of ways to deal with things and many are a lot worse than SH, think about all the people that harm others every day just because they’re annoyed. I guess random people just find it distrubing.

  26. Thanks to everyone who commented on my brands, i love them so much and it makes me happy looking at my arm again.
    I used to put up with so much nonsence from the general public about my scars, generally i would get disgusted looks from mothers with children or get strangers asking me why i would do such a stupid thing. The comments about attention seeking used to really upset me the most, there were times that wearing long sleaves and jumpers 24/7 weren’t an option and people would assume that i was showing off my scars for a sympathetic pat on the shoulder.
    Now i wear my scars with pride because they no longer represent the hard times, but a choice to take my body back and make it beautiful.

  27. I think it’s interesting that she chose to put bands over her scaring, as i did the same thing. I found myself cutting again, and needed a strong reminder to stop. Mine are not branded though, they are scalpled and removed.

  28. I have a question, please take it as curiosity rather than cynicism: do those of you who are intense self-harmers who then get mods like these find that they help you to stop? Or are they simply a way of reclaiming your body rather than also a tool to help you stop?

  29. #43 I’ll take that one. I cut my self with scalpels and razors for about 13 years. Very badly. The scars are among the worst I have seen even on BME. Then I encountered some life chages that made me want to be less self-destructive. I quit for 8 years. This last year I met a scarification artist. With some trepidition I set out on an extensive scarification process. I wondered though, would it start me up again? It did not. It finally put the question to rest. I have had some major crisis pop up during the last year and the idea of cutting myself while upset is now an abomination. Or maybe just an empty gesture. I know that part is over.

  30. Suzanne, that’s wonderful to hear. I am glad you’ve stopped a behavior that was harmful for you and that you wanted to stop. :)

  31. In response to T (#4), I can’t tell you how true that is.

    Suz is one of the strongest and most down-to-earth people I have ever met and has been a solid friend to me over the last five years despite what was going on in her own life.

    I’m glad to see so many people loving what she has done, they really are beautiful things.

    As for TrinityVA (#43), I have found over the last year or so that the tattooing process in particular has not only helped me to get past issues of self-injury but has made a massive difference to my body confidence too. What’s more, I know that I am far less likely to indulge in self-destructive behaviour if it meant damaging something in which I have invested my time and creativity. Hope that makes sense…! :)

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  33. Pingback: Cultural/Evolutionary Basis of Cutting: In Defense of Self-Mutilation, part three « f15h 0u7 0f H2O

  34. Why hide your scars, when they are/where a way to deal with pain, and also, a part of yourself?

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