“Nancy, You Look Hot”: Seeing Beyond Self Harm

Talk of self harm

Talk of self harm

*Spoilers for those who have not seen Sin City or Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.

On Friday my partner and I went to see Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. I enjoyed the movie and actually wasn’t bothered by the 3D but that is not why I want to talk about it.

There is a character named Nancy (played by Jessica Alba) who in the first Sin City lost the only man she’s ever loved, John Hartigan (Bruce Willis), to suicide. Nancy, for majority of A Dame to Kill For is on a fast downward spiral which manifests in deep depression, alcohol abuse and visions on Hartigan. Nancy has been training to kill the man she believes is responsible for Hartigan feeling he needed to end his life, Senator Roark. Nancy has been unable to pull the trigger on the Senator until one night when she just can’t take it anymore. The scene shows Nancy backstage at the bar she dances at. Nancy smashes her head on the mirror, causing the mirror to break and her head to bleed. Nancy then takes a piece of the broken glass and cuts up her face. Next, Nancy is approached by Marv (Micky Rourke), an ex-con, who agrees to help Nancy kill the senator. As they leave the bar, on their way to the Senator’s home, Marv tells Nancy, with her black leather and stitched up face, “You look hot.” Nancy smiles.




Why do I find this important to mention? Because despite Nancy’s wounds and her pain Marv still thinks she is attractive. Many of us who self harm hide our bodies and ourselves from others because of the shame we feel about our wounds and scars. I know I have felt ugly for a long time because my body bears the marks of old and new pain. I have sometimes been told by others that I am less attractive because of my self harm scars. This does not help.

Telling a person who self harms that they are attractive does not mean that you are encouraging them to self harm. You are in fact building their self worth and demonstrating to them that you care and value them. When I have had partner’s tell me my scars are beautiful or encouraged my not to hide my body a little bit of the shame I have felt for years melts away. The way Marv was seeing Nancy for the beautiful young woman she is, it has been very healing to be with individuals who have not cringed at my scars or wounds. They know they are on me but they are not who I am.



9 thoughts on ““Nancy, You Look Hot”: Seeing Beyond Self Harm

  1. because my scars are mostly hidden, i have not had these situations. however, i have seen many women and some men with scars that look to be self inflicted. my heart always melts with compassion, like we are somehow kindred spirits. i always want to just go up and hug them. sending you a cyber hug sweetest lady. D

  2. I had a conversation with someone this weekend about loving me in spite of my flaws. I was trying to explain that there are some things I can’t change any more than I can change those nose on my face. Unfortunately, this person wants to be accepted, but can not accept others. Kind of a fatal flaw…but I digress…

    Anyways, the symbolism in the movie is beautiful, isn’t it? 🙂

  3. I kinda did something like that at my old job (busted a glass in reach though, not the mirror.) The yuppie Wall St. clientele and managers and a few other dancers all flipped their shit and said if I cut on stage or showed up with visible cuts I’d be canned from their sad little clip joint boo hoo. In hindsight it was one of my finer moments in that line of work…

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