If you ever saw the movie “The Replacements,” you might have laughed when quarterback Shane Falco, played by Keanu Reeves, tried to rally his football team with words of encouragement. He said, “Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever.” That’s more than just a line in a movie. There is scientific evidence that chicks, in fact, dig scars.
Popular Culture Beliefs
Beyond the portrayal of sexy men with scars in the movies and on TV, there’s a popular culture in the U.S. that connects males and masculinity. With it comes the idea that masculine men are more attractive to women, and that scars on men represent masculinity. Scars are often associated with bravery and good health, according to scientists studying cultural trends.
Backed by Science
Several studies back up the perception that guys with scars are typically favored by women. According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, for example, women find facial scars on men to be attractive. They associate scars with masculinity, as well. This study also showed that there’s more emphasis associating scars to attractiveness by women looking for short-term relationships than traits associated with long-term relationships such as marriage.
In a survey where people were asked to rate the attractiveness of people with and without scars on their faces, men with lighter scars prevailed over those with darker scars and those without scars. The images were part of a series of photographs of the same people in digitally adjusted versions with and without scars. In the same study, men found no difference in attractiveness of women regardless of scar presence or prominence.
A study from 2013 on Match.com, an online dating destination, showed that women are not only attracted to men with scars, but also to the scar stories explaining how the scars came to be. Whether listening to these tales is a means of getting to know the man better or because scar stories create a greater sense of masculinity is unknown.
To learn about the history of scar perception and methods of scarification, check out our infographic on “The Evolution of Scarification.”