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‘I Was Totally Prepared To Douse My Face In Acid:’ Ex-Skinhead Gets His Racist Tattoos Removed After Becoming A Dad
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People3 years ago

‘I Was Totally Prepared To Douse My Face In Acid:’ Ex-Skinhead Gets His Racist Tattoos Removed After Becoming A Dad

Meet Bryon Widner, a former – in his own words – borderline sociopath who was full of hate and had an insatiable lust for violence.

Image credits: AP

He became a skinhead at the age of 14, and he spent 16 years involved with racist organizations in the midwest. He earned the nickname of pit bull, and went on to co-found Vinlanders Social Club, a white power group in Indiana.

Vinlanders soon gained a reputation for excessive violence and racia ldiscrimination, becominf one of the fastest-growing neo-nazi organizations in the US.

Image credits: AP

In 2005, Widner married Julie Larsen and a year later, the couple had a son. The responsibilities of fatherhood gave Widner the desire to reform and leave the racist movement, a desire shared by his new wife.

Image credits: AP

Widner decided to leave the neo-nazi group, but it took years of death threats and harassment before he felt that he was finally becoming “human again.”

Image credits: AP

Widner’s attempts to become part of regular society were understandably made more difficult by his many face tattoos, which were both intimidating and openly racist. His wife Julie was afraid that he would do something extreme to erase his gang tattoos, so depressed and desperate he was becoming.

“I was totally prepared to douse my face in acid,” he said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Image credits: AP

Image credits: AP

Julie eventually contacted Daryle Lamont Jenkins, an anti-racist activist, who put her in contact with the Southern Poverty Law Center.

After several weeks of meetings and evaluation, SPLC representatives decided that Widner was sincere in his desire to fully reintegrate into society and agreed to help him to remove his facial tattoos. They found a plastic surgeon who was willing to perform the tattoo removal, and an anonymous donor provided $35,000 for the procedures.

Image credits: AP

Image credits: AP

The complete removal of Widner’s facial tattoos took around a year and a half, and he had to endure over a dozen individual procedures, all of them were excruciatingly painful.

Dr. Bruce Shack, chair of the Department of Plastic Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, told Widner that the removals “would feel like you have the worst sunburn in the world, your face will swell up like a prizefighter, but it will eventually heal.”

“This is not going to be any fun.”

Image credits: AP

It often took days for the burns and oozing blisters to heal, before he was ready for the next round under the laser. But Widner was determined to do the right thing by his new family, and he kept on going back for the agonizing laser tattoo removal procedures until only some scarring remained.

Image credits: AP

Widner has since become the subject of a documentary that chronicles his story of redemption, called Erasing Hate. As well as this, a feature film called Skin was recently released and is a dramatized version of his story, starring Billy Elliot actor Jamie Bell as the reformed neo-nazi.

Image credits: AP

Having thrown out everything to do with his racist past, Widner has now covered up his remaining racist body tattoos and hopes that his story can inspire others. In a time of increasing hatred and division, if just one angry young teenager on the verge of becoming a skinhead changes his mind after seeing his suffering, that is a victory for Widner.

Speaking to Bored Panda, he offered the following words of advice:

“You do not owe anyone anything, please take a step back, and realize this world will always fight back. Before throwing your life away, quit digging your own grave, and know that hate has consequences.”

It’s never too late to choose love over hate and if Bryon Widner can do it, anyone can!

Here’s what people had to say about Widner’s transformation

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Foxxy
Community Member
3 years ago (edited)

If I remember rightly, I saw him on a doco or news source and he pretty much said the pain of having his tattoos removed he deserves because of the pain he has caused others. Some say that people can’t change but people change everyday, so it can be done. I wish him and his family the best and he continues down the better path.

Jace
Community Member
3 years ago

This comment is hidden. Click here to view.

People can and do change... but it is VERY rare for the change to be anything other than a calcification of their existing ideologies and beliefs. This man and his wife, and a few others, are rare indeed.

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Daria Z
Community Member
3 years ago

His wife must have seen something good in him from the start. I'm sure his family's support was what motivated him to change, both internally and externally. Good story and happy ending :D

Foxxy
Community Member
3 years ago

She met him at a white supremist rally. But they now have both changed.

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Pseudo Puppy
Community Member
3 years ago

Whatever the reason may be, it's wonderful to see someone learning a positive lesson, and making a positive change. It will *never* undo past mistakes... but it *can* be a wonderful inspiration for others who are at a fork in the road or whether to chose hate or acceptance. I wish them all the best, and hope that those negatively affected by his past, can take some modicum of solace in the knowledge that he's learned his lesson & is trying to do better. May we all try to do better.

Eric Lambrecht
Community Member
2 years ago

It takes a strong person to say they're sorry and an even stronger person to forgive. No, he cannot change his past mistakes. But he can lock away that past, and sink it to the lowest depths, and start over

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Foxxy
Community Member
3 years ago (edited)

If I remember rightly, I saw him on a doco or news source and he pretty much said the pain of having his tattoos removed he deserves because of the pain he has caused others. Some say that people can’t change but people change everyday, so it can be done. I wish him and his family the best and he continues down the better path.

Jace
Community Member
3 years ago

This comment is hidden. Click here to view.

People can and do change... but it is VERY rare for the change to be anything other than a calcification of their existing ideologies and beliefs. This man and his wife, and a few others, are rare indeed.

Load More Replies...
Daria Z
Community Member
3 years ago

His wife must have seen something good in him from the start. I'm sure his family's support was what motivated him to change, both internally and externally. Good story and happy ending :D

Foxxy
Community Member
3 years ago

She met him at a white supremist rally. But they now have both changed.

Load More Replies...
Pseudo Puppy
Community Member
3 years ago

Whatever the reason may be, it's wonderful to see someone learning a positive lesson, and making a positive change. It will *never* undo past mistakes... but it *can* be a wonderful inspiration for others who are at a fork in the road or whether to chose hate or acceptance. I wish them all the best, and hope that those negatively affected by his past, can take some modicum of solace in the knowledge that he's learned his lesson & is trying to do better. May we all try to do better.

Eric Lambrecht
Community Member
2 years ago

It takes a strong person to say they're sorry and an even stronger person to forgive. No, he cannot change his past mistakes. But he can lock away that past, and sink it to the lowest depths, and start over

Load More Replies...
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