I’ll be honest and say it took me a long time to deal with people staring at my face – too long.
Of course I’m not alone. Many others with a facial difference take many years to make that adjustment. But some never come to terms with their face and how people objectify them.
When I curated the @ireland account on Twitter a few months back I dealt with the issue of staring several times, because it being a seven-day spell people had missed out on the earlier discussions.
What struck me was that many many people found the subject riveting. Either they didn’t know the pain staring causes, or they never considered the social isolation it can lead to. I get that.
Others asked what they should do if they met someone whose face is, well, different. I hope the following advice will be of some help.
How you should behave
1. If you meet us for the first time please don’t ask us what happened our faces. We need to get to know you first
2. Make eye contact and make sure you are not looking at our disfigurement no matter how tempted you might be
3. Don’t call us names or abuse us. Obvious, but it happens all the time
4. Treat us with the respect and consideration you would expect to receive yourself
5. Smile and say hello. It helps us relax and feel less self-conscious.
Easing the pain
This isn’t a comprehensive list by any means, but it’s a good start. Anything that makes life easier for the facially disfigured who are challenged enough trying to lead a ‘normal’ life, and those who meet them for the first time, can only be positive.