No two people are the same. We are all unique in some way. We can describe visible differences as a scar, mark or condition on your face or body that makes you look different. This can be something you are born with (the medical term for this is “congenital”) or it could occur or develop during your life. Anyone can be affected by a visible difference, at any point in their life. 
People use a variety of words to describe themselves. They may say they “look different,” or have a “difference,” a “disfigurement” or an “altered appearance”. Many people prefer to use the name of the condition, mark, or scar – for example Treacher Collins syndrome, scarring, rosacea, or neurofibromatosis.  
“Disfigurement” is not a description preferred by many people who have a visible difference. It is used in medical or legal environments. The term disfigurement is used in the UK’s Equality Act 2010 to protect people with “severe disfigurements” from discrimination. A third of people with a visible difference or disfigurement have experienced a hate crime and that half of those with a visible difference reported that they experienced hostile behaviours, like stares and bullying.  
How people feel about their appearance varies considerably. Some people are proud of their visible difference and live fulfilling lives. Others find it emotionally challenging and that it limits what they want to do or feel they can achieve. While most people feel self-conscious at times and worry about how they look, having a visible difference can intensify these feelings. Some people may struggle with a particular area of life. These feelings also may vary from day-to-day. 
The impact a visible difference has on a person does not always match the severity or extent of the difference or how visible it is to others. For example, someone with a scar on their leg may feel it impacts their life just as much as someone with a visibly large birthmark on their face. When we are feeling less confident, it is easy to focus on all the things we feel are “wrong” about ourselves and not the positive aspects of who we are. 
To learn more about the different types of visible differences visit Changing Faces. 
Face Equality International is an alliance of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), charities and support groups which are working at national, regional, or international levels to promote the campaign for ‘face equality’.

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