Acceptance, not awareness, that’s a difference between this and other month long campaigns.
I don’t know when or why September was chosen to represent Facial Difference, but since it’s my birthday month, it works.
Campaigns for cancers and loads of other illness will label their campaigns as “awareness”. They raise money to hopefully forever get rid of whatever it is they are raising money for. There are some exceptions, but not many. One of the giant exceptions is for those like me, with a facial difference. No amount of money is going to fix my face. Organizations like AboutFace, CCAKids, Changing Faces and Faces all raise money to help kids, teens and adults deal with having a facial difference. Because as far as we think we’ve come, it’s not far enough.
Each day kids who for no fault of their own are bullied, shunned, and physically attacked simply because of how they look. Every day teenagers flip through beauty magazines and see perfect faces staring back at them. And every day adults like me attempt to use online dating sites only to be told “no one wants to be with someone who looks like that.” The money raised by these vital organizations goes to programs to advocate and help those with facial differences navigate the world around them. We spend a good chunk of our lives teaching others how not to assholes. This still is insane to me, because we shouldn’t be a teachable moment. We shouldn’t have to answer constantly “what’s wrong with your face?” We shouldn’t worry about how much going out is going to cause us anxiety. And parents of newborns with facial differences shouldn’t have to worry the pic they post will be reported as “violating community standards”, or have to see comment saying that their child should never have been born, ALL because of how they look. This is INSANE to me, I can’t wrap my mind around it.
I know what it’s like NOT have a facial difference. I know because it’s all I see. In my everyday life, media, books, everywhere I’m bombarded with what it’s like to navigate the world without the added complexity of looking different.
When I get asked if given the choice not to have a facial difference the answer depends on the day. What doesn’t change is that I wouldn’t change WHO I’ve become because of my facial difference. But most days I’d love to know what it’s like to go out without a facial difference.