Welcome to the Face
Equality on Film campaign

Changing the way you view disfigurement.

Did you think that Leo was sinister? The villain? A baddy? You wouldn’t be alone if you did.

In fact years of conditioning by the films you watch will have influenced the way you view people with a disfigurement.

It’s so common-place that perhaps you don’t always even notice it happening: a new character comes onto to the screen; they have a prominent scar down one side of their face – they don't have to do or say anything and yet you automatically know you’ve been introduced to the villain.

A recent YouGov survey also found that bad teeth, scars, burns and other conditions affecting the face are viewed as the most common indicators of an evil or villainous character in a film.

What concerns us is that this sort of visual shorthand is used without any thought as to how it might affect the lives of real people: people who are living with scars, burns, marks or conditions that affect their appearance. As part of the audience you know how to respond, with fear, horror or revulsion. The problem is that how people react in the cinema spills over into real life.

Many of the people that we've met over the past 20 years have told us how they have been called Freddie Kreuger, Elephant Man, Two Face, Scarface or Cyclops.  They have had to put up with other people laughing at them, running away or reacting in disbelief that they live a 'normal' life.

These long-held and innacurate beliefs are completely at odds with the reality for most people with disfigurements - who are lawyers, teachers, comedians, DIY lovers, parents, feisty teenagers, doting grandparents.  They worry about their children, love cooking programmes, have affairs, worry about the rent, dye their hair, hate commuting - just as other characters do who are portrayed on the big screen.

We think it’s time that the film industry took a more balanced approach. Why can’t someone with a disfigurement play the dad collecting children from school, the learner driver, the lover or even the president?

Add your comments below and sign our petition for fairer and more balanced portrayals of the lives and morals of characters with disfigurements.  Alternatively you can join the discussion at www.facebook.com/changingfacesuk.

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Your Comments

If you are struggling to cope and you would like to speak to someone in confidence, please call 0845 4500 275 or email info@changingfaces.org.uk. Please note this comments section is public and we are not able to contact anyone after they have left a message on this board.

raniel ruba, 21, PHILIPPINES

in my country there is no help for us with severe scars. I am hoping that even I am not a citizen of your country,you can also help me .Thank you beacuse I want to lgive my family the wellness of life

Evelyne, 51, Paris (France)

« What did you think was going to happen ? » When I first saw the video, it didn’t occur to me that Leo could be a villain ; I firstly thought that he was a men with much delicacy, because he was listening opera on the radio. Then he seemed to sigh and lean back against the seat, as if he was worried about sth ; he looked at the woman, and I thought he was in love with her, but feared to tell her. A net surfer suggested he looks like a husband coming home. I rather think he's a guest, because he leaves the car in the street, has no key of the apartment, and brings a bottle of wine like sb invited. When the woman puts on the radio, it seems to me that she listens the same opera as in the car radio. So, both are on the same wavelength (literally and figuratively !) At last he dares to go to the date, with a shy smile : « hello, it ‘s me, just as I am. » But the solicitude of the woman, and her warm welcome break down barriers between them. As for me, I hope that the story will have a happy end, and that they will get married ! I find Leo very attractive !

Unknown, 12, Somewhere

Woah I thought she was not expecting himk to be in her house wrong person

Unknown?, 12, Location

Wow I was not expecting that to happen its good that people don't judge you for the way you look.


Comment It isn't necessarily the disfigurement that puts the viewer in a suspicous mind more the weather, the music and the sitting outside the house that creates the feelings of what will happen next. We all judge by first reactions it isn't until we have time to get to know the individual that we understand the person for who they are and not what they look like. this is an instinctive survival reaction which the media monopolises and is not a true reflection of most people geniune reactions. It is more a fear of how an individual would cope if a disfigurement happened to them and the only true way to know is to be disfigured and decide if other peoples reactions are worth not living your own life how you want.

Lailani, 19, Birmingham

Although i fully agree with the article, the ad sort of sucks, because even if i a guy without any deformity was in leo place i still would have thought something bad would happen. But leo deformity does seem to make you fear worse. And i do feel bad that most of us think that way, i just wish there was a way to make us feel the opposite everytime we see someone with a deformity, feelings like compassion, empathy, and kindness as these people have been through more than most of us can imagine. ITS ALL THE MEDIAS FAULT! I LOVE DEFORMED PEOPLE YOU MAKE US REALISED HOW STRONG WE CAN BE! YOU ARE ROLE MODELS!

Susan, 23, Cornwall

I couldnt agree more with this article. The rain, the setting and suspence built up in that ad with Leo really lures you into a false understanding of Leo as the villian, but thats only because of the conditions he has been filmed in and because of how we as idividuals have been conditioned from the media and film industry to respond to this particular stimulus. Just look at the Phatom of the Opera. Comment

Maria, 30, London

I don't think that Leo was sinister. Actually I didn't expect it was happening something bad. I though he was in love with the woman and uncertain if knock at her door.

Jaime, 20, US

To be completely fair the ad kind of sets you up to think something bad is going to happen. I wonder if the same commercial with a guy who wasn't disfigured would have the same affect. I think it might. Comment

Vika , 20, Location

I think that comment about the film industry is absoulutely right, looks can be decieving and real beauty in my opinion comes from within! :-)

Your Views

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