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When people ask questions or make horrible comments, it can be helpful to have some things you can do to make the situation easier for you.
On this page, we share tools you can use to help you deal with other people’s reactions.
Instead of waiting for someone to ask you a question or make a nasty comment, think about what you could say beforehand. You can plan what to say and practise it in front of a mirror or with someone you trust.
To help with this, use something to record your ideas, such as a notebook or app on your phone.
- Keep it simple.
- Use words you feel comfortable and happy with.
- Try using words that describe the way you look.
- Stick to facts – don’t use words that criticise or judge your appearance.
You will find your own words to describe your scar, mark or condition. Here are some types of words you could use:
- Different colour
- Small or big
- Different shape
Now, think of the words that work for you and list them in a notebook. Or you might like to draw a picture (or you can do both).
This is where you can use a simple, short line to explain your visible difference. Here are some examples:
- “It’s just a birthmark.”
- “It’s a scar from an operation I had ages ago.”
- “The colour of my skin is not the same all over. It's called vitiligo."
- “I lost my eye after an accident when I was little.”
- “I was born with a cleft lip and palate.
- The bones in my face didn’t grow properly before I was born.”
If you feel like it, you might want to add something like this:
- "It doesn't hurt."
- "You can't catch it."
- "I don't really talk about it much."
- "It's no big deal."
Now, it’s your turn. Think about the words you have written down already and how you can make these into a sentence. Try creating three short phrases.
Sometimes, you might feel like saying more and it can be good to think about what you might say.
Use the words and sentences you have already come up with. Write down a longer description that is about you. Think about what has happened to you and what you would like to say about your appearance or treatments you have had so that someone understands more about you.
Here is an example of how you might use a longer description:
Kas has met Lulu for the first time at a youth club. They’ve been talking for 20 minutes, chatting about a fashion channel they both follow on YouTube. Kas gets on with Lulu and it feels natural to talk about her condition.
“Of course, I don’t really need to use blusher on this side of my face anyway,” she says, pointing to the birthmark that covers the left side of her face.
Lulu looks a bit serious and asks, “Does it hurt?”
Kas says, “No, it’s fine.” She goes on to explain more about her birthmark, how she was born with it, how it got bigger. She tells Lulu she is seeing doctors now to talk about another operation, but she’s not sure if she wants to do that or not.
“Well I think you look fine,” says Lulu, “And you have the best trainers! I want them.”
Make a list of different situations or places you think you might need to prepare for – write these in your notebook. Think about what it is that you find difficult and write this down next to the situation or place. Some examples might be:
- “Going out with friends after school – I worry people will stare at me.”
- “Going to the cinema – I don’t like waiting in the queue in case people ask me questions about the way I look.”
Now think about the words and phrases from earlier and how they might help you deal with it.
When the situation comes up, try your words and phrases out and see what works. It might take a few goes, but once you feel more confident, you can move on to the next one and do the same.
By going through your list in order, you can start with situations you find less difficult and build up to ones which are harder. By the time you get to the harder ones, it will feel a bit easier as you will have practised and already started building your confidence.