Sometimes people with a scar, mark or condition that affects their appearance ( a visible difference) get asked questions about how they look. You may not mind this too much – but sometimes it might get on your nerves or even upset you. There may be times when you don’t feel like answering at all.
This page is here to help you respond to questions about the way you look. We also have pages explaining how to deal with staring as a young person and offer specific tools to help you cope with other people’s reactions.
It can be helpful to think about what you want to say when you’re on your own or with friends or family. This can help you to feel more confident and ready when you are asked a question. Try thinking about these questions:
- How much do you want to say about your visible difference? You can choose to tell people as much as you want to. You might not want to tell them very much at all, and that’s fine. See our information below on the different ways you could respond.
- Who are you talking to? You might decide you want to give more information to close friends than to people you have just met.
- How are you feeling? This might be different on different days. If you feel upset or just don’t feel like talking about your visible difference, you can decide not to answer questions or give very short answers.
- What is the situation? You might tell someone more if you are sitting quietly talking to one friend. But, if someone asks a question on the bus, you might not want to talk about it at that moment.
It might seem a bit funny to practice responses at first – but if you have them ready and are prepared, this can help you to feel OK about the situation when it happens.
You can decide what to say when someone asks about your appearance – or choose not to reply at all. It’s up to you. Here are some different things you could do:
- Give them a description. A short explanation will probably be enough for most people, but sometimes you may want to give some extra information. This might be when you know someone a bit better and are happy to tell them more. It’s up to you though, you only need to say more when you feel like it. See our guide on practising your responses, which gives examples of short and long descriptions.
- Talk about something else. Maybe you don’t feel like talking about the way you look, but you get the feeling the other person is uncomfortable. One way around this can be to briefly mention your appearance and then change the subject. This may help reassure the person you’re with while putting you in charge of the situation. This uses our Explain, Reassure and Distract/Divert (ERD) tool.
- Say you don’t want to discuss it. You could say, “I don’t want to talk about it.” or “It happened ages ago and I don’t really talk about it anymore.”