People usually say hurtful things by accident but sometimes on purpose. Have a look at our guide on how to respond.
Sometimes people who look different 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.
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.
- 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 sat 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 at first – but if you have your responses ready and practise them, this can help you to feel OK about the situation when it happens.
It’s up to you. You can decide how you want to answer – or choose not to reply at all. Here are some different things you could do:
#1: Say you don’t want to discuss it
You could just say to the person you don’t want to talk right now:
- “I don’t want to talk about it.”
- “It happened ages ago and I don’t really talk about it anymore.”
#2: Give a short description
If someone asks you about your visible difference you might want to say a little about yourself.
- “It’s a scar from an operation I had ages ago.”
- “I lost my eye after an accident when I was little.”
- “The colour of my skin is not the same all over. It’s called vitiligo.”
- “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.”
People are often curious at first but this will probably be enough for most people. They probably won’t ask any more questions.
#3: Give a longer description
Sometimes, saying more feels OK. If you want to, you could give some extra information. This might be when you know someone a bit better and you’re happy to tell them a more.
It’s up to you though – you only need to say more when you feel like it.
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.”