Handling questions

Most people with a visible difference have been asked questions about their appearance. This can be okay some of the time, but at other times, it might feel annoying, upsetting or you may not feel like answering.

It can be good to think about what you would like to say beforehand. This can help you to feel more confident and ready when you are asked a question. Try thinking about these:

  • How much (or how little) do you want to say about your visible difference? You can choose to tell people as much as you feel okay with
  • 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 is up to you. You can decide how you want to answer – or not. Here are some different things you could do:

Say you do not want to discuss it

You could just say to the person you don’t want to talk right now:

“I’d rather not talk about it.  I’m sure you can understand.”

“It happened ages ago and I don’t talk about it much now.”

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. I’ve got 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 curious at first, but this will be enough information for most people and they will probably won’t ask anymore questions.

Give a longer description

Sometimes, saying more seems ok and you might want to give more information. This might be when you are getting to know someone better or when you feel comfortable with someone who is interested in knowing more.

It is 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 twenty minutes, having a laugh about a fashion and make-up show on TV. Kas likes the girl… and it feels natural to say more about herself.

“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”

It might seem a bit funny at first – but if you have your responses ready and practice them, this can help you to feel okay about the situation when it happens. Take a look at the Explain reassure divert tool and Preparing responses tool to help you to think about this a bit more.

Explain reassure divert tool


Preparing responses tool


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