Looking and feeling different

What does ‘looking different’ mean?

There are lots of different things that can affect how you look, for example:

  • You were born with something that changes the shape, size, feel or look of your face or body, or how it works
  • You have a birthmark or skin that is not all the same colour all over, or it feels and looks different to other parts of your face or body
  • You have scars or burns or changes to your face or body from an accident
  • You look different after being ill or having an operation

At Changing Faces, we often use the term ‘visible difference’, but people use various words to describe their appearance, like ‘unusual’, ‘different’, or ‘disfigurement’, or often people use the name of the condition. You need to choose the words that are right for you.

Feeling different to other people

Looking different is not always easy and might mean you feel different to other people.

Although you might feel like you look different to your friends and family, remember everyone is different. No two people are exactly the same. It’s one of the fantastic things about human beings. We all have different personalities. We all look different. We all like different things. We are all unique!

Although you and your friends and family are not all alike, you will have some things the same – and, more importantly, you’ll like and enjoy a lot of the same things.

Sometimes, worrying about you look or how other people might act can affect how you feel about yourself. It can mean you feel less confident and then act in an embarrassed, shy or worried way when you meet people. You might even avoid seeing new people as you are worried they will stare or say mean things to you.

How you feel about yourself? Are you SCARED?

Being SCARED can explain how you feel… and how you then might act.






act shy

conspicuous (standing out)


cover yourself up

angry or anxious


be angry or anxious

rejected – like people don’t want to know you


retreat – pull away or hide from people



be evasive – ignore people



act defensive – try to protect yourself


Meet Lorna Lorna is fun, clever and kind. At times, she’s quiet, but she is outgoing with people she knows. She has long, dark hair and brown eyes. She is happy wearing jeans and t-shirts, but does wear a dress sometimes – on special occasions. She likes music, dancing, roller skating and she plays football. She has three best friends – they spend all their time together!

Lorna also has a scar on her face from a dog bite. But what counts for Lorna and her friends is that she is herself. There is only one Lorna… and she’s a fun person to be with!

Like Lorna, how you look is only a part of you! And like everyone else, you are unique – yes, there is only one ‘you’ – and you’re great!

No-one is perfect

Everyone has little ‘flaws’ or things they don’t like about themselves – these might be spots or hairs or freckles or one leg shorter than the other or one eye bigger or a very small little toe! We all feel self-conscious at times and worry about how we look.

You might find that looking different isn’t easy sometimes and you might have good days or bad days.

What if I am really struggling?

Sometimes people can find it really hard to cope. If you are:

  • Very unhappy or you don’t want to go anywhere or see anyone
  • Not sleeping properly or having nightmares a lot
  • Feeling like there is something wrong with you or worrying a lot about how you look

Then you might need to get some help with these things. Don’t struggle on alone – tell your parents, carers or your teacher. And ask them to get in touch with Changing Faces to help you to cope better.

If you would like to learn more about confidence, have a look at About confidence. You might also like to look at some of our Tools for building confidence in this section such as the Seeing my good points tool.

About confidence


Seeing my good points tool


More people are using Changing Faces services than ever before. We want to be here for everyone affected by with a mark, scar or condition that makes them look different.

We’ve made all our services, factsheets and information free for everyone. It takes time and money to do this, but we think it is really important.

That’s why I hope you’ll understand why we need to ask for your help. If you’ve found our website or services helpful, and your circumstances allow, then please consider donating. Every penny counts and you can give at www.changingfaces.org.uk/donate Thank you.