Preparing responses tool

For people who look different, it is common for others to ask why they look different. Rather than waiting until you’re asked or being taken by surprise, it might help to think about what you could say beforehand. You can plan what to say and practice it in front of a mirror or with someone you trust.

Top tips are:

  • Keep it simple
  • Use words you feel comfortable and happy with
  • Try using words that describe your visible difference
  • Stick to facts – don’t use words that criticise or judge it.

Find the words to use

You will find your own words to describe your condition, mark or scar. Here are some types of words you could use:

  • Different colour
  • Noticeable
  • Scarring
  • Unique
  • Small or big
  • Different shape
  • Bumpy
  • Raised
  • Patchy
  • Itchy
  • Numb

Now, think of the words that work for you and write them in a list in a notebook. Or, you might like to draw a picture (or you can do both!)

Short descriptions

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.”

“I’ve got vitiligo – it’s like freckles only backwards.”

“I lost my eye after an accident when I was little”

“The bones in my face didn’t grow properly before I was born.”

Now, it’s your turn – try and give a short explanation about your appearance. Think about the words you have written down already and how you can make these into a sentence. Try writing three short phrases in your notebook.

Longer description

Sometimes, you might feel like saying more and it can be good to think about what you might say. Using the words and sentences you have already, in your notepad, 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 visible difference or treatments you have had, so that someone understands more about you.

Reassure yourself

It can be good to have some phrases or sayings that you can use to make yourself feel better and calmer if people upset you. We call this ‘positive self-talk’, but it is very simple really. Just think of some nice things to say to yourself or something that can help you to feel less affected. Some examples are:

‘I am a great person who is loved by a lot of people’

‘This person is being unkind – but that is about them, not me’

‘They are staring because they haven’t seen someone who looks like me before – it is curiosity’

‘This person is not worth my time or attention’

You could try this out more by looking at the Motto tool

Different situations or places

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 my appearance

Now, take a look at them – and put them in order of difficulty – with the most difficult one last. You might want to talk to an adult to help you with this.

Once you have your list – think about the first situation or place – and what you might use from your words and phrases to help you deal with it.

Then 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 in that situation, you can move on to the next one and do the same.

This way you can start with situations or places you find less difficult and build up to ones which are more difficult – by the time you get to these, it will feel a bit easier as you will have practiced and already started building your confidence.

It might all seem a bit odd at first – but having responses ready can really help. The more you practice them, the more ready and more okay you will feel when things happen. Take a look at the Explain reassure divert tool and Handling questions to help you to think about this a bit more.

Explain reassure divert tool


Handling questions


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.

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