As the Face Equality campaign moves towards its second decade, Disfigurement in the UK shows powerfully why we must now turn the campaign into a movement.


For 25 years, Changing Faces has led efforts to improve the lives of people who have a disfigurement to their face or body. Throughout this time, the charity has collected thousands of case studies and personal histories that have powerfully demonstrated the prejudice and injustice faced by people with a disfigurement every day.

Those stories have provided the basis for campaigning, lobbying, and calls for change. This report provides significant contemporary data to add to the weight of these personal stories.

Disfigurement in the UK tells a depressing story but one that must be told. It highlights the way in which British society – which many would argue is more equal and more fair than ever before – needs to urgently address the way in which it treats people who look different, for whom there is extreme inequality and unfairness. It shows that dis gurement has been left behind in the equality stakes.

These findings are supported by an Implicit Attitudes Test1 conducted for Changing Faces by COG Research in March 2017, which found that 67% of adults in the UK attach less positive attributes and characteristics to people who have a disfigurement. Whilst this shows a drop from 90% in 2008, it suggest that improvement is slow; disfigurement prejudice is still far higher than prejudice based on ethnicity or gender.

There are three recurring themes throughout Disfigurement in the UK:

1. having a disfigurement can often lead to a lack of aspiration in education, in work, and in personal relationships, often confirmed by teachers, employers and others who have lower expectations of people

2. this lack of aspiration and opportunity can lead to a resignation that this is how things will always be, and consequently unfairness and discrimination go unchallenged

3. authorities who should stand up to prejudice are failing to do so effectively even when they are alerted to it.

Disfigurement in the UK speaks to a nation that needs to change. Not to any particular sector
or agency or company, but to the wider society where it remains at best tolerated and at worst accepted that people who look different should be treated unfairly or unequally. To correct these injustices will take commitment and action at the highest level of government, but also requires action from every one of us in British society to recognise how we are all bystanders to this inequality, and to commit to ending it.

As the Face Equality campaign moves towards its second decade, Disfigurement in the UK shows powerfully why we must now turn the campaign into a movement. An unequal society negatively affects everyone and if we do not do so or do not succeed, people who have a disfigurement are prevented from reaching their full potential and will have a reduced quality of life as a result. The time for change is now.

1.Implicit Attitudes Test by COG Research for Changing Faces, March 2017