At least 1.3 million children, young people and adults in the UK are estimated to have significant disfigurements, including 569,000 with facial disfigurements; one in 111 in the population.

About disfigurement

Contents:

· Foreword: The Rt Hon Dame Margaret Hodge DBE
· Executive Summary
· Methodology
· Introduction
· In School and Education
· At Work
· Out and About
· Social Media
· Relationships and family life
· Health care
· Crime, justice and civil society
· The Media
· Summary of Recommendations
· Further reading
· Acknowledgements

Changing Faces uses the word ‘disfigurement’ as it is a succinct general term, widely understood by the general public and enshrined in law in the Equality Act 2010, which gives legal protection to people with ‘severe disfigurements’.

It’s important to note that not everyone likes the word ‘disfigurement’, preferring instead words like ‘visible difference’ or ‘unusual appearance’. Where possible, we encourage the cause of the disfigurement to be explained (eg ‘Jane has a cleft lip’; ‘Abdul sustained burns in a house fire’) because this is an informative way of describing the person’s condition.

We use the word ‘disfigurement’ throughout this report to mean any condition, mark or scar that affects the appearance of a person’s face, hands or body. There are many causes of disfigurement some of which are present at birth such as birthmarks and cranio-facial conditions but most are acquired during life including scarring from accidents, skin conditions like psoriasis and acne, facial and skin cancer, and after a stroke or a Bell’s palsy. Disfigurement can affect anyone from any social or demographic group and at any time in life.

Although modern medicine and surgery are increasingly sophisticated, the reality is that they can rarely remove a disfigurement completely. And because the face is at the centre of every human being’s self-image and the social canvas on which they portray and share their personality and signal their moods and intentions, facial disfigurement can greatly affect a person’s self-worth and how others perceive and behave towards them. Disfigurements to other parts of the body can also affect self-image and how others react.

At least 1.3 million children, young people and adults in the UK are estimated to have significant disfigurements, including 569,000 with facial disfigurements; one in 111 in the population. They all have to live with a face or body that attracts intrusive attention and the stigma our culture associates with
disfigurement. They report feeling self-conscious, isolated and friendless, facing teasing, ridicule and staring in public, low expectations in school, problems getting work, and stereotyping in the media because of the way they look.

Changing Faces publishes guidance on the correct language to use when discussing disfigurement. Please visit changingfaces.org.uk/mediaguidelines
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