Four-fifths of people with a disfigurement who responded to our survey have experienced comments or unpleasantness from a stranger

Executive Summary

This report Disfigurement in the UK is an urgent call to action to protect people who have a disfigurement from discrimination and unfairness, and to better their life chances and opportunities, and remove barriers to success and fulfillment.

1. Four-fifths of people with a disfigurement who responded to our survey have experienced comments or unpleasantness from a stranger; almost half have experienced it from a shop assistant

2. Half of all school children who have a disdigurement experience discrimination because of it, and yet the ability of school leadership teams to deal with it appears limited

3. Four in ten people with a disfigurement say their appearance affected how well they did at school, and half said it impacted on their aspiration to stay in education post-16

4. Four-fifths have avoided applying for a job because they thought their appearance would hinder them at interview, or because new colleagues would make them uncomfortable

5. More than half think their condition hindered their career in some way, and 17% had left a job – or felt forced to leave – because of reactions to their appearance

6. 77% experienced an NHS employee making an assumption about them based on their appearance, and 67% had experienced an NHS employee making an assumption about their emotional health

7. Despite long-established links between disfigurement and emotional and psychological well-being, 75% of respondents reported being denied medical or surgical treatment for their condition on the basis that it was ‘cosmetic’ or unnecessary in some way

8. Almost half have felt vulnerable on public transport

9. Almost everyone has seen a meme or other social media post mocking disfigurement; none have ever had a complaint to a social media website upheld

10. Nine out of ten people who use dating websites have had uninvited, unpleasant remarks about their appearance from other users

Disfigurement in the UK speaks to a vastly unequal playing field in almost every aspect of life, leading people who have a disfigurement to have lower aspirations and expectations, and where they have resigned themselves to the inevitability of abuse and injustice. This must stop. This report is a call to action for everyone who stands for equality and social justice.

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