A woman with alopecia stands in the kitchen, gazing at the camera

Facts for the media

Key facts about visible difference and disfigurement to help journalists and reporters ensure media coverage is accurate, sensitive and non-discriminatory.

Nearly one in five people across the UK self-identify as having a visible difference such as a mark, scar or condition. 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.

On this page, you will find some key visible difference and disfigurement facts, highlighting the impact of a condition, mark or scar on people’s lives. We hope these help journalists to ensure media coverage is accurate, sensitive and non-discriminatory.

All the information is taken from research commissioned by Changing Faces.

The impact on people’s lives

Health and wellbeing

  • One in three people say that they feel depressed, sad or anxious as a result of having a visible difference.
  • Almost a quarter say they feel self-conscious or embarrassed going out in public as a result of their visible difference.

1 in 3 say they feel depressed, sad or anxious as a result of having a visible difference

Hostile behaviour and hate crime

  • Six in 10 people have experienced hostile behaviour from strangers.
  • Over a quarter of people with a visible difference have experienced a hate crime.
  • Of those people that experienced a hate crime, about 70% did not report it.

6 in 10 have experienced hostile behaviour from strangers

Discrimination in the workplace

  • Over a third of people say they have been discriminated against in job applications because of their appearance.
  • A quarter of people say they have been stared at in the workplace because of their visible difference.
  • A third of those who have a job say that their employers have not been effective in preventing discrimination against them in the workplace.

School

  • Almost half of young people experienced bullying about their appearance at school.
  • The vast majority – nearly 90% – say their primary school did not succeed in stopping the bullying.
  • 75% did not feel supported by their primary school. 84% did not feel supported by their secondary school.

Representation

  • Two-thirds of people do not think visible differences are represented well in adverts.
  • Over half say that people with visible differences are regularly ignored by brands.
  • Over a quarter of people say they are regularly ignored by shop assistants and receive bad service because of their visible difference.

Our research

Our research underpins our key campaigns and is conducted by independent companies, including surveys with people who self-identify as having a visible difference. Download our published reports using the links below:

Our media spokespeople Adam and Tulsi

Two of our media spokespeople, Adam and Tulsi

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Media spokespeople

Media interviews are available with campaigners and ambassadors who can share their own experiences. Changing Faces staff are also available for interview.

Media guidelines

Guidance for journalists and reporters on how to talk about visible difference in the media, including contact details for our media team.