My name is Peter, I’m a Changing Faces campaigner and I have a large port wine birthmark covering my face and body.
While I have a very positive outlook on life, and my birthmark doesn’t stop me doing what I want to do (most of the time), it can cause issues.
These are my own experiences and, while I appreciate that everyone faces different challenges, I would love it if someone can take away something positive from this piece.
Some of the things I am going to discuss here are quite personal, and I have not really talked about them before with many people. It’s a blog I have wanted to write for some time, but up until now I had been just a bit too nervous to put it out there!
Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I had a great group of friends and supportive teachers. This made school life so much easier for me, I actually enjoyed school. I know this is not the case for everyone, and I just hope that there is the right support in place for kids who are at school now.
There did get to a point at school though when my peers were beginning to date, and this never really happened for me.
I did sometimes feel left out of some of the conversations that my peers were having. If I had any words of wisdom for my younger self it would be to not get hung up, just let things happen and enjoy life!
I guess my confidence wasn’t there and, to be honest, it still isn’t when it comes to dating.
The girls haven’t exactly come running to me either! I always felt like I wasn’t the conventional ‘good looking’ person they were looking for. In all other areas of my life, I am a confident person, I sometimes forget I have a visible difference, it’s just this area of my life. I don’t have the answers either…but I hope talking about it might help other people start the conversation too?
As online dating apps become the norm, this makes life harder for me and other people with a visible difference. People are often going on first impressions and, if they don’t like how you look, be it consciously or subconsciously, you’ll get a left swipe more often than not.
I am upfront about my birthmark as I am unable to hide it in the photos I put up. I have never had any nasty comments on these apps, but generally I have not had many experiences.
My time on Tinder tells me that not a lot of girls are into birthmarks! Matches are rare. This does not build confidence and, therefore, I am not a fan of ’swipe-y’ apps. Yet, I continue to add them, delete them, and repeat the process!
Recently I started speaking to someone through a dating app and it was refreshing to meet someone who genuinely wanted to get to know me. We are just friends but it’s good to remind myself that there are people out there who see me as more than my visible difference.
Although I have found a friend on a dating app, they really can be depressing at times. If they are getting you down and frustrated, my advice is that it’s time to get rid.
I know it’s often said these things fall into place when you least expect it, and you shouldn’t try so hard at it, but it seems trickier when you don’t have the confidence to put yourself out there.
Away from the adventures of navigating my way through dating apps, there was a time when I was unemployed and hating it. Luckily, that’s now a distant memory. Interviews were coming thick and fast at the time but with so many unsuccessful outcomes.
I couldn’t help thinking if it was due to my birthmark, but this is something you can’t prove and again it can be a subconscious thing from the interviewers. Thankfully, I managed to find employment and I now work with a great group of people.
I listened to the Voices of Visible Difference podcast about dating and relationships. It was really interesting, and I could relate to a lot of it. I hope others in a similar situation are able to be positive, but it would be silly to be blindly positive. Of course, there are always going to be obstacles in your path.
It’s good to share how you’re feeling and if you’re reading this and facing these challenges too, just know that someone else understands.