The Importance of Being Seen and Heard When You Look Different

I feel very lucky. From a very young age, my parents took me out into the world. We traveled, going to national parks, theme parks, restaurants… all kinds of public places. This gave me a familiarity with what it’s like to have a facial difference in public and instilled a sense of confidence. I learned I could go anywhere and do anything without worrying about the reactions of others.

I’m not sure how this translated into a gift for public speaking, but I’m sure glad it’s a fear I do not have.

People with differences need to have a voice. We need to stand up for ourselves, and not allow others to speak for us. Elementary school students, middle school students, high school students, and adults will benefit from our stories surrounding the importance of embracing differences, resilience, and developing our own identity without worrying what others think.

This past November, I was honored to be given the opportunity to exercise my voice by presenting a TEDx talk for the Sno-Isle Library TEDx event. My 15 minute talk, “Beauty Is an Inside Job” explores the true meaning of “being attractive.”

Those of us with “differences” need to be seen. The more we do so, the more commonplace our differences will be and the less adverse reactions we will get. Like it or not, we are the educators. No one can put down the stereotypes and dispel the assumptions better than we can.

Regardless of what you look like or what challenges you face, no one deserves the power to control the choices you make about how you live your life. Don’t give people that power. It’s your life. Own it. Take control of it. Be seen. Be heard.

And by all means, have fun!

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Facial Paralysis

With the penguins at Boulder Beach.

To Anyone Afraid of Traveling With a Facial Difference

In my experience, traveling with a facial difference isn’t much different from traveling without one. I enjoy traveling. In fact, my husband Ian and I recently returned from an epic trip to South Africa. Good thing I am not afraid to show this face to the world. Petting an elephant. However, I understand that some [...]
dawn and her horse

Please Don't Describe My Face as 'Disfigured' or 'Deformed'

Would you rather be described as having “a disfigurement” or “a difference”? A couple of years ago, a wonderful organization in the U.K. called Changing Faces asked its Facebook followers if using the term “disfigurement” might discourage people from asking for needed help. The responses were varied, and it is not my intent to disparage Changing Faces, as they [...]
Three girls chatting with their smartphones at the campus

When a Snapchat Filter Mimicked My Medical Condition

This week Snapchat came out with a bunch of new morphing filters, one of which gives the impression of one-sided facial paralysis — a head-desk moment for those of us who actually have facial paralysis. Besides the more obvious question to me of why it’s entertaining to send morphed photos of yourself to friends, it [...]

Lowe's to Pay $8.6 Million to Settle Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

By Coolcaesar at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Lowe’s will pay $8.6 million to settle claims that the home improvement store fired thousands of employees with disabilities. The allegations from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claim the company “engaged in a pattern and practice of discrimination against people with disabilities by firing them and by failing to [...]