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The Other Side of Carrie Underwood's Comment About Her Facial Scars

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Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Crystal Hodges, The Mighty’s contributing editor, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway.

In January, Carrie Underwood publicly shared that during a fall a few months prior, not only had she broken her arm, she also injured her face. Not knowing how her face would look in the months to come, she shared with her fans, “When I am ready to get in front of a camera, I want you all to understand why I might look a bit different. I’m hoping that, by then, the differences are minimal, but, again, I just don’t know how it’s all going to end up.”

On Thursday, Redbook shared an interview with Underwood in which they talked about her facial injury. When asked if having a facial injury shook her confidence, Underwood replied:

It was also a perception thing, because I look at myself [now] and I see it quite a bit, but other people are like, ‘I wouldn’t have even noticed.’ Nobody else looks at you as much as you think they do. Nobody notices as much as you think they will, so that’s been nice to learn.

As I read that last line, and as I read the interview, I realized how different Underwood’s experience is from my own and from most people with facial differences.

As someone with a unique facial feature, and as a fan of Underwood’s, I’ve paid close attention to her story. I’ve been waiting to see how Underwood would handle her situation and how people would react. Would she cover her scars with makeup? Would she stare a body positive movement while inspiring women around the world? Would she make her goal and mission to change Hollywood’s beauty expectations for women, and its perception of facial differences and scars?

While I’m glad that Underwood’s experience has been positive when it comes to people’s reactions, her experience has been quite different than mine. People ask:

“How’d you burn yourself?”

“What’s wrong with your face?”

“You’d be more beautiful if that birthmark weren’t so prominently placed.”

“You know there’s makeup that can cover that, right?”

I hear questions and statements like these both in the real world and in the digital. It isn’t uncommon for me to leave the house and hear someone say something about the purple hue on my face, or to stare at it.

My face is “different.” It’s not what people expect to see when they look my direction. More often than not, people notice my difference – they always have.

For people living with a facial difference, what Underwood said, “Nobody else looks at you as much as you think they do,” couldn’t be further from the truth.

People stare.

Strangers ask questions – sometimes kind, but more often with an unkind and harsh tone.

Trolls write hateful comments online.

People without medical degrees offer unsolicited health advice.

People give unwanted makeup advice.

People notice.

Underwood’s injuries and scars happened to her later in life. She has had to adapt to the changes her face had undergone. I was born with a facial difference and don’t know life without it.

Underwood’s facial injuries have injured her confidence. My facial difference made mine stronger.

Her scars can easily be hidden by expensive makeup she can easily afford. I can buy the makeup, but I can still see the outlining of my birthmark, and nothing can touch the symmetry issues my birthmark has caused to my lip, nose, and cheek.

My port wine stain birthmark has given my left eye glaucoma, causes migraines, affects my teeth and so much more. From what has been made public so far, her scars are just appearance-based.

Underwood and I? Our stories and situations are different. Our experiences are different, as are the reactions we’ve received. Yet, if and when she chooses to share more of her experience around her facial injury and scars – I plan to follow her story. Because even in the midst of our different experiences, both of our experiences are real. They’re both valid. They both matter.

Image Courtesy of Carrie Underwood’s Facebook page

Image via Creative Commons/armadillo444

Originally published: August 7, 2018
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