CW: ableism, vanity, suicide
“Can’t something be done for your face?”
“Is there makeup to cover that?”
“I have seen green makeup to cover redness – you can buy it at the makeup counter.”
“I couldn’t go out of the house looking like that.”
“You’re very brave.”
“I’d kill myself if I looked like you.”
Those are actual statements that have been said to me, multiple times, on top of the stares and intrusive questions.
Today I got tagged in Clementine Ford’s Instagram story, as part of her response to people asking if she will “get around in public” or can cover up with foundation after she had a cosmetic procedure on her face.
These questions imply that one shouldn’t leave the house if they have a facial difference. They’re thinly veiled statements that are vain, oppressive and ableist.
Firstly, I want to state, as Clem has, that facial difference is NOT the same as the side effects of a cosmetic procedure by choice. For me, having a facial difference and a severe skin condition is life long. For others, it might be the result of an accident, surgery, a violent act, or a developed later in life, with no explanation.
I don’t have a choice about going out of the house with a red, shiny face. I can’t cover up with makeup as that would irritate it more, and why should I cover up?
I could either stay home and never be seen, or live my life.
Beauty product advertising tells us we need X product to cover up “unsightly” skin, or reduce “embarrassing” scalp flakes. Filters are at our fingertips – to alter our photo in seconds. And people still just blurt out what they’re thinking – usually related to their own insecurities.
Going out of the house – and being in photos – just as I am is an act of defiance. It’s defying those who suggest I need to “fix” my face to make them comfortable with how I look.
I am brave, not for looking the way I do, but I am brave for enduring the vain, insecure and downright ableist projections from other people.
And if this post makes you uncomfortable – good. Sit with that discomfort, and consider how it feels to have these ableist statements said to you, implying you shouldn’t be seen in public with a facial difference.