….but we are all fabulous.
Further to my previous post about asking the students to create a PhotoFit composite of my face, I just wanted to mention the artist Giles Revell, who in 2007, together with Matt Willey and Philip Oltermann, asked a selection of individuals to create a self-portrait using the old PhotoFit system. They include a police artist, a plastic surgeon, a woman with BDD, a transvestite, a woman in a hijab and a man disfigured by a tumour amongst others and the resulting images and interviews are definitely worth a look: http://gilesrevell.com/projects/photofit/l/#
Here is one of the interviews to whet your appetite. I chose this one in particular as a shout out to a fantastic charity called Changing Faces (https://www.changingfaces.org.uk) which works with and for people and families who are living with conditions, marks or scars that affect their appearance. Their work covers two areas: changing the lives of those affected and changing the minds of the general public with a view to achieving ‘face equality’.
I’ve always liked my nose, because that is the only part of my face that I actually broke myself – I practice martial arts – rather than having been broken or stretched by the tumour. They first discovered the tumour behind my eye when I was about 18 months old – up until then, I had been a normal baby, or, as I like to think, an exceptionally good-looking baby. It started around the eye and then moved across the right part of my face – eventually, the tissue closed up around the eye and they had to surgically remove it. The tumour speeds up as your hormones go wild during your teenage years – as you get older, it slows down, but it never really stops. Generally, I don’t judge people who decide to have surgery, but it should be a choice they make for themselves rather than pressure from society. I am quite happy with the way I look. By accident I once
looked into one of those distortion mirrors that double up one side of your face. I realised what I would have looked like without the tumour, and I actually found that quite shocking.
The ancient Greeks had this concept of ‘kalos kai agathos’, which inferred a link between beauty and goodness, and I feel we haven’t moved on from that as much as we should. It’s sad to see that the media doesn’t always make the distinction between how good you look and how good you are. I have a real problem with the way in which people with facial disfigurements are underrepresented, or worse, misrepresented in the public – that’s why I am on the Advisory Panel of the charity Changing Faces. Why, for example, is there no newsreader with a facial disfigurement out there? The only time you see people with scars in their faces they are the baddies. However, my personal hero will always be Danger Mouse, with the patch over his left eye. He carries his disability with real grace and dignity!