Your Face, Your Identity: The Stigma of Craniofacial Abnormalities

Health CareYour face makes up a huge part of your personal identity. Whether you like it or not, your face is the first thing people see. Because of the standards set by society, people who want to impress others often cover up scars or blemishes with a little makeup or concealer. While most people are good with this setup, children with craniofacial abnormalities don’t have the same option. Kids with facial differences such as cleft lips, disfigured external ears, and other unique challenges experience a more difficult time accepting themselves. Not everyone understands their condition, which often results in a barrage of bullying and teasing. There’s nothing you can do about social stigma. But The Craniofacial Foundation of Utah remains optimistic, believing that there’s something you can do with your response and how you raise awareness.

Understanding the Stigma

The term ‘stigma’ has roots in a Greek word that means ‘brand’ or ‘mark.’ The word perfectly describes what children with facial differences experience with their peers. In some cultures, craniofacial abnormalities literally mark the child as evil or cursed. While banishing children to the wilderness is a barbaric practice that is unlikely to ever happen, they still face rude comments and stares. Society’s high regard of physical appearance makes kids vulnerable to poor body image and low self-esteem, especially for teenage girls. Children with craniofacial abnormalities will also meet people who don’t understand and are ignorant. This ignorance drives them to misunderstand these children.

Stomping Out Ignorance

Ignorance is the root of misunderstandings. To make the world a better place for children with craniofacial abnormalities, the first step is to raise awareness. Unless people understand them better, there won’t be any room for acceptance or a decrease in bullying. Today, technology is your best friend in raising awareness. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter make it easier to share your insight on your child’s condition. You can also use these sites to spread information about craniofacial abnormalities, which can also support other families. Social stigma will always be there to affect your child, but your response matters most. Don’t let society dictate how children see themselves. It’s best to teach them that their face is special and others have no right to tell them otherwise.