Thursday, 20 September 2018

Valuable Things Having an Uneven Face Has Taught Me.

I have had a somewhat disfigured face for the past three years; a dent formed on one side, and an accompanying bulge just underneath it, after my temporalis muscle moved following my second brain op in 2015.

It’s over a fortnight since I got my face fixed by a brilliant cosmetic surgeon. In that time, I’ve seen my face change a little bit every day. Bits of it have gone from yellow to purple to grey to blue; the enormous swelling has stuck out, shrunk, and shone. I’ve had two black eyes, an irritated scalp, and crusty blood in my hair (that I am still washing out). But I’ve been trying my best to live with all these things that have come with my recovery, and I’ve even been out and about a few times since I’ve got some strength back. I’ve felt quite confident, considering. 
And I’ve learned a lot – before this latest operation, and after… 


(Photo: Erin Veness)
(dress and earrings from JOY)
(necklace from Stargazy)


People stare.

They can’t seem to help it. It often makes me wonder if I’d be the same, seeing someone walking down the street or sitting near me in a cafe with an 'unusual' appearance – would I stare? Well, the answer is most definitely no. But then, I feel I am sort of fortunate to have a distinct level of consideration and understanding when it comes to that kind of thing, as I have experienced it myself before, not just in previous recovery periods, but also in having a visible scar across my head and a dent in my face for the past 2 years. 



Sharing isn’t obligatory.

This might just be me – I’ve really felt under pressure lately to put up a post-op selfie on social media. I mean, I’m all about body confidence and body positivity, so surely I should be happy and eager to share my story with anyone and everyone, right? The thing is, though… I don’t want to. I want to keep this private, and only show myself to those I trust or feel truly comfortable with, until I’m less insecure. I can only hope people respect that.



The kind people look you in the eye.

It is SO weird how many people feel they can definitely speak to you while quite obviously looking at your disfigurement. I have had many a conversation recently (pre- and post-op) in which the person I’m talking to has had a major eye-flicking issue, in that they’re constantly fighting to not look at one side of my face, but can’t keep their curious eyes from returning to it every few seconds or so. This sucks quite a bit, but also makes me appreciate those who address me kindly and, in my opinion, correctly by looking me directly in the eye and never letting their gaze wander. It not only makes me feel much less self-conscious, to the point where I almost forget my dent/swelling/bruising is there, but also valued and, dare I say it, ‘normal’.


(Photo: Erin Veness)
(dress and earrings from JOY)
(necklace from Stargazy)



Beauty is subjective af.

Okay yeah, I already knew this, but this recent experience of disfiguration, and the many that preceded it, has really hammered it home. I wish I could say this to my teenage self, and can only hope teens and adults alike are more aware of how true it is: everyone is unique, and everyone is gorgeous, in their own way. It’s not all about having a perfectly symmetrical face, or the size of a certain body part being just so, or even dressing a particular way – it’s staying true to what you believe and love, and putting your feelings first. Example: the popular girls at school make fun of your backpack covered in pin badges, or your colleagues sneer at your bold new haircut. Do you care? Does it make you love your bag or bob any less? No? Then screw ‘em. It’s their issue, not yours.

Just the other day I bumped into my favourite pre-school teacher, and she immediately told me how beautiful I looked, then asked me what I’d been up to lately. When I said I’d had more surgery, she exclaimed ‘you don’t look any worse for it! Nobody will ever pity you, you’re so gorgeous’. Yes, there’s a good chance she was being extra sweet because she knew I needed it, or maybe she just hadn’t quite seen the extent of my bruising, but I really felt she meant every word, because she is one of the precious few) individuals who sees beauty in everything and everyone. I strive to be more like her, and tbh I can think of many others in this world who should, too.  


(Photo: Erin Veness)
(dress and earrings from JOY)
(necklace from Stargazy)



Don’t feel pressured to hide.

Don’t avoid going to the supermarket because you’re worried about who you’ll bump into in the biscuit aisle. Don’t put off a trip to the Post Office because you’re convinced Julie on the till will squawk with concern and draw attention to you. If you feel confident and comfortable enough, go out and do things. It’s hard, but the worst thing you could do is stop taking care of yourself and actually living, because you’re afraid of what others will say. 


(Photo: Erin Veness)
(dress and earrings from JOY)
(necklace from Stargazy)



How interesting – this post mostly ended up being about other people’s issues with my somewhat disfigured face. And my issues with their issues!? Who saw that coming?

How do you feel when you see folks with unconventional looks, or disfigured features? Do you ever find yourself staring? What even is beauty!? Gimme some answers in the comments below, or via tweet. I could talk about this forever. 



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