“I didn’t even leave my apartment. I was so worried that people would stare at me or say something.”
Britton Athol Mills, 28, was born with a rare disease – a cystic hygroma – that causes cysts to form throughout the body.
It’s part of a new awareness campaign launched in the UK about the impact of looking at people with defects. According to new research, there was an increase in hostile behavior towards those with clear differences.
Changing faces says the number of people with a clear difference who report experiencing aggressive behavior has fallen from one in three in 2019 to two in five last year.
A third of the participants in the study, in which 1,000 people were interviewed, said they were “stared at” because of it.
According to the NGO, one in five adults in the UK is known to have a visible difference, such as a scar, mark or condition, and more than a million people say they have a significant disfigurement.
Mills says he often notices people staring at him. “There were moments when I tried to hide, and people really followed me to try to keep staring at me,” he told the BBC.
“My two sisters used to get really annoyed because people were looking… They tried to stand in front of me. So it affects not only me, but the people around me as well.”
That’s why Mills decided to take part in the awareness campaign.
“Sometimes people don’t realize they’re staring. I kept telling them it’s impolite to look at me. I think some people clearly don’t mean any harm. It’s about raising awareness and educating people.”
Britain’s Amba Smith is also 20 years old and studying to become a special effects makeup artist. She also has a noticeable difference – a nevus that extends from head to toe.
“From the moment I walked out of the maternity ward, I had bad looks and comments.”
According to her, her father and mother were telling her that people were looking at her because they thought she was “beautiful”.
“But I knew deep down that wasn’t the case.”
Smith says he has now learned to be proud of his birthmark.
“And my mother-in-law doesn’t define me, nor does she make me the person I am now,” he says. “If my mother-in-law for so long defined who I am, now she doesn’t know it.”
At the age of 14, Briton Shankar Gallota developed Vitiligo, a condition that affects the pigment of the skin.
He told the BBC: “I was working in a shop at the time. It was awful – you could see people’s eyes moving from left to right, looking at the white spots on my skin.”
“I remember it affected my mental health; I wondered why it was, why I couldn’t control it.”
Gallota’s goal of the campaign is to get the public to embrace people with obvious differences, starting with social media.
“We are helping our future generations to grow up in a more welcoming world,” he adds.
what should be done?
If for some reason you find yourself staring at someone who has an obvious difference or distortion, the advice is to smile, say “hello,” or admit the mistake with an apology.
According to Changing Faces
The NGO survey also showed that just over a quarter of people with a visible difference were seen on the job, while nearly one in five reported being overlooked for opportunities to develop, promote, raise salaries or contact customer/client in the environment. work.
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