I was born with a facial disfigurement.
One side of my face is malformed. I was raised by a wonderful family who completely showered me with love and care, and nurtured me into a confident person. People who don’t know me, look at me and think, “Oh that poor girl.” I thought I’d take a moment to share a different side to my life.
I just love being me. I don’t actually see myself as ugly at all. I look in the mirror and I only see things I like about myself. I just find it so strange as I almost everyone I know, looks in the mirror and hates themselves.
Sometimes I feel selfish and conceited for being able to think positively about myself, but then I realize that perhaps it takes practice and because I was born with more to hate, I had more practice at loving myself.
Let me take a few moments to share some random things I love about being disfigured.
1) People act like I’m superwoman if I say “Hello”, or if I can do 2 + 2 = 5 . What would they say if they knew I had travelled the world on my own at 20 years old, through a third world country as a deaf blind young, white female doing some volunteer work. Yes. I did that. I stupidly thought if I conquered the world I would conquer people’s attitude, but clearly not because I still face the same, “You Can’t” attitudes. So yes, I do love laughing at people who act like I’m superwoman for doing the tiniest things. If I didn’t laugh I think I’d scream.
2) I love the weird insights I learn from being the one who challenges everyone’s visual like-ability. For example, kids love me, and I love kids. Kids are so accepting of difference and it really shows that our aversion to “differences” is not something we’re born with, but something we develop as we grow. We become much more infatuated with “sameness” as we grow older.
3) I’ve been blessed for Halloween. My costumes are free and I’m ready in five minutes.
4) I could make race car noises or do strange things like sing, “Banananas commminngg down the staiirrsss” while pressing buttons on the elevator (not that I feel inclined to ever do those things). People wouldn’t think I was any weirder than I already was.
6) People think of me when they see Leila from Futurama. Time for a new purple hair do, don’t you think?
7) When people come up to me in the streets and asked what happened to my face I can ask questions like, “Why are you chinese?” or “What’s that on your face?”.
8) No one ever forgets my name (which is useful as I often forget my own name) and everyone recognizes the one eye’d girl no matter how much I age. I even had a nurse who was in the hospital when I was born come up to me in the street. She saw me at a mall and remembered my name fifteen years later.
9) I make everyone else feel good about themselves in their bikinis because they think, “I’d die if I were born like her. That poor girl. If that girl can show her face and I’m prettier than her, I think I can win at being the prettiest girl today.” How sad.
10) Men think I’m permanently winking at them.
All in all, I love being me. I know who my real friends are. They’re the ones that glare straight back at those who gawk at me. I’m always underestimated by people who meet me for the first time and it is incredibly frustrating and patronizing, but when I’ve blown them off their feet at least I hope the next time they meet someone like me, they actually have high expectations and more respect.
Physically, I actually like my red hair and my one blue eye. I don’t mind my body, or my legs. Even though my face might not be pretty, I like that I can play piano. I have so much that I can be proud of. I love art, cooking, writing, my dearest friends and people in the community who make my day so much brighter.
There’s so many things to love about being “different” from the norm. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, or afraid of. There’s so much to love about being human. I know everyone bitches about everything we can’t be, but sometimes we just need to focus on the things we can do.
While most people are staring at me with a disturbing false sense of sympathy, I pity them even more.
Ellie Fraser was born with a craniofacial disfigurement, profound hearing loss in one ear and severe hearing loss in her other ear. She has 20 % of her vision. She is currently studying at university and enjoy playing piano and creating artworks. She is passionate about making changing society for the better. She is active in many disability human rights groups and hopes to continue to support and offer them a degree of respect and honor as they so much deserve from us. She owes everything to her dad, who passed away just before she went overseas. She spent nine months caring for him as he battled last stages of pancreatic cancer .
Editor: Carolyn Gilligan