Skin Deep

I’m pretty choosy about the television programmes I’ll watch these days but when I see something produced by Mint Productions, I never fail to be disappointed. Last night saw the screening of another programme in the RTE series ‘True Lives‘. It was called ‘Skin Deep‘ and covered the topic of living with a severe facial deformity. The message conferred by the programme was clear-cut – it’s no fun being facially different. Lives are changed forever by a facial deformity. It can have a devastating effect on people who have to cope with being ‘different’ in a world that’s obsessed with image and appearance.

Mr. Michael Early, Consultant Plastic Surgeon, explained how the anatomy of our faces and our facial expressions affect communication. He talked about the ‘triangle of communication’ – the area of the face between the eyes, the nose and the upper mouth. The programme featured five people with a variety of severe facial deformities which had been caused by genetics, or by an accident or as a result of cancer. These remarkably courageous individuals all possessed huge insight into how they are perceived by ‘normal’ people. Some people give them a ‘funny’ look, others look ‘curious’, while some take a ‘serious’ look and then ‘look away’ ashamed to have been caught staring. People who have a facial deformity lose their anonymity and become ‘different’. Their faces look unfamiliar and don’t conform to what ‘normal’ people look like. Society can be very cruel at times.

This programme has certainly helped me to keep my situation in context. I was pleased to learn last night that I’ve already taken the first step towards acceptance of my new look following recent surgery – I’ve got used to seeing my new face reflected in a mirror and no longer search for the ‘old me’. I know that true beauty comes from within. People need to look past the face which is after all, only skin deep – it’s what’s in the heart that really matters.

6 Responses to Skin Deep

  1. Nonny says:

    Oh Steph I recorded this last night and watched it when I came home. I have to admit I was shocked not at the people but at their immense bravery particularly the two younger people Kellie and Stephen (I think), When I heard that young lad talk I cried real tears I tell ye, not out of pity but just at the injustice of it all he seemed to be really struggling. And did you hear the other man’s wife (can’t remember names, his bib burned onto his chin when he was 2) a woman actually went up to her and said what’s a nice looking girl like you doing with a guy like that, O my God. The other thing was I am completely confused I thought modern day cosmetic surgery would be able to repair these supposed imperfections?

  2. Steph says:

    Thanks Nonny. I agree with all your comments. I too thought that today’s cosmetic surgery would be able to offer more but perhaps it’s just the usual old story – with our health service, you have to go elsewhere if you’re a little out of the ordinary and not everyone gets to have that choice.

  3. Grannymar says:

    Sounds like it was a good programme last night.

    Today’s cosmetic surgery is a little like modern technology, great WHEN it works!

    When they don’t live up to OUR expectations we are cross.

    Modern surgery is moving on every day, such a pity that Society is not moving with it and accepting physical difference!

  4. Bendygirl says:

    Hi Steph, I didn’t get to see this programme, but I’m so glad it helped you (even if only in a small way) along the acceptance process. I’ve seen a similar sounding show and thought the point made by the surgeon on that was very good, that plastic surgery is still far from able to work miracles, cosmetic surgery is totally different.

    I personally believe it’s society that needs to change not surgical techniques. Eradicating imperfections is a slippery slope and in my opinion is part of the reason why people are so unhappy with themselves today.

    Bendy Girl

    PS, I’m waiting to watch Born To Be Different now, reviewing it is a great idea!

  5. Brian Boru says:

    While not deformed, I felt as a fairly unattractive gay man a sense of empathy with these people. I watched in on recommendation from a fellow gay friend as he felt I should consider how less fortunate some people are with regard to appearance. To be honest I identified with some of the self-esteem issues among people in the program e.g. dreading going out. I admire the girl for her courage in not letting her looks rule her, but while I admittedly am not as bad looking as most in the program, I feel resentful at some of the teasing I get for having a below-average appearance. I identify with something one of the men said about someone humiliating him in public by mocking his appearance. About 4 yrs ago I was stopped in town by a secondary school pupil who made fun of my head and I was devastated especially as it was so public and in front of everyone. Gay men are especially fixated with looks and I often feel nature if playing a cruel joke on me. I hope shows like this will cause some of the crueler souls among us to think the next time they are inclined to ridicule those less fortunate in terms of appearance. Beauty may be skin deep but ridicule of someones appearance cuts straight to ones self-esteem.

  6. Steph says:

    BB – you raise some excellent points. This series ‘True Lives’ is trying to highlight awareness of difficult issues and to stimulate discussion like this. Society can be very cruel at times. People need to learn to ‘think before they speak’!

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