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What Started My Face Equality Journey

Updated: Apr 6

Written by: Wesley Sanders, FACES Outreach Coordinator

If you know me, you know I can write until my hands bleed. I hoard pens and cover everything from family complexities, short stories, and agriculture life, but the topic I find myself writing about the most, I’m sorry to say, is suffering.

My advocacy journey started long ago when I put my words together on paper, but that was indeed the extent of it.

Advocating is the ability to support a particular cause. I advocate for Face Equality because I have a facial difference, and have been of the receiving end of the consequences of ‘looking different’. 

My “real” advocacy journey was sparked by TikTok — coincidentally. I will quickly shy away from any camera, but I posted a cute video about how I broke my arm at a Clemson football tailgate. My TikTok video received a lot of attention. My face was now plastered on nearly half a million people’s phones. I opened the app, and I saw a notification inside. 

“She’s ugly.”

“Broken arm? You mean face?”

“You have no neck.”

“Broken eye sockets is what she meant.”

The comments were incessant. I didn’t know I’d receive so much attention on my post. The comments were embedded with nastiness and attacked the length of my neck, the shape of my face, my eyes, and beyond. I was amazed that people dared to rebuke my appearance.

I don’t know what compelled me to take to TikTok, a silly little picture and video on how I broke my arm that day because I was still camera shy. The books always say people like me hate attention, but that afternoon, I settled into the silence of my bedroom and felt compelled to respond to each comment. 

It got me thinking, “What parts of a person are valuable enough to warrant kindness?” So, that’s where my advocacy began.

I started sharing pieces of my story, defining a craniofacial condition and what life could look like for someone like me. My advocacy journey all began because I wanted to change the narrative. Our faces may look “different” than the average person. Many of us have scars that tell our own story. Some of us have fresh trauma soaked into our bones from surgeries and medical treatments. Thankfully, I can handle vile comments. Thankfully, friends flooded the comment section on my TikTok post, admonishing the commenters’ claims. I came into possession of thick skin most of the time. Most of the time I possess a thick skin and an understanding that people can be mean.

This life begets tight lenses on what matters, but I will never condone or readily allow someone’s appearance to be under attack.I knew I could handle the comments, but I wanted to be a voice for those who couldn’t advocate for themselves. I was speaking for those who understandably are overcome by fear, the victims of comments like these who might fall to their knees right in front of the sink, choking sobs filling their throats. We all want to be treated with respect and kindness, not attacked for our appearance.  

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FACES: The National Craniofacial Association
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