Gender equality, race equality, disability rights, minority rights, etc., are all familiar concepts that inform the political, economic and social spheres of our society.
Less familiar perhaps, but no less important, is the principle of face equality, championed by organisations like Changing Faces, the UK’s leading charity for people with conditions or injuries that affect their appearance; and its sister organisation, Face Equality International.
Face equality is about being treated fairly and equally whatever the appearance of one’s face or body. As someone who lives with a visible difference, face equality is particularly close to my heart and since this week is Face Equality Week I want to share something I wrote a few years ago and which reflects my personal philosophy on appearance, ability and the human essence:
I believe we are all born whole, and that no life is less worthy than another.
I believe that what makes us fully human is that intangible essence within us and it has nothing to do with physical or intellectual ability, the number of chromosomes we carry, how we look, what we produce or achieve in the course of our lives.
I worry about a future where scientific ‘progress’ means that no babies are born that don’t conform to societal standards of what is normal. For such a world would be not only poorer in diversity but also more intolerant, cruel and divisive.
That’s not a world I want to live in, nor would I ever wish for such a world for my children, grandchildren and future descendants.
I believe that just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is ugliness and the perception of what is normal.
It’s all a matter of perception and perceptions can, and do, change.
What’s ugly to you is beautiful to someone else; what’s strange, freakish and hideous to one is perfectly normal to another.
Ultimately, we all have a choice in how we look at things. If you look for ugly, that’s what you’ll find.
If you look for beauty, you will find beauty in places, beings and things you never imagined.