"People Need to Be Taught The Importance of Empathy": Emma Easton on Living with Disfigurements
At times, you are dealt with a raw hand in life. This was the case for Emma Easton, 31, who was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition as a baby, 'char syndrome', a genetic disorder characterized by abnormalities of the hand, a defective heart, affecting the structure of Emma’s face.
During Emma's school years, classmates would make negative remarks about her face stating that she was too ugly to participate in her favourite subject, drama or that she should cast as a troll. Further, classmates would intentionally make sure Emma was selected last while taking part in group exercises.
Failing to faze Emma off from her quest to succeed, she recalls this as the first time not caring about people’s negative opinions of her. This was the start of her journey to self-acceptance proving how ignorant they were.
Tragically, by her mid-teens, she became visually impaired, which resulted in her using a white cane. People would deliberately trip her up calling her a 'snout' or ‘piggy.' Such insults mentally damaged Emma causing her to spiral into a deep depression for the hurt she was going through.
During her early years of adulthood, Emma came across men who negatively ranked her facial appearance. Emma had every reason to want to give up on life, 'to end her life from all the abuse she suffered.'
At times, she would minimize the amount of contact she had with people to avoid the abuse, at times she would stand up for herself by approaching the person speaking about her behind her back in public saying that she could hear what they are saying, which would make the person look like a coward. A way of dealing with bullies head-on.
As her eyesight was getting worse and determined to find ways to adapt, Emma decided that she had enough of walking on eggshells because of people's lack of approval. Using Instagram as a creative outlet, she began talking to others, answering comments on her posts, which connected her to new people, friends, other artists and people with disabilities.
She no longer cared about the negative comments telling her "how ugly she was," as she received many positive ones. Not needing to seek other people’s approval, Emma has become self-validated. Supporting the charity, 'Changing Faces,' which help people who look different due to a scar or condition, Emma believes through education, kids can be taught the importance of inclusion and empathy to prevent what had happened to her to happen to them.
Changing Faces is the UK’s leading charity for everyone who has a mark, scar or condition that makes them look unique. For advice or support, visit their website here or call 0300 012 0275.