My name is Logan Zelenak and I was born with a fast flow venous malformation in the lower left side of my face. When I was a kid this was characterized by a small bump and some discoloration on my chin and cheek. As I grew so did my little bump, and when I was nine I acquired a long scar on the left side of my face and neck from surgery that attempted its removal. The theme for IFEW 23 “We will not hide” resonates with me differently now than it may have a year ago, or ten years ago. All the same, it’s a message that I wish Little Logan would’ve received as a child, because I had received so many messages that my face was something to be ashamed of (whether those messages were intentional or not).
A few months ago, I started a chemotherapy medication that affected my hair. I had to buzz it and it’s stayed that way for about five months now. Losing my hair was multi-faceted for me emotionally. My hair was my shield for my facial difference. When I didn’t want to deal with pointed fingers or questioning looks while out in public, I could just let down my shield of long hair to cover as much of it as I needed. Now that’s not an option.
When I was younger, I used my hair to cover up my facial difference in photos or I would turn my face so the viewer could see the right side that was mostly unaffected.
Over time I’ve grown more comfortable and confident in my facial difference, but like anyone, with or without a facial difference, I have my bad days too.
Bad days or good days, I choose to no longer hide my facial difference. Today, I am so proud not to hide. To me, my facial difference and scar are powerful. It’s a map of where I’ve been and have yet to go. My scars only further contribute to the complexity of who I am, and I refuse to be apologetic or ashamed about any of it. I will not hide the left side of my face in shame. I will not hide my lopsided smile that’s suffered nerve damage and I will smile fully and authentically wherever and whenever I can. I am proud to be me. Facial difference and all. And today, if I could erase it, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
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