Shane says he’s pleased to let people know about his condition. He says: “I have a unilateral coronal craniosynostosis, which I understand is non-syndromic. However, I have congenital scoliosis in my neck and thoracic areas of my back. As I’ve gotten older, my neck has started to become more painful. My neck looks like one long line instead of sausage links.

Other complications of the craniosynostosis include compromised vision. I am legally blind in my right eye, the side that was affected by the synostosis. My ear canals are shorter than most people too. Growing up I suffered from significant ear infections. In addition to the craniosynostosis, I had some ear penning done because my ears stuck out too far. How can I forget the cleft lip and palate? Operating on the cleft lip and palate were also part of the facial surgeries I had. Along with the craniosynostosis, I have Duane Syndrome.”

I never thought much about facial discrimination until I was asked if I had ever been discriminated against due to a facial difference. (Microsoft Word has trouble recognizing the phrase “facial discrimination”). Facial discrimination is not publicized as much as other forms of discrimination because most people with facial differences do not want to bring attention to themselves. Furthermore, employers can get away with facial discrimination because it is not considered a protected class such as racial or sexual discrimination, unless classified as a disability. Looking back, there was one time I can think of that I was possibly discriminated due to facial appearance.

The time I felt that was discriminated against due my facial features was when I was passed over for a sales position. I had all the qualifications for the job, and I even had my supervisor write a letter of recommendation for me so I would have a better chance of moving into the role. However, management saw differently. Even though I had the skill set, had been a top salesperson month over month – exceeding and smashing sales goals, and had held sales positions previously, I was passed up for the job. The person who got the position was let go from another company I worked at because they could not reach the sales targets. The less qualified person got the job, while I was left in the same position with no foreseeable career advancement. At this same job, I was also passed up for another sales opportunity, which was given to somebody from outside the organization, and who was new to the industry. Their only sales experience was in retail electronics. The only possible reason I could figure I did not get these jobs was due to facial discrimination. You see, I was good enough to keep in the backroom and do service work, but not good enough to meet face to face with customers, or vendors, or even represent the employer at conventions or other business marketing events.

As I think about other times, I look back to when I was younger. I was not picked to be first on any sports teams, not because of my athletic abilities, but due to my facial differences. Many kids called me Frankenstein, or as I grew older, Shrek. There were other times I was overlooked, or passed over on the academic level; not due to my lack of intellect, but what could only be facial differences. Having facial differences makes other people think there is something wrong with the person’s ability to process information. This has happened not only in childhood but adulthood too. So, I have learned to accept that due to having a facial difference means I will never be in the “Cool Kids’ Club.” Since there are not many people with facial differences being outside the “Cool Kids’ Club” can get a little lonely.

Photograph courtesy of FACES: The National Craniofacial Association

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