People with facial differences share the most absurd things people say to them in public.


It’s no secret that ABC TV’s You Can’t Ask That is one of the best shows on the telly right now.

(If this is news to you, please stop whatever you’re doing and watch an episode or 10 right this second.)

It’s powerful, confronting, honest and is smashing down barriers and stereotypes. Last night’s episode may have been the best yet.



It featured several people with facial differences, including Carly Findlay who has ichthyosis, a genetic skin disorder characterised by dry, scaling skin that can lead to dehydration, infections, chronic blistering and overheating, and Dean Clifford, one of the few people in the world to suffer from the very rare skin condition Epidermolysis Bullosa which leaves skin as delicate as tissue paper.

Dean Clifford. Image: ABC/You Can't Ask That.

After answering a series of questions anonymously posed by the public with great honesty and humour about their appearance, how it affects their confidence and relationships and whether they consider themselves disabled or not, the group were asked one final question.

"Do people pity you?"

It was a resounding no.

"They do and I hate it. I tell people all the time you don't need to feel sorry for me. I'm not sad about who I am - I like who I am," said Elly from Adelaide, who was born with one eye, one ear and spinal abnormalities.

Elly from Adelaide. Image: ABC/You Can't Ask That

"Yes. Yes, they do. They say  'Oh, you poor thing. It must so hard being like you' or 'I couldn't do that'," said Findlay.

"I had a lady who gave me a seat on the tram recently and I smiled at her and said 'No thanks, it's fine' and I got off the tram.

"Then I was in a shop looking at some books and I feel this knock on my back and then she's like 'Excuse me - you are beautiful and Jesus loves you'.  And that really shits me."

From L to R: Belinda, Carly and Keira. Image: ABC/You Can't Ask That

Belinda Downes from Newcastle who's face "didn't grow together in the womb" shared a similar experience.

"I've had people cry at me on buses. They go 'Oh, I feel so sorry for you!' and I'm like 'Why? I'm just going to work!'"

"I have a really good life. I've lucked out on a few things and yeah, it's probably not what I would have chosen but it's what I've got and I'm happy with it," 19 year-old Keira Higgins, who was born with Parry Romberg Syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder, from Brisbane said.

Findlay summed up the group's sentiments.

Listen: What no-one is saying about Molly Meldrum at the Logies. Post continues after audio.

"I don't want pity. I just want people to see me and raise their expectation that people with facial differences are leaving really good lives."

Lesson learned.