Rigid External Distraction survival
HomeAbout REDMy StoryTips LibraryParentsRED SurvivorsPhotosLinksContact


Basic Tips
Food and Diet
Handling the Public

First of all, this has more to do with growing up with a facial difference than with going through RED specifically.  I know everyone here already knows how to handle teasing and staring and everything, given that this is our life.  There's probably nothing I could tell you that you don't already know, but figured it's worth a mention anyways, if only to provide an outlet for my own venting that you will hopefully also appreciate.  Just consider this a summary of our communal experience - if you have any thoughts to add, I would LOVE to add them!  Just drop me a note

HANDLING THE PUBLIC THOUGHT #1 - preachy videos are stupid

Did you ever have to watch a video to help you "cope" with bullies at your school?  I did, and it was so incredibly pointless.  If you've seen this movies like this, which offers this technique demonstrated by child-actors with terrible "defects" (things like braces or glasses that everyone has at some point anyway), you know what I'm talking about.  The script goes something like this:

NARRATOR: The next time someone teases you about something and hurts your feelings, you should take control, by forcing them to repeat their insults to prove that their words have no power over you.  Let's see this technique in action as glasses-wearing Billy puts Butch in his place!

BUTCH: What are you, a four-eyed alien or somethin'? hehehe (pokes his BUDDY in the ribs)

BILLY: What did you say?

BUTCH: I said: What are you, a four-eyed alien or somethin'? hehehe (pokes his BUDDY in the ribs)

BILLY: What did you say?

BUTCH: I said: What are you, a four-eyed alien or somethin'? hehehe (pokes his BUDDY in the ribs)

BILLY: What did you say?

And so it goes thanks to the screenwriter's ability to copy/paste.  Eventually, we get to:

BUTCH (with aggravated emotion): I SAID: WHAT ARE YOU, A FOUR-EYED ALIEN OR SOMETHIN'??? ARGH ARGH ARGH (jabs BUTCH BUDDY in the ribs)


BILLY: Wow Butch! You just called me a four-eyed alien 8 TIMES!  Wanna come over after school and say it to me again 8 MORE TIMES?!  your words have no effect on me!  Goodbye.

And with that, Billy walks off as Butch sulks in his own embarrassment.  Inspirational, right?  But seriously, has anyone actually tried this?  Did it work?  In real life, I'm guessing that Butch and his buddy would just think that poor Billy is a four-eyed alien who is not only weird looking, but hard of hearing as well (which, ironically, is exactly what I am anyways).  Needless to say, that method doesn't fend off people very effectively no matter what the child-psychologists say; they don't have Pfieffer's, Apert's, or Crouzon's, so why listen to them? 

HANDLING THE PUBLIC THOUGHT #2 - small children staring is annoying, but when their parents join them it's... well, let's just say they ought to be grateful we have self-control...

Before RED, I couldn't go to the mall without those little kids staring at me! I've always been told "they don't know any better" but that's a hard pill to swallow, and often times it's not even true!  I mean, come on!  When you were that age, you knew not to point and stare at people, right? It seems that somebody would've fed them some manners by now!  But maybe they're parents just never told them or something, so it's better not to get worked up about it.  Instead, just remember that you might be the first person they've ever seen who's "different," so you have to represent all of us.  My first instinct is always to stare back or scowl at them in revenge, but I realize that doing that could actually lead them to think that every "different person" is mean.  It's a terrible responsibility to be stuck with, but who else is going to teach a kid that we're not monsters, but normal people? 

So what do you do? You smile at them, maybe wave if they're not too close to you. Now I know, it's sickening, really, it is.  It's hard to act friendly to a little annoying kid. I know it and I know you know it, but just think of it as extra acting practice. Maybe you could even add it to your resume.

Adults are the absolute WORST!  My goodness, what kind of example are they setting for their kids?  Have you ever been at the grocery store or something and you catch a little kid pointing at you around the produce section.  Then the mother looks over to see what has gotten her kid so riled up and she sees you, and she glares!!!  It's as if she's saying "how dare you frighten my innocent child with your deformity!"  I mean, seriously, you want to punch her, right?  What kind of parents do that? 

I don't have a lot of advice other than keep up the smiling and they'll go away eventually.  If they're somewhat nice, maybe they'll smile back.  After all, maybe they're not even aware that they're staring, or maybe they got too much botox and their face is stuck that way.  If they really are mean enough to be doing this on purpose, well, that's their problem.  You've got bigger issues to deal with, like deciding what to call them in your tell-all memoir you'll eventually write and sell for millions

HANDLING THE PUBLIC THOUGHT #3 - People who are "just curious" and people are legitimately mean can be equally annoying

I know that parents/teachers/doctors/random strangers are trying to help us out when they tell us that strangers who come up to us and ask us point blank: "what's wrong with your face?" are "just curious."  But seriously, does knowing that they're "curious" really take away the pain of knowing that people think there's something "wrong" with you?  Not a chance!  In some ways, having a stupid person say "your face is messed up!" is easier to deal with than the "what's wrong with your face?" question because at least the stupid person is, well, stupid.  They're only trying to make me angry, so I can just dismiss them as an idiot without caring what they think of me.  But I do care when someone legitimately states that my face is "wrong" as a fact, without the ulterior motive of insulting me.  In this ridiculously image-is-everything culture, any attacks to our appearance, whether "innocent" or overtly mean, are just unacceptable.  Period. 

Now, I'm not saying this to make people mad.  Some people might argue that I'm worsening the problem by writing about it and thus, making other people in my position "aware" of a new reason to get angry.  Puh-leeze.  They were already angry, they just had enough self-control to hold it inside like I did all those years. 

I personally am really open about my condition and I totally don't mind talking about it or answering questions from my friends who want to know.  But those are my friends, not random people at the airport! 

But anyways, my random ranting won't make this stop this all-too-common occurrence, so my only suggestions for "coping" is to just calmly say "I was born this way," spit at their feet, and walk away.  Okay, just kidding, leave out the spitting (waste of saliva anyways), but do just keep your explanation short and leave it at that.  You don't owe them anything, and they don't deserve any extra harassment from you (they are, after all, "just curious"). 

HANDLING THE PUBLIC THOUGHT #4 - Things I always wanted to do, but am glad I didn't

This is my fantasy section, where I can list all the things I've wanted when people were rude.  Please feel free to add to this list, I would so love to hear your thoughts!  Please DON'T use any of these things, this is for your entertainment only!!!

  • Tell people that I'm an extraterrestrial searching for intelligent life on this planet... but have yet to find any

  • Threaten to give them my disease if they don't stop being so rude

  • Gross them out with medical terminology describing my latest surgery

  • Put a "curse" on them using my "powers" (I am a monster after all, right?)

HANDLING THE PUBLIC THOUGHT #5 - No amount of cyber-venting can make the teasing stop, so we all just have to deal. 

I love you guys and truly wish none of you would have to put up with this garbage on a daily basis, but I know that despite my hopes, many of you do.  I know you know how to deal with it better than anyone around you.  If you ever need to vent over the internet, or have any "thoughts" to share, PLEASE email me!  I totally mean it when I say I love hearing about your experiences!