Does the ‘good-looking’ winner take it all?

Since I last blogged, what a sea change there has been! It’s a long time since we saw a Coalition Government – 1929-31 – and I can recall my father saying it was a very difficult time indeed as the fall-out of ’29 Crash caused major unemployment under a very unpopular Government. It will be interesting to see if their ‘Big Society – Nurturing Responsibility’ manifesto comes to fruition and what impact it will have on charities and social enterprise. Quite a lot of debate about what is ‘civil society’ (the new name for the Office for the Third Sector) which I relish – even if not everyone likes the phrase!

A rather different cultural, if not economic, backdrop compared to the ‘30s though – did you see Junior Apprentice has started? It had one contestant, Zoe Plummer, coming out with a predictable – and uncontested – myth: “You have to look good if you want to make a deal. Ugly people don’t win”. How misguided… but I fear a whole generation may be unwittingly thinking in the same way.

What counts is not ‘looking good’ but how you present your self in your face, body and clothes and in your gestures, eye-contact, voice tone, conversational skills, your attitude and credentials and much more – and of course, your negotiating skills if you want to make a deal!

There is much research to that confirms what many of our clients with disfiguring conditions report: although initially conditioned by such views, they have found a way out of the ‘beauty trap’ in which their minds are locked and have strengthened the way they present themselves in all sorts of social situations.

One day a contestant on one of those reality shows will have a disfigurement to their face but it will be entirely incidental to how well they do…

However, I don’t spend all my life watching such TV shows! Last week I was at a fascinating debate about how children are portrayed in painting and photography. One of the participants, an adman through and through, spoke about how he had responded to the challenge of articulating the aspirations of young people with disfigurements to live in a world free of facial prejudice and discrimination. You can enjoy the full discussion, as it will be available on the Royal Society of Portrait Painters website very soon.

The ad campaign he created is already gathering plaudits – you can see the posters on our website and read why Lucas, one of the young campaigners featuring in the ads, took part. Essentially it was because he felt he was deemed as incapable of achieving – winning – anything at school or in life because he looked ‘different’. “Look at me now” he asserts with such gracious good humour and commitment, showing how he had proved all those assumptions totally wrong.

Please send me other examples of this volte-face so that under the new regime, we can make face equality a reality.