SXSW Panel Disfigurement Discrimination

More than a third of people living with disfigurement have experienced employment discrimination. This is why our community matters and why we are heading to SXSW to make a case for it.

Since the inception of MIGA Swimwear, I have interviewed over 100 different people to understand the disability, chronic illness and disfigurement experience. The majority of the interviews have been conducted with women who have these conditions, to understand their unique views on life, on how best to live day-by-day with the uncertainty of a diagnosis, diagnosed or undiagnosed. All of these women are courageous, strong but above all resilient. And just like everyone else, they want the same as you and me. They want love, they want a job that makes them proud when they go to bed at night, they want to be respected, equally in their field and as valuable members of society. Ultimately, they want to belong.

While I have never been discriminated due to my disfigurement at a job interview (admittedly, I have never applied to be a foot model but I am pretty sure I would not get a callback), from a very young age, whether by explicit or implicit bias, I learned that my disfigurement was something I needed to hide. My disfigurement is something that brought my value, as a woman but also as a human being, into question. What was my value if something in my body didn’t look like everyone else’s? By 8th grade, I was convinced that my disfigurement was some kind of symbol that made me not cute enough, didn’t matter how much I would develop my personality. My worth would always come into play when I was barefoot. For some, my height or my short legs was enough of a tell-tale sign to label me as below average. 

I used to look at myself in the mirror and think everything else looks passing as far as I keep my socks on. I did not realize, however, that giving up the freedom of being barefoot would replace one issue with another. At the beach or the pool, I would become quite socially anxious. While before I loved swimming, swimming competitively even, now I was passing the opportunity to go with my classmates on a cruise graduation trip. The thought of being barefoot 24/7 being too daunting to bare. By giving up that freedom, not only did social anxiety creep in, I started to feel the ick of dishonesty all over me. Add to that the internalized shame I felt for having a rare condition that made me “weird”. So now at the ripe age of 15 years old, I felt deceitful and fake. 

There was no incentive to disclose, in fact I was encouraged by my parents not to, their protective side while well-intentioned doing more harm than good. In the years to come, I hope to become a mother and I wonder if in my parent’s position I would do anything differently. I grew up in the 90s, the psychology of appearance was not as advanced as it is today. With the advent of social media and the commodification of displaying what makes us unique, you can find communities in the far reaches of the web that celebrate your condition, no matter how rare. If I were to have been a parent in the 90s, I would probably done the same as my parents; the world was not ready for it then and yet, sometimes I wonder if it is ready for it now? 

With the statistics of social media’s mental toll on appearance matters, I worry that it is not. More than a third of people living with disfigurement have experienced employment discrimination, this percentage rises to 45% among 18 to 34 year olds. No longer can we play dumb and deny that discrimination towards people who have disfigurement is real and carries economic burdens to the members of this community and to society, overall. That’s why Ariel, Nathalia and I will be giving a panel at SXSW on the disfigurement experience this year. We are hopeful that in a year when the world opens up, it will be a world much more conscious about the health inequalities in this country. 

Let’s make this upcoming opening, the mask-free-year, a year where people that have burn scars, cleft palates or psoriasis will no longer have to hide AND will not have to experience employment discrimination. As a society, I am optimistic that we now understand that the health of many is the health of all. That we have come to terms with our mortality somewhat and that as a result, we will become more humane towards those that are not part of our silo. No longer can we be ignorant of the experience of the other, we need protection and we need society to care, do you care? If you do, please help us signing the following petition

Comments

  • Posted by Eric Jones on

    Hey, my name’s Eric and for just a second, imagine this…

    - Someone does a search and winds up at migaswimwear.com.

    - They hang out for a minute to check it out. “I’m interested… but… maybe…”

    - And then they hit the back button and check out the other search results instead.

    - Bottom line – you got an eyeball, but nothing else to show for it.

    - There they go.

    This isn’t really your fault – it happens a LOT – studies show 7 out of 10 visitors to any site disappear without leaving a trace.

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  • Posted by Eric Jones on

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    PS: The studies show 7 out of 10 visitors don’t hang around – you can’t afford to lose them!
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  • Posted by Eric Jones on

    Cool website!

    My name’s Eric, and I just found your site – migaswimwear.com – while surfing the net. You showed up at the top of the search results, so I checked you out. Looks like what you’re doing is pretty cool.

    But if you don’t mind me asking – after someone like me stumbles across migaswimwear.com, what usually happens?

    Is your site generating leads for your business?

    I’m guessing some, but I also bet you’d like more… studies show that 7 out 10 who land on a site wind up leaving without a trace.

    Not good.

    Here’s a thought – what if there was an easy way for every visitor to “raise their hand” to get a phone call from you INSTANTLY… the second they hit your site and said, “call me now.”

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    Talk With Web Visitor is a software widget that’s works on your site, ready to capture any visitor’s Name, Email address and Phone Number. It lets you know IMMEDIATELY – so that you can talk to that lead while they’re literally looking over your site.

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    Time is money when it comes to connecting with leads – the difference between contacting someone within 5 minutes versus 30 minutes later can be huge – like 100 times better!

    That’s why we built out our new SMS Text With Lead feature… because once you’ve captured the visitor’s phone number, you can automatically start a text message (SMS) conversation.

    Think about the possibilities – even if you don’t close a deal then and there, you can follow up with text messages for new offers, content links, even just “how you doing?” notes to build a relationship.

    Wouldn’t that be cool?

    CLICK HERE https://boostleadgeneration.com to discover what Talk With Web Visitor can do for your business.

    You could be converting up to 100X more leads today!
    Eric

    PS: Talk With Web Visitor offers a FREE 14 days trial – and it even includes International Long Distance Calling.
    You have customers waiting to talk with you right now… don’t keep them waiting.
    CLICK HERE https://boostleadgeneration.com to try Talk With Web Visitor now.

    If you’d like to unsubscribe click here http://boostleadgeneration.com/unsubscribe.aspx?d=migaswimwear.com

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