What is Face Equality?
Face Equality is about recognizing that every face is different and unique, and that irrespective of facial appearance, every person deserves to be treated fairly and equally. The value of every person should be determined by their unique contribution to society, and not by how they look.
The campaign for Face Equality was launched in May 2008 by the UK charity Changing Faces, with the aim of creating a world in which people with facial disfigurement are treated with respect and valued as equal citizens, free of prejudice and stigma. The aims of this campaign echoed with Sunshine's mission of upholding the rights of people with facial disfigurement and so in 2010, Sunshine Foundation began to promote Face Equality in Taiwan.
Why is Face Equality important?
Attitudes towards appearance have a real impact on people's lives
Despite saying that "we shouldn't judge a book by its cover," the reality is that appearance does affect how we perceive and interact with one another. The 2013 survey on the perception and experience of Taiwan's public towards appearance showed that:
- 1 out of 5 people in Taiwan have once been treated differently because of their appearance (ex: being laughed at, being called names, etc.)
- Of those who were once treated differently, two thirds said the impact was negative (ex: loss of self-confidence, don't want to interact with other people, etc.)
- 76.7% of respondents believe that appearance plays and important role in social relations.
- 55% of respondents are conscious about their physical appearance, 16.6% of respondents have a physical characteristic that causes them distress and 11.6% of respondents are not satisfied with their appearance.
- 17% of respondents have kept distance with someone because of their different physical appearance, 14% have called someone names because of their different physical appearance, 10.7% have criticized someone because of their different physical appearance, 4.6% have laughed at someone because of their different physical appearance.
An implicit association test done online in 2014 revealed that the public easily associated negative characteristics and stereotypes to people with a visible facial difference, perceiving them as having less confidence, more easily feeling inferior, being lonelier, etc. People with good looks have popularity and success, while people with facial disfigurement live less fulfilling lives, they have less abilities so we shouldn’t have high expectations towards them, they have less friends, etc. Implicitly perceiving people with facial disfigurement has having more emotional issues or being less achieving further perpetuates negative stereotypes and stigma that have serious implications in their daily lives, ranging from staring and unfriendly comments, to denial of equal opportunities and even bullying and violence.
What is being done to promote Face Equality?
Social educationSunshine’s social educators organize educational activities in schools, businesses and communities to explain and promote Face Equality.
Face Equality Day
Through Face Equality Day held annually on May 17, Sunshine Foundation wants to raise awareness about the issue of discrimination based on appearance and change people’s attitudes towards facial disfigurement.
Sunshine advocates with government and businesses to remove barriers and discriminatory practices that affect the equal rights and access to equal opportunities of people with facial disfigurement.
Participation in Face Equality International
In 2018, Sunshine became one of the founding members of Face Equality International, an alliance of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), charities and support groups which are working at national, regional or international levels to promote the campaign for Face Equality.
How can you support Face Equality?
- Individuals can become aware of the negative impact of implicit attitudes and stereotypes on appearance prevalent in society, stand out and support Face Equality.
- Schools can promote inclusion of children with facial disfigurement and teach about respect of differences.
- Businesses can promote a culture and practice of respect of facial difference, as well as guarantee equal opportunities.
- Media can adopt a positive representation of facial difference and disfigurement, thus contributing to changing attitudes and prejudices.
- Government can actively address discrimination and unequal treatment through the development and implementation of better policies.
- 2010-2013: Sunshine begins to promote Face Equality through social education activities in schools and through public service announcements.
- 2014: Sunshine organizes the first Face Equality Day in Taiwan on May 17. This first event held in Taipei City Municipal Zoo is a fair that attracts parents and children. Through educational games and the use of animals with different characteristics, children learn about respect of facial difference.
- 2015: The second Face Equality Day fair takes place in Taipei and in the southern city of Kaohsiung. Sunshine also launches its first Face Equality video raising awareness about how our attitude towards appearance influences the job interview process. The video is shared online and viewed over 2 million times.
- 2016: Sunshine launches its second Face Equality video raising awareness about how our attitude towards appearance results in discrimination and denial of opportunities, in this case when looking for a rental. With the slogan of WE ARE THE SAME, Sunshine organizes an interactive exhibition of photography, music and art installations to conceptualize Face Equality during the third Face Equality Day. Over 15,000 visits.
- 2017: Sunshine celebrates the fourth Face Equality Day with another interactive exhibition.
- 2018: For the fifth Face Equality Day, Sunshine partners with the Taipei Expressway Marathon to hold the first Face Equality-themed marathon. Sunshine also becomes one of the founding members of Face Equality International, an alliance of like-minded organizations dedicated to promoting Face Equality.