Facial palsy awareness: Freya’s journey to a smile

Freya Beaumont was born without a smile, and now she is helping to shine a light on facial palsy as part of an awareness week.

20-year-old Freya has unilateral congenital facial palsy, which affects the nerves and muscles in the left side of her face.

Her condition meant that she couldn’t smile or close her left eye, and in essence had no movement on the left side of her face at all. When she was younger, she underwent two surgeries in London with the intention of giving her a smile, and it worked.

Now, she, and others who have facial palsy, are raising awareness of the condition, and have launched a petition asking the government to do more to support those affected.

Key messages they are hoping to share are the difficulties people have accessing healthcare, the psychological impacts of the condition and the day-to-day struggles faced.

Over 100,000 people are thought to have facial palsy in the UK. However, there aren’t many nationally funded investigations for treatments or cures, so support is limited. There are over 50 causes of facial palsy, and it can happen to anyone at any time in their life.

Previous campaigns have shared the message that people can be happy without expressing it as a lot of people with the condition are unable to smile.

This week they launched a Twitter campaign called ‘#facemyday‘ for people to share their own experiences.

The condition seriously affected Freya’s confidence and self-esteem when she was growing up, and school was not an easy experience for her. She said:

“It hasn’t always been easy. When I was little I didn’t appreciate that my face was any different from other children’s faces, but when I started school, it soon became more apparent.

“Other children would tease, point, stare and laugh at me. I felt like I didn’t fit in. At secondary school, I was bullied a lot about my appearance and I struggled making friends. I would go home crying.”

Sharing her personal experience to help shine a light on facial palsy is important to Freya, and she wants more to be done in the country:

“I have always wanted to raise awareness of facial palsy because I want to help others who have facial palsy so that they do not feel alone and insecure about themselves.

“I have also just written a petition and letter to my MP to raise more awareness by asking the government to encourage greater awareness of the impact of facial palsy in the UK.”

The campaign hopes to not only raise awareness, but also help people with the condition. Freya’s advice for anyone who is facing similar issues is that they are not alone and being different is a good thing because it makes you unique. Her final message is to not measure beauty by your external appearance because real beauty lies within.

The petition for the government to do more with awareness and support of  facial palsy can be found here.

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