When Saturday Night Live aired “The Anomalous Man” skit in which writers portrayed a man with extreme facial difference as a comedic device linked to hideous behavior, my first reaction was outrage and a desire to lash out. It would certainly have made me feel better to be reactive in that moment, for a moment.  But the SNL skit represented a bigger issue that our Board, staff, and craniofacial families we serve felt needed a thoughtful approach.

We asked ourselves if there is a way to use this moment to create impactful opportunities for public awareness and education about craniofacial differences so that young writers sitting in a closed room at NBC will no longer think it funny to spend time, as Rena Rosen, Inclusion Coordinator for JCC Chicago and recipient of the 2023 myFace Courage Award, so aptly put it, “…feeding into every trope that disability advocates and the facial differences community have been advocating against for decades.”

So, rather than attack, we rolled up our sleeves and focused on a strategic approach to educate and engage. The first step…get to top executives at NBC to explain how the SNL skit impacted the myFace community. We shared compelling stories of courageous, powerful, talented, and successful individuals with craniofacial differences. We asked NBC to tell those stories and help create a more positive representation of the craniofacial community in the media.

Next step…send our “positive” and compelling stories to ABC News, Good Morning America, Today Show, ABC Nightline, CBS This Morning, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Bloomberg News, Inside Edition, NBC Nightly News, Scripps News Network, and CNN. We invited these outlets to tell myFace stories and interview Dina Zuckerberg, Director of Family Programs for myFace, to talk about her lived experience, her work, and the myFace Wonder Project, which she founded to teach students the importance of choosing kindness and being an upstander for individuals with facial differences.

As we wait for responses, we know this much…the issue of poor media representation of the facial difference community is not going to be fixed overnight. Long-term success requires patience, commitment, and building brand awareness among those people who can help make a change in the media.

As Board President, you have my promise, the promise of the myFace Board of Trustees, and the promise of the myFace staff…we will not stop. We will persist and do it with the same grace, understanding, and kindness that we expect from the rest of the world. We will lead by example.

That said, the myFace Celebrates Gala hosted by ESPN’s Hannah Storm, who has her own personal experience with facial difference, is happening on June 5th in New York City. The evening’s distinguished speakers are Dr. Joseph G. McCarthy and Dr. Eduardo D. Rodriguez. I’ve had a preview of the musical performances by members of the craniofacial community, and they are outstanding. Tickets are still available, and it will be a night to remember. We hope you’ll come lend your support to the programs myFace provides. Most importantly, united together, we can make a difference for the craniofacial community.

William S. Villafranco, President, Board of Trustees, myFace

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