Recognizing difference: in/visibility in the everyday life of individuals with facial limb absence

Gili Yaron, Agnes Meershoek, Guy Widdershoven, Jenny Slatman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


People who lack part(s) of their face have a visibly different appearance both due to their facial difference itself and the medical aids that they use to cover it (e.g. prostheses, bandages). In this article, we draw on interviews with affected individuals in order to investigate how visible difference features in their everyday experience. The visibility of their facial difference, we show, comes into play as they interact with various others in the contexts of their daily life. However, respondents’ visibility manifests in different ways, depending on whether they cover or uncover their facial difference. These different modes of visibility make for distinct ‘visibility experiences’, as participants meet others who notice–or fail to notice–their atypical appearance. By exploring these experiences, our article provides insights into the role of visibility in interviewees’ everyday life, and demonstrates how they actively negotiate their social recognition within encounters with various others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)743-762
Number of pages20
JournalDisability and Society
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2018


  • Visible difference
  • facial disfigurement
  • facial prosthesis
  • medical aids
  • social recognition

Cite this