The very first Facial Palsy Awareness Week launches on 1 March and people from around the world are getting involved.
UK charity Facial Palsy UK have spearheaded this campaign:
“During our 2015 campaign we intend to highlight the social, physical and psychological consequences of living with facial paralysis. Facial palsy goes beyond looking different, but by sporting half beards or half make-up, we aim to start a dialogue about an often misunderstood condition that affects over 100,000 people in the UK.”
Friends and family of people with facial palsy (as well as some health professionals) are using social media to share their half make-up and half beard selfies to raise awareness.
In the UK as well as sporting half-beards or half-make-up, volunteers are organising walks and concerts, and footballers from Northampton Town Football Club are also showing their support by agreeing to be photographed in Facial Palsy UK T-shirts.
There is a Facebook page on which people will record their events and experiences in the awareness week.
In the USA Heidi Moss is getting friends and celebs involved in an #AboutFace campaign during Facial Palsy Awareness Week. Heidi was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy in the third trimester of pregnancy, as a talented opera singer the condition has had a significant impact on her life. Heidi is asking people to tweet pictures of themselves with a half moustache, it can be real, half covered up, drawn on, or as creative as people like! Heidi is asking people to support either the US-based Facial Paralysis Foundation or Facial Palsy UK.
Facial Palsy is a condition with a profound impact on normal daily life. People with facial palsy find normally simple actions (such as smiling, scowling, winking and pouting) difficult. Being self-conscious about using facial expressions is a barrier to communication; people with facial palsy may prevent themselves from smiling to try and hide their asymmetry, giving the impression to others that they are unfriendly. Smiling is key to how people communicate and build relationships, and when the ability to smile is taken away, the effect on a person’s emotional well-being can be quite devastating.
Smiling is, after all, a universal greeting that people recognise all over the world, no matter where you come from, or what language you speak.