Modern methods of diagnostics can detect the presence of defects in a baby’s development even during pregnancy. With this in mind, women can make a decision to interrupt or continue it. In 1972, when Robert Hoge was born in the Australian town of Brisbane, there were no such opportunities. Having looked at her fifth child for the first time, his mother was terrified and initially didn’t even plan to take him from the hospital.
Robert was born with a large lump in the center of his face and deformed legs. Regardless of his "ugly" appearance, the family decided to try to provide the boy with a normal life. He underwent several operations to remove the tumor, began to use prosthetics, and turned out to be an active and otherwise ordinary child.
The boy has learned to answer uncomfortable questions since childhood: he simply explained that he was born like this. In adolescence, he refrained from further operations to correct the shape of his face, accepting himself the way he was born.
Robert never allowed his appearance to determine what he wanted or could be. He married a beautiful woman in his 30s and became a father to two charming girls. Before turning 40, the man had already had experience working as a political adviser, publicist, and motivational speaker.
In 2013, the world saw his biographical book Ugly, in which he told what it is like to be different. He wants children to feel comfortable in society, regardless of what they look like or what imperfections they may have.
Primarily, he made a few simple conclusions from his own experience.
- External differences aren’t a lack of beauty, but a feature that shouldn’t affect your self-esteem and ability to recognize your merits.
- Beauty ideals are changeable; there is no single standard.
- There is no need to pretend that there are no external differences between people.
- The fact that we are trying to create certain standards doesn’t allow children to perceive those who look different in a natural way.
According to Hoge’s beliefs, far more people suffer from a particular form of disability than we could have imagined, even though it doesn’t manifest itself a lot. The author believes that raising awareness of their problems, including internal struggles and experiences, would open up new horizons for them because everyone would like to be heard and understood. But how can others find out about this? Robert suggests doing it through fiction and making writers dedicate more works to people with disabilities. The author also suggested another way: to explain to children that these people shouldn’t be ignored.
Robert discussed his questions with many people and came to the conclusion that adults are quite dishonest in their judgments and perceptions. Children don’t feel the need to pretend to be polite. We need to help them identify differences – to understand that being different is normal.
Perhaps Robert Hoge wasn’t always pleased when his peers spoke openly about his ugly appearance. What do you think about the man’s desire to teach children not to be afraid of their interest and to respect people’s differences? Share your thoughts with us.