I endure an hour long drive to and from my office Mon-Thurs, so I get to listen to the radio quite a bit. Most mornings there is a humorous discussion or something that is at least just interesting to listen to people provide their input on. This past week there was a segment on the station I listen to, where someone calls in with a problem and then other people can call and text in their input/advice. It’s a clever segment and can be beneficial to the person with the problem…but the problem that came up was very sad.

A girl called in who was getting married soon and was doing all of the things that go with planning a wedding, including the invitation list. As a back story, she shared that when her father was in her late 20’s he suffered severe burns to his face after a bad car wreck. She even admitted that they are bad burns to his face. Her fiance had been acting strange while discussing the wedding and not long after, his mother reached out to this girl and asked if her father could be un-invited from the ceremony due to his physical appearance. Obviously this girl was calling in to see what other people thought of the situation. And it wasn’t clear if her fiance asked his mom to reach out to her, or if he was just acting weird because his mom was putting pressure on him about it.

There is that natural instinct that we have to rapidly draw a conclusion about anything. And my first thought was “Wow, what a piece of shit this guys mom is”. It’s absurd to think that a girls father would be uninvited to her wedding due to physical appearance. This girl even made mention of what a great dad he has been to her. So there is clearly a strong bond between them, and yet her fiance’s mother is calling her dad out on something that he has no control over. How is that fair to him?

Someone called in actually agreeing that he should be uninvited and that the family should have it’s own private get together to include the girls father either before or after the wedding. This caller made two decent, but arguable points. Firstly, the fathers appearance could scare any children that might be present. To that I have to argue that many of the children present would be relatives or friends of the family who likely already know this man anyway. And if it’s from kids on this girls fiance’s side of the family then they need to get used to her dads appearance seeing as he will now be part of their family too. Secondly, the caller mentioned that this mans appearance could take away from how special his daughters day is to her, by taking attention away from her. People are cruel and it’s true that he could get more attention than he should, especially from the fiance’s side of the family. But my answer to that is even simpler…GROW UP.

We live in a world where people strive for perfection. We do so for our own appearance, for our schedules, for our work life, for our personal life, and so on and so on. NOTHING IS PERFECT NOR WILL IT EVER BE. So to the people who gawk at others who are different, fuck you. And in nicer words, that’s what this girl needs to tell her fiance’s mom. I think they should have a discussion about it and she should explain what her dad means to her and that he has every right to be at the wedding as anyone else.

There is no questioning the fact that burn victims can be terrifying to look at. It’s so abnormal compared to what we are used to that it reminds us of something from a horror movie. But while first glance can be scary, there do exist people that know that appearance is not what makes a person. The type of people who can look past such a feature and see someone for who they really are.

When I was much much younger, maybe 10 years old or so, my parents took me to a theme park. I’d been to it before and I went many times after that, but this was when they had just opened a new section up for kids. There was a smaller roller coaster for kids and big play area with swings and slides, and even an area to play in water. I recall playing in the water and then going down large metal slides…WOW I went down them fast! But I also recall seeing something that I would never forget. Playing on the play ground was a kid younger than me, maybe 5 or 6 years old. His parents were playing with him and while he seemed to be having fun it wasn’t like the same fun that the other kids were having. His face was very badly burned. It didn’t even seem like a human face it was so bad. I can perfectly picture him in my mind even after all of these years. Not knowing how to process what I was seeing. I’d never seen anything like that before and I didn’t know what to think.

The image of this kid has remained with me ever since and I do still think about him. What his childhood must have been like, and what life now is like. I know the world and I know that no matter how good someone looks, there are plenty of people out there who will still criticize. And I know that this individual could not possibly go anywhere without being treated differently…without being constantly looked at, and the horrific facial expressions that many people have probably had around him. To live like that his whole life… I just can’t even imagine. And all I have ever been able to do is hope that he has been able to maintain a positive attitude through it. Because if he can do that, then he can anything.

Life itself is hard enough…people make it even harder.

Every day is a fight for something, another strive to pull our heads above the water in this unfair world.