A WOMAN who was cruelly mocked for her nose has learned to embrace its peculiarities.
Joanne Charlton, 24, Huddersfield, was called a “pig nose” by bullies in the school corridors.
Because of the abuse, she eventually stopped going to school.
She says: “Growing up I suffered years of abuse from bullies at school who ruined my life.
“They called me ‘pig nose’ and ‘no nose’. It was awful.
“I hardly left the house – I was afraid of what people would say.
“But I don’t care what people think and I finally feel confident in my skin. I want to encourage others with facial differences to feel that too.”
Joanne was born with cleft nose, where the nose is split in half.
The condition occurs early in pregnancy when the two halves of the head do not fit together as intended.
As a teenager, Joanne was aware that she looked different from other children.
The business administration and marketing graduate says: “My parents always told me that I had a ‘special nose’.
“Although children sometimes stared at me, I didn’t let it affect me and was a happy child.
“I loved performing and dancing.”
A facial cleft can cause some symptoms, such as impaired breathing, and surgeons tend to begin operations at a young age.
From the age of six months, Joanne underwent several corrective plastic surgeries to improve the appearance of her nose.
But when it came time to go to secondary school, Joanne, then 11, was hesitant to go.
Joanne says: “I was afraid of being bullied. I knew there would be kids there much older than me.”
But the bullying Joanne experienced was far worse than she ever imagined.
She recalls, “When I walked through the halls, students would stare at me and call me nasty names like ‘pig nose’ and ‘no nose.'”
“It hurt that they said such terrible things even though my condition is not my fault. I just wanted to fit in.”
Joanne’s confidence began to wane and eventually, at the age of 14, she began skipping school.
When anxiety symptoms appeared, she stopped going out in public alone.
Luckily, Joanne still managed to pass all her GCSEs and went to college to study health and social care.
But her fellow students continued to insult her, so she changed colleges and studied business administration.
Joanne says: “I have decided to focus all my energy on doing well in my training.
“Nothing would stop me from achieving my goals.”
After college, Joanne underwent her sixth surgery in July 2018 at age 18, which left her with new scars and a dent in her nose.
Still, she was happy with the results – until another bully commented on her appearance.
Joanne says: “One evening I went out with friends and a stranger told me my nose looked broken.
“For this reason, a year later I decided to have another operation to correct the scars.
“It changed my appearance massively and luckily no one ever bullied me again.”
Joanne’s confidence began to improve when she went to the University of Huddersfield at the age of 20 to study business and marketing.
Joanne says: “That’s when I decided not to have any further surgery. I had had seven over the years.
“My looks weren’t the most important thing about me compared to my intelligence and compassion toward others.”
Now Joanne is not afraid to go out in public and loves going out with her boyfriend and going to concerts with friends.
If people are ever curious about her appearance, she would much rather talk about it and simply explain her condition.
Joanne says: “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.
“I don’t care what people think about me and I accept my facial difference. I want others to do the same.
“Beauty goes under the skin and that’s what counts.”