The Ugly Truth: How Disfigurement Changes Identity

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Your face is how the world sees you; for some that makes life easier and for others it builds character. Sometimes it’s hard to separate who we are from what we look like. Could you still be the person you are if you got into an accident that left your face disfigured? Photographer Rut Mackel explores this theme with a project that challenges our perception of aesthetic appearance. He explores the beauty and ugliness that exists in everyone by having normal-looking people make themselves ugly by pressing their faces against a glass mirror.


According to Mackel:

”Face is a symbol of personal identity. It’s the mirror, or the mask of the self. The mirror either ‘reflects’ or ‘distorts’. Our faces are us. Thus, facial disfigurement can be particularly distressing.”

The London-based photographer seeks to understand how our perceptions change when the aesthetics of the face are transformed, how our opinions of the subjects change, how the subjects’ perceptions of themselves change in this temporary disfigurement, and how one would deal with looking this way all the time. See more images in Rut Mackel’s gallery.

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