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Appearance, Discrimination and the Media

A Policy Brief by The Policy Observatory, published by University of Westminster Press

By Diana Garrisi, Laima Janciute, and Jacob Johanssen

The portrayal of disfigurement in the UK media must change. This policy brief is based on recent research that found a general negative and sensationalised attitude towards disfigurement in the media.

Disfigurement is a condition that can affect anyone at any time in life regardless their social or demographic background due to accidents or health conditions or be congenital. In the UK, one in 111 people have facial disfigurements.

In order to improve the ways in which media portray disfigurement, this policy brief argues that media should move away from sensationalised coverage on disfigurement and focus instead on the lived experiences of individuals with this condition. It recommends strengthening diversity-oriented editorial practices and training as well as media literacy education. In addition, it addresses the lack of guidelines on the portrayal of disfigurement and urges regulatory bodies to be more efficient in handling complaints.

Garrisi, D et al. 2018. Appearance, Discrimination and the Media: Portraying Facial Disfigurement Fairly in the News. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book31


This book distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

The Policy Observatory

About The Policy Observatory

The CAMRI Policy Observatory aims to amplify the impact of our research on policy debates and developments nationally, internationally and globally. The Observatory engages in outreach, networking and publication activities, seeking to establish links with a variety of policymakers and stakeholders, including civil society, media organisations, politicians and government officials.


The Policy Observatory
2 August 2018
Research Area
Published By
University of Westminster Press
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