Woman Born Without Cheekbones Speaks Up: Physical Defects Don’t Equal Mental Disabilities

by Emerald Pellot
Emerald Pellot graduated summa cum laude from New York University with a degree in Writing & Popular Culture. She worked as Senior Editor of College Candy for 2 years, covering feminism, popular culture, and college life before joining LittleThings in 2015. Based in New York City, Emerald covers a wide range of topics from human interest pieces to celebrity news.

Katie Whicker, a Salt Lake Valley, Utah, ski resort worker is speaking out against strangers who judge her. She was born with Treacher Collins syndrome, a condition that caused the bones in her face to stop developing while she was in the womb.

“Because I have a physical difference, people think I have a mental difference too, so I feel like I’m always explaining or proving people wrong,” Katie told Caters News. “They don’t ask questions, they just assume and are most definitely mistaken.”

Katie has had 56 surgeries to correct deficiencies in her face, building up her jaw using hip and rib bones, and opening her nasal passage.

“I’ve had a person come up and say to my face, ‘You shouldn’t work here because you’re stupid,’ which was unbelievable,” she says.

Much of Katie’s life has been defying people’s expectations about her abilities and intelligence.

“There were a few bullies who would ask what’s wrong with me. Then there were others who thought I must be stupid, until I beat them in the spelling bee and other tests,” she says.

Katie prefers if people simply admit they don’t know her situation and just ask questions.

“Some parents try to stop their kids from asking questions, but in honesty I much prefer it to people staring and wondering,” she said. I want to raise awareness of this issue and help others to realize that no matter what their problems are, they can get through them.”

Katie is a prime example of why our looks have so little to do with who we really are.

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