Extraordinary People: Growing Up Without A Face Review: Beauty’s More Than Skin Deep

May 13, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

In a world where vanity and narcissism are used to sell the perfect (unobtainable) figure, flawless skill and inumerable products that promise a variety of cleverly worded lies, Julianna Wetmore’s story is as humbling as it is tragic.

At five years old, Juliana has already been through thirty operations to mediate the severity of her affliction: Treacher Collins syndrome. Juliana was born with one sealed eyelid, a complete lack of cheekbones, no nasal passage and almost no upper and lower jawbone.

She has grown up a delicate but resilient child; a fighter who has had to learn to eat and breathe through tubes, but is none the less intelligent and keen to learn. The documentary follows Juliana and her family whilst they prepare for her most recent operations – to place a stretching device in Juliana’s shoulder which her mother will then inject with water to create a larger area of skin, which can then be used to create cheeks.

As I watch footage of Juliana’s ardous recovery, I cannot help but feel for her parents, and the complex, heartwrenching decisions they have had to make on her behalf. Is it better to let Juliana continue her education without constant surgical interruptions, or to keep going with the planned operations whilst Juliana’s skin is still able to regenerate? Obviously, there is no right answer, but it is clearly getting harder for her parents to cause Juliana pain.

However, suffering is something that Juliana will have to get used to, as she begins her school career. Despite her teachers efforts to prepare the class for Juliana and her disability, her sister Kendra is all too aware of the typical  public reactions to her sister’s condition. As the young girl describes the need to protect Juliana from unwanted staring, and negative reactions based solely on fear I feel deeply ashamed at my own childish woes. Here is a child who has boundless energy, and is capable of reading, writing and enjoying life in the same way as any other child.

For all intents and purposes, Juliana Wetmore is an extraordinary person. I only worry about her future. Whilst as a child it is easy to get wrapped in cotton wool, safe in the bosom of a loving family, this barrier can never be permanent. I hope for Juliana’s sake, she is as strong as her family believe she is.

Sally McIlhone

Aw, bless. For more blubber-fest reality TV, check out our review of Bodyshock: 2ft Tall Teen. For more reality TV, why not check out our rather timely and hilariously ranty run down of the Top 10 Ill-Fated Reality Couples (we’ll miss you Jordan and Peter – sniffle).

Carol Delaney says:

Can someone take the ugly horrible comments off this? There is no need for anyone to have to read them. I saw the TV show about this little girl. She could teach us all a lesson or two in courage and strength, so could her family. They all amazed me, they are so resiliant, especially Juliana. What a wonderful little girl she is. God Bless her and her family. I really respect the parents for trying to improve Juliana’s life by putting her through those surgeries. It must be so tough seeing her go through that. These people have more guts and backbone in their little fingers than most of us have in our entire bodies.

Anna says:

I am thrilled with the tenacy of Julianna and especially of her Mom and Dad. Is a lesson for life. In a way I envy them for building such a loving environment. That is really all that matters.

marnie says:

awww i think that it is just sooooo sad and that i am really lucky not to have that. i am so glad that her parents love her so much and i wish her all the best.

Chong says:

I was at a complete shock when I watched this documentary from a Singapore TV.
As a father to a daughter, I couldn’t stop my sober for a pity girl like her, when she cried before operation. So much suffer, 29 operations, can anyone image what she has gone through?
Yet, I am happy the parents really love her and never abondon her, which in an eastern country, she may even been killed!
The courage it took to even love her, is shocking!
May her happy always!!!

fl says:

Can the moderator or admin please remove some nasty comments on this page? Thanks!

Steve Ledger says:

This girls courage and personality is an inspiration to us all.

Daniel says:

My mother recorded this on sky and I was watching it this morning – it’s amazing how much of a fighter this girl really is. And how lucky she is to have such loving and caring parents. They’re a real asset and are lucky to have such a character of a daughter. I hope everything goes well for her and her family.

bethany hollings and shannen tuck and bryong hollings says:

We realy feel for this girl, it is horrible to no that she has grown up like this. We wish you all the best for the future. x