Nicholas Nikiforou | Weston-super-Mare, UK
Positive Role Model (Disability)
My vision has been for all individuals to be accepted in society for who they are. My outlook on life is - if we all embrace each other’s differences, no matter what they are, the world will be a better place.
I have a passion for equality and love and I campaign through my art, singing, and motivational speeches to envision a future of kindness, love and compassion.
I was born with a pre-cancerous large congenital melanocytic nevus. This covered 2/3 of my face which was removed, leaving me with a lot of scarring on my face. I’m considered ‘disfigured’ by terminology under the 'Disabilities Act'. This is a term I strongly disagree with and whilst I want equality, I also advocate for facial equality.
I have been severely bullied all because of the way I look. It took a long time for me to realise the good impact I could have on the world, I believed people when they told me that I was worthless, when they told me I wouldn’t be anything because of the way I looked. But throughout the years, I have learnt that what we look like doesn’t define us.
The only thing that can define us is our drive for change, the dreams we have, and our actions. But, throughout all of it all, we must always remain humble and true to what we believe in.
My scars simply told me and showed everyone that I have been through something, A long hard journey of countless of surgeries and I am still here standing.
I am a survivor, I am not a victim.
In 2016 when I was the 'FACE OF KINDER', I became a person with a facial difference, on a famous chocolate bar.
But then...something still didn’t sit right with me.
When Newspapers in the UK were writing about me, I had a lot of support but then I noticed some newspapers saying ‘Birthmark boy becomes Face of Kinder’. I sat in my room repeating ‘birthmark boy’. Just in shock.
Is that really what I was seen as by some?
A birthmark boy?
Rather than someone who has made history, I was seen as a ‘birthmark boy’.
This wasn’t good enough for me. Why are we in the 21st century still being defined by the way we look? Why are we being discriminated against based on things that make us all different and unique?
I don’t have the answer and I still don’t know. But this is my vision, the world needs love. This is why we are on this earth, to give our whole self to the world to make it a better place for future generations. I was inspired to change something. If you feel passionate about something, you can make that change.
I want equality.
This started me on my journey which is why I am privileged to be able to reach individuals through my art, singing, and speeches.
My vision is to encourage individuals to embrace what they do have and what they can be, rather than focus on what they do not have or may think they cannot be.
I must be honest that at times in the beginning, I lost faith in humans, I felt that everyone was staring at me in the same way those who bullied me did. I had people and peers laughing at me, physically hurting me, saying very unkind things to me, and some I can’t forget and would not repeat…but I have learnt that we need to trust in the journey we are going through and not lose hope. Not everyone is mean, we all have the ability to love. We all have the ability to be kind. I believe that if everyone is given the right education, the world can be a better place through love, compassion, empathy, sincerity and we can overcome sometimes what we think we cannot.
I used to find it very difficult to look people in the eyes as I felt they were going to judge me based on the way I look but as I have embraced through my journey, I have learnt that everyone is always going to question things and as long as it’s done so in a compassionate manner, then this is fine. I realised that this has nothing to do with myself. Being a Diana Award anti-bullying ambassador has given me the skills to stand up.
I also campaign for facial equality within the media, and how people are perceived. I disagree that I was the first child with a facial difference to appear/ ‘model’ a chocolate wrapper and wanted to change this because I felt the media didn’t portray and express the true diversity in society. Why should I be the only one? Winning Kinder was a special moment for me but I believe that we should all be given that special moment and equal opportunity, it shouldn’t be an ‘extraordinary’ occasion. We should be encouraged to be proud of our differences and never be made to feel shy about who we are.
I have learnt that throughout the years, despite challenges and road blocks along the way, you can overcome them by having selfless commitment to transform the lives across the world and use your dedication and compassion to accomplish this.
I feel that my message is being spread globally and this is so important to me. I am proud of the work I have achieved. All our lives have a purpose, the impact we have on others stretches further than the small town we live in.
We are all equal.