Despite all the turbulence and hate he received as a child from people and schoolmates, today, Lancaster is sharing his inspiring story of how he came to embrace himself as he is.
When Jonathan Lancaster was only 36 hours old, his parents abandoned him. Lancaster, from West Yorkshire, was born with Treacher-Collins Syndrome (TCS), a rare genetic condition affecting the development of facial bones and tissues. The Mayo Clinic said most people with TCS have "underdeveloped facial bones, particularly the cheekbones, and small jaw and chin." Lancaster's parents left him because they were "horrified" by his appearance, and he had to live through a difficult childhood while growing up. Despite all the turbulence and hate he received as a child from people and schoolmates, today, Lancaster is sharing his inspiring story of how he came to embrace himself as he is. "I hated my face, but now I'm proud of it," he told BBC News.
Lancaster is very vocal and transparent when it comes to sharing his condition. "I call them my little Bart Simpson ears," he said, explaining about his condition. "I don't have any cheekbones so my eyes appear the way they are." When Lancaster was 5, he was adopted by a loving home with a social worker named Jean, who fostered him and other children with disabilities, reports PEOPLE. However, Lancaster recalled that his childhood was filled with unhappy memories from his school life. "Looking back at high school, I have so many amazing memories, but behind those moments, there was me trying my best to fit in," he said. "The older kids would pull their eyes down. They would sing or make chants up about myself."
He added, "As I got older and people started getting into relationships that kind of didn't happen for me, and that's when I developed so much hate for my face." Lancaster said he was in a "really, really dark and angry place" when he thought about his birth parents, so he wrote them a letter. "A couple of weeks later we got a letter back, and it said, 'We do not wish any contact. Further attempts will be ignored.' And both of them had signed it," he said. "Being rejected by those two people again, it hurt." Though it hurt, Lancaster did not let it bother him and eventually discovered his true calling when he was approached by students at a school where he was delivering a talk about his condition.
Lancaster went on to found the Love Me Love My Face Foundation, which supports and raises awareness for people with craniofacial conditions. He shared how the media portrays those with facial differences on his Instagram, saying, "It's very common that a movie would use somebody with a visible difference and they will have them playing the bad guy," he said in an Instagram post. "Villains, monsters, evil creatures…It has such a negative impact on you." Lancaster also wrote a book titled, "Not All Heroes Wear Capes," set to be out on July 20, 2023. "It's about the heroes that I've met in my life, and how ultimately, I became my own biggest hero," said. "Truth is, my life has been full of a lot of love and a lot of adventure."
Lancaster revealed the book cover on his Instagram, hoping it would inspire many others. "Ultimately, you can become your own biggest hero," he said. "That's what this book is about. Becoming your hero, full of self-love." In the comments, people praised Lancaster for sharing such private details in his book, with many even pre-ordering it before the shelves get cleaned out. "Not me ordering your book in a heartbeat and waiting to be the first one to read it! So excited to fill my heart with self-love!" said @afraidofsunrise. "Oh my goodness that's an incredible achievement! Can't wait to read it!" added @boaty_helen.