Dawn Shaw

Facing Up to It

When Dawn has a fast-growing tumor removed shortly after birth, it not only reshapes the left half of her face, leaving it deconstructed and paralyzed; it reshapes her entire life.
Her journey of self-discovery and acceptance involves the physical, the emotional and the spiritual. Reconstructive procedures during her childhood are necessary to improve jaw alignment and function, and each surgery presents its own set of experiences, challenges and complications. Yet each also leaves its own scars. She is teased, mocked and bullied, and friendships don’t come easily, but she has the love, support and protection of her parents, two siblings and a few close friends.

Upon reaching puberty, however, the crushing reality sets in that she is unattractive to opposite sex. In high school, she bands with the other outcasts who give her a sense of community and help restructure her belief system.

An affinity for horses manifests early, beginning with Breyer models and transforming eventually into a devotion to the Icelandic horse breed, which becomes an important part of her education and her life.

She finds sexual partners but not love, and one destructive relationship with a drug addict helps her to understand how easily codependency takes hold and how difficult it is to muster the courage and confidence to break free. Yet she never gives up on love, always believing that there are men out there who will look deeper than her face and discover other attractive qualities.

She continues with cosmetic procedures in an effort to make her face look more symmetrical, yet a failed surgery that nearly costs her life causes her to re-examine the value and necessity of these. She concludes that medical science can’t mask her paralysis and decides to put an end to the painful and imperfect surgeries and to accept her face for what it is.

However, acceptance doesn’t automatically make everything better. She must still endure the intent stares and silent mockery of children, but instead of being hurt and bothered, she learns to redirect their attention and tries to turn their curiosity into an educational experience.

Through intense examination of herself and human nature, Dawn learns to embrace her uniqueness and manages to turn a disability into an asset. And for better or worse, she knows how to make an impression.

Friending the Mirror

Do you love what you see in the mirror every day and just can’t imagine how your reflection can possibly improve? If so, this book isn’t for you. But if you struggle with your relationship with the mirror, you are not alone and this book can help. Do you feel ugly, unhappy and alone? Dawn Shaw can relate. Growing up with half her face nearly paralyzed, she could easily have found herself where Lizzie Velasquez did: labeled as “the ugliest woman on the internet.” Spared that distinction, Dawn nonetheless has experienced bullying, insecurity and rejection. When surgeries failed to significantly improve her damaged face, the mirror became a painful reminder of her difference. Friending the Mirror will help you overcome your fear and self-doubt so you can find your beauty, as both Lizzie and Dawn have been able to do; opting for a productive life full of activity, exploration and opportunity rather than living in isolation and misery. You, too, can enjoy a happier reflection.

Facial Shift

Your face, and your life, has been radically altered. Accident, military injury, medical condition…the result is the same. You are now having to confront the world with a “different” face, and understandably this has wrecked your self-image and undermined your confidence, leaving you with a thousand questions and concerns including:

  • What should I do when people stare at me?
  • What are my medical options?
  • Wouldn’t it be easier if I just stayed home and didn’t go anywhere?
  • And most significantly, How will this physical change affect current and future relationships?
  • Will anyone ever be able to love me?

In Facial Shift, author Dawn Shaw addresses those questions and more. Dawn was born with a rare tumor, the removal of which left her face half-paralyzed. She has lived her entire life, nearly half a century, with a different face, yet has been able to lead a happy and productive life. She doesn’t allow her different face to stop her from interacting with the world, and joins the visible likes of Lizzie Velazquez, whose rare condition which doesn’t allow her to retain body fat once earned her the title of “ugliest woman on the internet,” and severely burned Iraq war veteran turned actor/author/speaker JR Martinez, in overcoming their physical differences and who work instead to influence the world in a positive way. Lizzie became a best-selling author and motivational speaker, starring in her own documentary in 2015. JR acted in All My Children, won Dancing with the Stars in 2011, and penned a best-selling memoir.

While not quite as high-profile, Dawn’s successes include becoming an award-winning video editor, earning international certification as an Icelandic horse trainer, hosting an online webinar series addressing appearance-related issues called Friending the Mirror, and sharing her universal message of resilience and embracing differences with groups of varying ages as a professional motivational speaker. Dawn has also been in a happy marriage for twenty years and counting.

Yes, there will be challenges and emotional pain to endure. However, there can also be triumph, joy and love. This book will help you:

  • Evaluate your own feelings about your change.
  • Understand the reactions of others.
  • Avoid social isolation.
  • Gain confidence that romance is possible.
  • Take control of your life so you can move forward.

Facial Shift is about integrating your life before and after, and is a helpful guide to navigating the world with a facial difference. You can count on it as a source of hope, validation and reassurance, as well as a link to a vibrant community of people who can share experiences and tips for dealing with the common challenges associated with surviving, and thriving in the world with a changed countenance.