Olivia Whitbread

30, Kent

Olivia Whitbread smiling with her brother Adam
“Everybody is different and that’s what makes each person special — if everybody looked the same, it would be boring! Finding the beauty in yourself and other people is the best feeling a person can feel.”

Olivia missed a lot of school for cleft treatments. It made her feel like she was always one step behind her peers — whose constant bullying and exclusion made her feel even further behind as a human being.

“I hated my appearance growing up because of them and I hated the fact I had a cleft,” she says. “I was very self-conscious of my appearance and I wore braces for a long period of my teens. I was never satisfied with how I would look to another person.”

Her self-image took a radical turn when she was 18 and at last found friends who saw her as she truly was: a girl who simply wanted to enjoy herself. It is now her life’s work to be that friend to others who have been made to feel less than because of the way they look.

She is no less dedicated to proving that there is nothing people with clefts can’t do. In June, Olivia and her brother Adam, whose brother-in-law also has a cleft, conquered the Three Peaks Challenge — hiking up Snowdon, Scafell Pike, and Ben Nevis over a single, exhausting day — to raise funds for Smile Train UK.


Her advice for others with unique smiles: “Learn to love yourself, because when you feel like your best self, people will experience the best version of you. Regardless of what you and other people may think, you are beautiful.”