Renowned Photographer Captures the 'Beauty in Every Smile' for Timely Campaign

A third of Brits with clefts have been discriminated against, a quarter bullied

Gallery of photos, all of cleft-affected people, taken by Fanny Beckman

Thursday 5 October 2023: Smile Train UK collaborate with photographer Fanny Beckman to capture a series of unfiltered smiles from twelve cleft-affected Brits, and launch them in a powerful exhibition in London’s South Bank (from 5 to 7 October)

Today, Smile Train UK – the world’s largest cleft charity – releases a series of unfiltered images celebrating the beauty and diversity of all smiles to support their new nationwide campaign, Beauty in Every Smile.

Captured by London-based photographer Fanny Beckman, who is renowned for using art to raise awareness of social injustice and inequalities, the images feature 12 cleft-affected people from across the UK* who have come to love their smiles after facing stigma, mistreatment and/or discrimination as a result of their facial difference.

Launched in time for World Smile Day® (6 October), the images are being showcased on giant, two metre-high panels in a public exhibition on London’s busy South Bank** from 9am Thursday 5 October to 4pm Saturday 7 October.

Nischala Chitradurga (23, London), who was born with a cleft and features in the exhibition, says: “When I was younger, I experienced bullying. At school, children would call me names and make fun of my appearance because of my cleft, which was hurtful and challenging to deal with. And it wasn't just at school; even random strangers would make hurtful comments about the scars on my face from my surgeries.

But over time, and with the support of my loved ones, I began to realise that my smile was a unique part of who I am. I learned to appreciate my smile as a symbol of resilience and strength. It became a source of pride rather than insecurity. So, to all those with a unique smile, I offer this advice: Embrace your uniqueness and wear it like a boss.”

Commenting on the exhibition images, Fanny Beckman says: “Beauty in Every Smile has truly been a dream project. Smile Train UK’s work is very much in line with my ethos and what I want to achieve with my photography: to raise awareness of stories that historically have been untold. Art is a powerful tool to use to start conversations, and I’ve been fortunate to meet many inspiring people during the photoshoots. I am grateful to all the models for sharing their experiences, and for removing the stigma around being born with a cleft."

YThe full set of images captured by Fanny are available for download here.

Smile Train UK also worked with video production agency Red Kite Films to create an emotive two-minute video that tells the stories of four cleft-affected individuals - Dr Kiran Rahim (37), Christian Hadjipateras (39), Heidi Salt (20), and Elouan Biwole (14) – who are all featured in the exhibition.

The video can be downloaded here.

A cleft is a facial difference that occurs when a baby’s lip and/or mouth do not fuse together during pregnancy. One in 700 people are born with a cleft in the UK each year – and every three minutes a baby is born with a cleft globally.

Sadly, research recently carried out by Smile Train UK – in partnership with Censuswide*** – found that more than a third (34%) of people living with facial differences in the UK (including clefts) have been discriminated against or have heard negative comments said about them. Three in ten (30%) have also been bullied. As a result, more than a quarter have felt self-conscious (29%), unhappy (28%), embarrassed (28%), unwanted (26%) – and even depressed (27%).

And these feelings of self-consciousness don’t just impact people with a facial difference. According to Smile Train UK’s survey, more than half (53%) of the wider public are yet to fully love their smile. And, sadly, only 18% of the nation think their smile is beautiful.

Interestingly, approximately a quarter (24%) of the public surveyed said they would love their smile more if they were told it was beautiful. And for one in ten, a greater understanding of differences and uniqueness within society would have a positive impact on the way they view their smile, too.

Smile Train launched the Beauty in Every Smile campaign in response to these findings to inspire more ‘smile inclusivity’ in the UK and to encourage people to see the beauty in their own unique smiles.

Ian Vallance, Director at Smile Train UK, says, "Our recent research has found that stigma and mistreatment is impacting the happiness and self-confidence of those in the UK with facial differences, including clefts..

"At Smile Train we believe every smile is beautiful. And that by learning more about differences, celebrating diversity in society, and welcoming a more inclusive mindset, we can help to break down these outdated stigmas.

"With support from the wonderfully talented Fanny Beckman and our amazing cleft community, we hope that our new campaign – Beauty in Every Smile – will inspire more smile inclusivity and self-acceptance, creating lots of new smiles in the process."

In the UK, a baby born with a cleft will receive treatment immediately and for free on the NHS. However, in many other countries, families often don’t have the financial resources for treatment, leaving their children vulnerable to difficulties with eating, breathing, speaking, hearing, making friends, staying in school, and ultimately thriving.

Smile Train UK is championing smile inclusivity by encouraging more people to see the beauty in the smiles of others – as well as their own. Because there’s Beauty in Every Smile.


For more information, please contact or Emily Oliver,

Notes to Editors

Find all campaign assets via this link:

*About the exhibition participants

In the order they feature above, from left to right:

  • Nishchala Chitradurga, 23, London
  • Dylan, 18 months, Littlehampton, West Sussex
  • Christian Hadjipateras, 39, Switzerland (born and raised in London)
  • Isobel Cameron, 26, Harrogate, North Yorkshire
  • Elouan Biwole, 14, Poole, Dorset
  • Heidi Salt, 20, Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire
  • Dr Kiran Rahim, 37, London
  • Stacey, 41, and Dylan, 18 months, Littlehampton, West Sussex
  • Adam and Olivia Whitbread, 30, Deal, Kent
  • Alii Robinson, 32, Hampshire
  • Matilda Lansdown, 32, London (born and raised in Edinburgh)

**About the Exhibition

Smile Train UK’s Beauty in in Every Smile exhibition can be found at: Riverside Slice, Bernie Spain Gardens, Riverside Walkway (by Oxo Tower Wharf), South Bank, London, SE1 9PP.

It will be officially open to the public from 9am Thursday 5 October to 4pm Saturday 7 October.

***About the survey data:

Survey of 2000 Nationally Representative General Consumers (16+) in the UK undertaken by Censuswide in between 08.09.2023 - 12.09.2023, and supplemented by data from Smile Train UK.

About Smile Train:

  • Smile Train is the largest cleft-focused charity, empowering local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally.
  • We advance a sustainable solution and scalable global health model for cleft treatment, drastically improving children’s lives, including their ability to eat, breathe, speak, and ultimately thrive.
  • To learn more about how Smile Train's sustainable approach means donations have both an immediate and long-term impact, please visit our website.