Anxiety Over Matching the American Ideal
Not long ago, I had an interesting telephone conversation with a reader in another state concerning what he thought was a physical abnormality. This may seem strange to call such a conversation "interesting," but I'm a licensed professional counselor and disability columnist, so these types of conversations often find me.
The gentleman had a so-called abnormality involving his feet and was worrying others eventually would see it even though, to this columnist, nothing about his feet seemed abnormal. He explained there wasn't hardly any space between his big and second toes on his feet, i.e., the two digits were nearly fused with web-like flesh. Of course, his condition didn't meet the threshold of being a disability because it didn't significantly affect him in at least one major life function, such as driving, walking or reading. He was concerned only about his appearance.
Normal physical differences like these concern many Americans. For instance, I've seen many people become emotionally worked up over how others will judge or perceive their hair color, or their height, weight, hair style, or amount of body muscle. Some of us get worked up more than others.
Psychologically speaking, a mental health diagnosis exists for people who have an excessive preoccupation with or are significantly impaired or distressed by imagined or slight physical defects. (The latter could include acne, thinning hair or wrinkles.) It's called body dysmorphic disorder.
It shouldn't surprise anyone that some Americans become consumed by how others perceive their appearance because, for decades, we've all been bombarded by millions of television, radio, newspaper, and Internet ads aggressively instructing us in how to smell, look, feel, and interact.
Likewise, it shouldn't surprise anyone when a person with a disability also becomes concerned about his appearance, especially considering his concern usually isn't over relatively minor or imaginary issues, but sometimes over a disability that could be drawing unwanted attention.
Like everyone else, people with disabilities over the years have absorbed the same TV and radio commercials that promote some manufacturer's skewed ideal. They have seen the same Barbie dolls.
As a result, a woman with a disability, while in public, may excessively worry over how others perceive the way she talks, walks, reads, eats or does other activities. It's one more thing she may feel a need to worry over when out, along with, possibly, accessibility issues and any common physical concerns such as hair color, height, and wrinkles.
Sponsored by Blue Valley Sod.
Daniel J. Vance is a licensed professional counselor and national certified counselor from Vernon Center, Minn. His weekly newspaper column Disabilities has been published in more than 260 newspapers.
Daniel J. Vance may be reached at www.danieljvance.com
Placer County News HeadlinesOne-Armed Softball Phenom: Part 2Recently, you may have read the first of two columns featuring 17-year-old Katelyn Pavey, a one-armed, fastpitch softball phenom
Surplus Water: Placer County Water Agency Plans SaleThe Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) Board of Directors has approved a resolution that allows for the transfer and sale of up to 20,000 acre-feet of surplus water
Roseville Flash Crime Report (7.23.16)Roseville, CA- Weekly crime report digest update for Roseville, covering the period of July 14- 22, 2016.
Kings Beach Project Wins National AwardKings Beach, CA - A cornerstone project that is transforming the North Lake Tahoe community of Kings Beach's downtown has been given a prestigious national award
Roseville Hospital gets Suessical VisitRoseville, CA- It isn't every day that storybook characters come alive at Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center.
Nevada City Shines Best at Night Nevada City, CA- Nevada City's charm shines more brightly at night. At least that was the takeaway following a midweek date night with my wife.
Rubio's Opens New Restaurant in Roseville August 4thRoseville, CA - Rubio's Restaurants, Inc., the popular fast casual chain known for uniquely delicious coastal cuisine and popularizing the fish taco, has announced the opening of a new location in Roseville
Roseville and Lincoln to Host Girls Fastpitch Western National ChampionshipRoseville, CA - The ASA/USA 14u Class A Girls Fastpitch Western National Championship in Roseville and Lincoln July 25- 31.
Roseville Residents Motoring for Less this SummerRoseville, CA- Roseville residents are motoring for less this summer as gas prices continue to push lower.
Updates on Rocklin HomicideRocklin, CA- The injuries of the victim were consistent with a blunt force trauma-type injury although information about the weapon used will not be released.
Mummy Man Robs Rocklin BankRocklin, CA- On Wednesday, 07/20/2016, at approximately 4:00pm, Rocklin Police responded to a robbery call at the US Bank located inside the Safeway Supermarket
Gunshots in Roseville Lead to Manhunt and Highway ClosuresRoseville, CA- Despite a large manhunt in Roseville following early morning gunshots, it appears the two male suspects have eluded police at this time.