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.
LittleGiantFudge.com and Palmer Bus Service make this column possible.
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 HeadlinesFederal Subpoena Served to Placer County Sheriff's OfficeThe Placer County Sheriff's Office has received several inquiries about employee internal investigations and a federal subpoena.
Bill to Help Disabled Veterans Heads to GovernorA proposal sponsored by George Runner to protect California's disabled veterans cleared the Assembly this week with unanimous, bipartisan support, and now awaits action by Governor Jerry Brown.
Honda Offers Appealing New Accord Plug-in HybridHonda welcomed a new addition to its lineup for 2014: say hello to the Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid. The new addition makes Honda one of the few automakers to offer
3 Arrested in Baby Formula HeistPlacer County sheriff's deputies arrested three Bay Area burglary suspects and are seeking a fourth after the group stole a large amount of baby formula from the north Auburn Bel Air store
Sample the Sierra Festival at South Lake TahoeFoodies and wine lovers alike will gather in South Lake Tahoe this Labor Day weekend as Sample the Sierra celebrates its 5th anniversary on Sunday, August 31st
Sierra College Supports Former Foster YouthRocklin, CA- - As the school year begins, Sierra College is taking an extra step to ensure that one group of students gets off to a good start.
Roseville Chamber Events September 2014Roseville, CA -- The Roseville Chamber of Commerce featured events for the month of September 2014.
American River Music Festival in SeptemberDip your toes in the river while grooving to world renowned vintage rock, blues, new and old grass, sweet jam and the finest of folk at the 8th Annual American River Music Festival in California's scenic Gold Country
Local Man Earns Inclusion in National Pottery ExhibitionsRocklin, CA-- Sierra College congratulates local sculptor and staffer, Anthony Maki Gill for earning inclusion in not just one, but two national exhibitions this summer
Placer Fish and Game Commission Solicit Grant ProposalsThe Placer County Fish and Game Commission is soliciting grant proposals from non-profit organizations, schools, other organizations and individuals
$7 Billion Water Bond Supported by Sacramento SupervisorsDrought Watch: AB 1471, the legislation placing the water bond on the ballot, asks voters to approve $7.12 billion for projects which will build new water storage facilities, invests in safe drinking water
Gas Prices Under $3 Gallon Coming Soon?Average retail gasoline prices in Sacramento have fallen 3.4 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.79/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey