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 HeadlinesCalifornia Limits Full Contact Football for StudentsGovernor Jerry Brown signed into law AB2127 which limits, but does not eliminate full contact football practices for middle and high school students.
Beware of Deceptive Home Improvement OffersThe California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is urging consumers to be aware of home improvement offers by individuals who use unethical business practices to gain entry into their homes
Continuous Improvement Network: August 6th & 20thSierra College CACT provides Value Stream Mapping Training in Sacramento on August 6 & 20 for the Continuous Improvement Network
Alternative Transportation Programs in Placer CountyPlacer County Transportation Planning Agency (PCTPA) is your resource for information about alternative transportation services in Placer County.
Auburn Woman Attacked Inside HomePlacer County sheriff's detectives are looking for a man who attacked a woman at her north Auburn home early this morning.
Western Nationals Softball Tournament in Roseville and LincolnASA Softball is bringing the Western Nationals for the Girls B 10U & 12U divisions to the Placer Valley Area. The event is six days long, taking place from July 28-August 3.
Tahoe Public Projects Garner AttentionTahoe Transportation District has been recognized nationally and by the state of Nevada for its positive impacts, collaborative initiatives, environmental enhancement, and service to the community's
Rocklin National Night Out Events August 5thEach community member is invited to join their neighborhood watch group and the Rocklin Police Department for National Night Out on Tuesday, August 5, 2014.
Recovery Plan for California Salmon and SteelheadNOAA Fisheries and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) jointly released two plans to restore populations of salmon and steelhead in California's Central Valley
Rocklin Crime Report Digest Update (7.22.14)The Rocklin Police Department's crime report digest update for the period of July 15, 2014 - July 21, 2014.
Noodles & Company Opening Roseville and Rocklin LocationsNoodles & Company is opening two new locations in Roseville and Rocklin over the next two weeks.
Raley's Wins Telly AwardsRaley's has been awarded an astounding total of 24 Telly Awards in Commercial and Online Video categories