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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 Headlines

Roseville Financial Advisor Sentenced for Ripping Off ClientsMichelle Lee Kern, 36, who worked as a licensed financial advisor at Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. in Roseville has been sentenced to 46 months in prison.

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Hidden Falls Regional Park Receives GrantPlacer County's "gem of the foothills," Hidden Falls Regional Park, is the recipient of a grant that will fund innovative projects protecting long-term ecological values and economic viability

Roseville Developer Begins Senior Community in Elk GroveUSA Properties Fund will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for Arbor Creek Senior Apartments at 10:30 a.m., Aug. 4, at the project site located at Elk Grove-Florin and Calvine roads

Rep. Tom McClintock Announces August Town Hall MeetingsRoseville, CA -- U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock (CA-04) has announced a series of town hall meetings in August.

Lincoln Man Serving Aboard the Navy's USS SomersetPetty Officer 1st Class Brian West, an aviation boatswain's mate from Lincoln, Calif. and 2003 graduate of Lincoln High School, is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard USS Somerset

California Would Create More Jobs Without Prop 30In his recent piece for The Sacramento Bee, "State's job growth defies predictions after tax increases," David Cay Johnston argues that California's recent job creation numbers prove

Sacramento County Opposes Bay Delta Conservation PlanThis week the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors formally submitted comments challenging the findings of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) state environmental

Roseville to Host Senior Softball Western National ChampionshipsRoseville will play host this August to the Senior Softball Western National Championships

Roseville Crime Report Digest Update (7.29.14)Roseville, CA - The Roseville Police Department weekly crime report digest update for July 29, 2014.

Different Standards From Mortgage LendersJulie Jalone of MagnumOne Realty in Roseville, reports on a recent Fannie Mae survey which indicates there may be a growing difference in credit standards between small and large lenders. Which do you think has the tighter credit standards? Check out Julie's article and find out.

PCWA Comments on Bay Delta Conservation PlanDrought Watch: PCWA expresses concern about future water supply reliability for Placer County and claims EIR fails to consider key issues.


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