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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.


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 Headlines

WJU School Year Begins Amidst Continued GrowthROCKLIN, Calif. - William Jessup University began its 2016-17 academic year August 22 with the largest enrollment in the university's 77-year history.

Molly Ringwald at Rocklin's Quarry Park September 17thRocklin, Calif. - Golden Globe nominated actress and jazz musician Molly Ringwald descends into Rocklin's Quarry Park Amphitheater on Saturday, September 17

Roseville to Host Barbara Boxer FarewellRoseville, CA - The Placer County Democratic Party in partnership with the Nevada County Democratic Party and El Dorado County Democratic Party will be hosting a Fond Farewell

Roseville Skatetown to Host International Curling BonspielRoseville, CA - The Crush Bonspiel, which began in 2006, is back this Labor Day Weekend at Roseville's Skatetown Ice Arena after taking a one year hiatus.

County renews $10 Million Emergency Services ContractThe county board of supervisors OK'd a $10.6 million contract for fiscal year 2016-17. The contract will provide fire and emergency service for about 52,000 residents.

Roseville Flash Crime Report (8.24.16)The Roseville Police Department's latest activity and crime log digest update covering the period of August 12-21, 2016.

Sierra College Patrons Invite Public to MeetingRocklin, CA-- The Sierra College Patrons, a support group of the Sierra College Foundation, invites the public and those interested in becoming members of the organization

California Fires Update Summary (8.24.16)Over 10,000 firefighters are battling 8 large wildfires in California. Two new large fires were reported yesterday in Tulare and Alpine counties on National Forest land.

Napa's Uptown Theatre: On LocationNapa, CA- Band of Horses trekked into Napa's Uptown Theatre last night for a stop along their "Why Are You Ok Tour".

California Fires Update Summary (8.23.16)Last week firefighters across California battled nearly 250 new wildfires containing most to a small acreage. Since the beginning of the year there have been over 4,900 wildfires that have burned over 417,000 acres.

Nevada City Hosts Festive Celebration September 10-11NEVADA CITY, Calif. - The 50th Annual Nevada City Constitution Day Parade tops a full weekend of family fun Sept. 10-11 in this colorful Gold Rush town.

Humboldt Pilot Program to Track and Trace CannabisWith the state of California on the verge of approving the recreational use of marijuana in November, at least one company is ahead of the curve


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