A social stigma is a sign of disapproval of a particular person. Human society creates a sense of shame in the minds of the people it signals out. This represents one of the cruelest sides of humanity.
The person or group affected is inevitably from a minority category. Only the brave few fight back. The rest of us try to remain as unobtrusive as possible when in the presence of the people we perceive as judging us unfairly. In this post we apply this theory in the context of hearing aid stigma.
How Hearing Aid Stigma is a Two-Way Street
If we were picked on when we were kids – and who wasn’t at some time in their lives – we learned the best way out was to ignore it so the bully didn’t get what they wanted, which is a reaction to their enticement.
We think it’s likely hard-of-hearing kids get picked on at school with taunts like ‘those hearing aids look bad like you’re a nerd’ or something similar. This can so easily create a sense of shame in the mind of a child and that’s a horrible thing to do.
Some Adults We Know Still Think Hearing Aids Look Bad
One of our team did a bit of psychology at college and we asked them how this works. Most of us wanted to be like the prettiest girl or the handsomest boy at school, they explained. We’d search out any ‘defects’ in the mirror and were ashamed when we inevitably discovered one.
Hearing aid stigma works the same way too, even if we are ‘mature adults’ which we never seem to reach. Our social programming tells us anything that makes us different from our ideal role model is wrong, but the point is we do it to ourselves.
We Apply the Stigma of Hearing Aids to Ourselves!
That’s right! Folks with an acceptable level of hearing don’t go around looking for hearing aid users so they can single them out and embarrass them. It’s only when we age and our hearing diminishes that we become interested in them.
If we are considering hearing aids for ourselves or a friend, we may start to notice them. But not because we think hearing aids look bad. If anything we are surprised they are so small and unobtrusive.
I Think My Friend Has This Hearing Aid Stigma
The stigma of hearing aids can play out in various ways. It’s important to understand where your friend is coming from, and not try to ‘force’ your own opinions.
Are naturally vain people always fussing over their looks?
Try explaining that they won’t even notice their hearing aids in the mirror unless they deliberately focus on them. When did they last notice a person wearing hearing aids? How often does this happen?
However, we don’t suggest you try explaining how hearing aid stigma works. Instead, if they remember noticing hearings aids on people ask them, ‘Did those hearing aids look bad, or did they quickly fade into the background of their appearance?” And maybe the stigma is just built only because someone can’t hear great, not even because of their hearing aids. Many, like the Eargo neo are barely noticeable to begin with, especially on women or men with long and shaggy hair.
Are they hesitating over hearing aids ‘because of what other people think’?
Try explaining how common hearing loss in America, with hardly anyone not affected in some way. According to National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Some 15% of American adults report some trouble with hearing. That’s 35 million of our family, friends and peers.
- Some 18% of us have speech-frequency hearing loss in both ears from loud noise.
- Age is a powerful indicator. The greatest amount of hearing loss in the 60 to 69 age group.
It follows most Americans have personal experience of deaf people they know and respect. If they think about hearing aids they are most likely to regard them as a good idea.
Are they fussing over hearing aids costing too much?
That’s a reasonable concern, judging by the ridiculously high prices in the United States hearing aid industry. There’s only one explanation why people pay more for them in the U.S. than many other developed economies.
Tell your friend Blue Angels sells discreet hearing aids that don’t stand out like some others do. But what does stand out is the price. Would you believe they could still purchase decent behind-the-ear aids for under $200 a pair including shipping? It’s true you, TENS of THOUSANDS of Americans do so every year.
Tell your friend the Blue Angels offer (while stocks last) includes a money-back guarantee (conditions apply) if they don’t like the product when it arrives. However, it’s more likely they will take to them like a duck to water after someone says ‘Gosh what nice hearing aids you have’.
More good news…