Loud statement jewelry isn’t everyone’s thing, but an actual fear of necklaces, earrings, and the like? C’mon man—you’ve got to be kidding, right? Turns out the struggle is real, with a small group of people experiencing a true phobia known as kosmemophobia.
The most noticeable victim is NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt Jr., who talked to ESPN about the issue while discussing his recent engagement.
“Jewelry grosses me out; it just freaks me out. I don’t really like being around it,” he explained. “Everyone thought I was making it up as some excuse not to get married, [but] it just kind of grosses me out, always has. It’s one of those things. Some people it’s snakes or spiders or whatever, but for me it’s jewelry.”
Crazy, right? He said he told his now-fiancee that she could wear her wedding ring every day once they got married but that fans will notice she doesn’t wear much jewelry otherwise (as “a favor” to him).
The condition isn’t very widespread—there’s not a lot of official scientific work published on it, but there is a Facebook page for fellow phobes. The page has collected a little over 200 likes, and a perusal of comments shows people from all over expressing gratitude at having found others like them. Last month, a commenter named Tammy wrote “I have always had this phobia and only just recently looked it up and found out that I am not the only one!” (the moderator responded to say that most other group members also had similar experiences, of feeling alone and getting tired of being on the receiving end of confusion or skepticism).
A thoughtful LiveJournal entry from someone who experiences jewelry-fear explains that certain pieces rank differently in the scale of repulsion (for the writer, earrings are a “minor annoyance” and necklaces are the worst).
I can’t stand to look at you, much less touch you, and I will be uncomfortable being anywhere near you. I will avoid you, even in dialogue, until you go away. Even feeling your breath would likely urge me to go wash my face. Roughly half the time I visit a bathroom, which would be frequently enough without this, is for the purpose to simply wash myself, and that is often due to a kosmemophobic reaction.
If you’re getting shades of OCD, it could be because some think the two are linked. A post on some of the world’s most famous people with OCD included Nikola Tesla, the inventor who inspired the naming of Elon Musk’s car company. Tesla was said to have a fear of round objects, particularly women’s jewelry, and avoided shaking hands upon introductions. Interesting, huh?
Another rare phobia? An intense fear of cheese.
Now get to know Iris Apfel, a woman certainly does not have a fear of jewelry:
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