Kate Spade, Tommy Hilfiger, and…ADHD?

Posted on: October 19, 2011

   As I approached the checkout line at the supermarket, I happened to glance at this month’s issue of “Vogue.”  The front cover of the October 2011 magazine displayed  the usual photograph of a beautiful model in an elegant dress, accompanied by headlines about beauty, fashion, and celebrities.  Had it not been for the caption on the upper right hand corner of the magazine cover, I would have simply gotten in line to pay for my groceries and not given “Vogue” a second look or thought.
    The caption read, “DISTRACTED? FORGETFUL? ANXIOUS?” and then beneath it in smaller letters, “ADULT ADHD OR NORMAL LIFE?”
   While I was somewhat disappointed in the editors’ choice of words suggesting that people with ADHD are not normal (after all, ADHD is my normal life) I was pleasantly surprised that a major fashion magazine would run a story on a topic that was once restricted to periodicals such as “Parents Magazine” and “Psychology Today.” Intrigued, I added the issue of “Vogue” to my cart.
   The article was accompanied by a large photograph of a woman wearing a sparkly, glitter-covered dress, several layers of eye makeup, and a hairstyle that made it look like a fluffy yellow puppy was sitting on her head.  The woman was staring at a TV in the corner of the page and holding a remote control;  unaware that the faucet on her kitchen sink was on full blast, and water was spilling all over her floor and splashing her appliances.
   When I first saw the photo, I laughed. People with ADHD aren’t really that clueless! We’re not so inattentive that we’d be completely oblivious to our entire kitchen being filled with water!
   I looked at the photo again, and considered that perhaps it was intended not to be taken literally but metaphorically- like so many things in this world are. The water overflowing in the sink is a very appropriate metaphor for all the time rushing by without me noticing, all the appointments that I miss, all the obligations that I need to do piling up behind me like water rising in a flood; while meanwhile, my attention is completely focused elsewhere, just like the woman in the picture watching TV (though I can honestly say that I’ve never had a hairstyle that resembled a small furry dog). 
   I turned the page and read the article.  It was written by Andrea Cooper, a free-lance journalist and essayist whose work has appeared in a number of prominent publications.  After her daughter was diagnosed with ADHD,  Cooper noticed that she, too, exhibited many of the behaviors listed as ADHD symptoms. Cooper wondered if she had ADHD as well, and made an appointment with a psychotherapist to be evaluated.
   Although the results of Cooper’s evaluation revealed that she did not have ADHD, she wrote a highly informative and accurate article about ADHD. I learned that adult women with ADHD are less likely to get diagnosed than men or children.  However, the number of U.S. women aged 20-44 on ADHD medications is significantly higher than it has ever been before.  Cooper attributes this increase to people having more knowledge of ADHD than ever before. 
   Another reason for the increase, although Cooper did not mention it in her article, is that many of the women in this age group were diagnosed with ADHD in their childhood.  People once thought that children outgrew ADHD, but today we know that it continues into adulthood.
   As yet another generation of children with ADHD enter into adulthood,  it is increasingly more important that we are educated about this disorder and how it affects us.  This is why I am pleased to find articles about ADHD in unlikely places such as fashion magazines, alongside photo spreads of the latest styles in jewerly and ads for Calvin Klein shoes.


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