While hearing loss can be a challenging condition to manage, today we have a lot of great technology that can help. However, as an audiologist, I've seen numerous patients who were reluctant to discuss the possibility of using hearing aids. Stigma is one factor that can prevent people from trying hearing aids. However, in recent times, perceptions are changing. More and more people are embracing the idea of wearing hearing aids. Maybe you've noticed a show on TV with someone wearing a hearing aid or cochlear implant - I certainly have. In this article, we will explore some of the most recent sightings of hearing aids on TV, in media, and on celebrities' ears.
Background on Hearing Aid Stigma
For years, hearing aids were associated with aging and regarded as something that people would rather hide than show off. Some patients remember their grandfather's hearing aid that squealed or looked unappealing. Stigma surrounding hearing loss and hearing aids was driven mostly by lack of understanding, exposure, and negative beliefs. Many people with hearing loss would often be hesitant to use hearing aids as they did not want to be labeled as ‘old’ or felt self-conscious.
Fortunately, this perception is slowly but surely changing. Recently, at an ASHA conference one researcher presented the results of a study that examined how normal-hearing people view those with hearing loss. The results showed little to no negative perception of individuals wearing hearing aids. Potentially, the person wearing the devices perceives more stigma than there actually is today. Could this be progress?
Recent TV Hearing Aid Sightings
Lately, we've seen a surge of TV shows showcasing characters who wear hearing aids, thus normalizing the concept for their audiences. Let's get to some of the best ones.
The Golden Bachelor: A Mainstream Media Representation
One of the most recent and notable examples of hearing aids being featured on television is in the popular show "The Golden Bachelor." The show spotlights Gerry Turner, a 72-year old bachelor who happens to wear hearing aids. Far from being a source of discomfort, Gerry's hearing aids are worn with confidence and ease. What’s even more encouraging is that a few of the lady contestants vying for his affection also sport hearing aids and even bond over their shared hearing aid experience.
In these instances, the hearing aids are not hidden or regarded as anything other than just another part of the individual. This representation of people comfortably wearing their hearing aids in a mainstream TV show not only challenges the stigma surrounding the devices but also helps to normalize them. With increasing visibility like this, hearing aids are becoming more "mainstream", which is a positive step forward in changing public perceptions.
Hearing Devices on Cooking Shows: A Recipe for Breaking Stigmas
There's also been an increasing visibility of hearing aids and cochlear implants on culinary programs. On the most recent season of "The Great British Bake Off" on Netflix, one contestant noticeably wore a cochlear implant. Not only that, they also used an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter to communicate. This respectful and inclusive environment introduced millions of viewers around the globe to the day-to-day reality of individuals with hearing loss.
Another example can be seen on "Five Star Chef," a highly-rated cooking show, which featured a "deaf chef" contestant with BTE hearing aids. This contestant demonstrated that hearing loss does not limit one's abilities to excel in a demanding and competitive environment like a professional kitchen. Such portrayals are crucial in challenging existing misconceptions and stigmas associated with hearing loss and the use of hearing aids. They also open up meaningful conversations about inclusivity and the broad spectrum of human experiences.
Recent Celebrity Hearing Aid Sightings
Even in the star-studded world of celebrities, hearing aids have made their appearance. Notable personalities are increasingly stepping forward to share their experiences with hearing loss and hearing aids.
These celebrity endorsements of hearing aids are crucial in reducing the misconception and stigma associated with them. They serve as a reminder that hearing aids are not just for the elderly, but also for anyone who needs them, including our favorite stars.
Celebrity Sightings at the Golden Globes: Harrison Ford and Bruce Springsteen
While TV shows have done a great job normalizing hearing aids, we cannot overlook the influence of celebrities in shifting public perception. The Golden Globes, an annual event graced by the A-listers of the entertainment world, also featured a few hearing aids. The seasoned veterans of the industry, Harrison Ford and Bruce Springsteen, were caught on camera donning hearing aids.
Ford, known for his iconic roles in "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones", and Springsteen, a legendary musician, both displayed their hearing aids, reassuring millions of fans that there's no shame in addressing hearing loss. Their actions underscored the importance of taking charge of one's hearing health to ensure nothing goes amiss. These moments served as powerful reminders that hearing aids don’t diminish an individual’s abilities or talents but rather enhance their quality of life. This high-profile endorsement, albeit unintentional, gives hope for a future where hearing aids are as normalized as wearing glasses.
In conclusion, the increased visibility of hearing aids in mainstream media and among influential figures is a promising step towards breaking down the stigma associated with these devices. As we've observed in television shows and celebrity appearances, hearing aids are progressively being portrayed as a normal and acceptable part of life rather than a cause for embarrassment. This shift in perception is a significant stride towards a more inclusive society where individuals need not fear judgment for managing their hearing health. Looking to the future, we're excited to witness this trend continue, with further examples of hearing aid visibility and acceptance in our media and daily lives. After all, hearing health matters and everyone deserves to hear clearly and live confidently.