From Givenchy’s ornate oversized septumrings to Rodarte’s faux brow piercings, the runway has been home to plenty of dangerously over-the-top jewelry looks. But visceral reactions to these high-fashion creations aside, being scared of jewelry is a thing in real life, too. In fact, this phobia even has a medical name — kosmemophobia — and affects a small but vocal group of sufferers. The NASCAR pro Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of the most famous of the bunch, and he recently admitted his fear to ESPN. “Jewelry grosses me out; it just freaks me out. I don’t really like being around it,” he said. “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.” Now Earnhardt Jr. said that his fiancée wears her engagement ring, but keeps other jewelry to a minimum “as a favor” to him.
The condition is not scientifically recognized, which helps explain why sufferers often feel like they’re dealing with this issue alone. The “Jewelry Phobia” Facebook group has over 200 likes, and the creator states in its description that the phobia not only affects daily life, but “takes a great toll on relationships.”
Specific types of jewelry can affect sufferers differently. As a Livejournal entry from 2004 noted, “Earrings tend to be just a minor annoyance, but rings are a definite turn-off, bracelets make me queasy, anklets make me nearly nauseous, and necklaces…ugh, I scratch my neck just thinking about them, much less looking at them. Necklaces are by far the worst.” Those with the phobia often have the need to wash themselves after encountering jewelry. “I often fail to repress the desire to wash [it] even after just scratching my never-had-a-necklace-on-it neck after even just envisioning a necklace,” the Livejournal user explained. According to Glamour, this need to cleanse oneself suggests that kosmemophobia might be linked to a more general mental disorder, OCD.
With bikini necklaces, body chains, and solo statement earrings becoming some of the biggest fashion trends of the season, it’s going to be a tough summer to weather for kosmemophobes. Best of luck in “avoiding the shinies” though — you’ll definitely need it.