Coulrophobia – the irrational fear of clowns.
It’s a documented phobia. Some people suffer from an intense fear of clowns. An irrational fear.
While I dislike clowns immensely and, truth be told, I would be more than a little freaked out if I had to be in close physical proximity to one, my fear is not irrational. I don’t remember any point in my life when I made a shift from liking clowns to disliking them. I’ve never liked them, and I’m not alone. According to an article in the Digital Journal,
Researchers at the University of Sheffield found that clowns are universally disliked by children when they began examining how to improve the decor of a local children’s hospital.
The study was reported in the Nursing Standard magazine and displayed a poll of 250 children between the ages of four and sixteen.
All 250 children were patients of the hospital’s children’s ward. The poll concluded that all 250 patients disliked clowns, even the older children.
“As adults we make assumptions about what works for children,” said Penny Curtis, a senior lecturer in research at the university.
…Most analysts and psychologists believe that children are scared of clowns because of their exaggerated face paintings.
It’s not the giant feet or the red hair or the ridiculous outfits or the propensity to emerge from tiny little cars.
It’s the painted face of the clown that disturbs me.
It’s the mask which proclaims one emotion which may or may not hide something different underneath.
In the above image in particular, notice how the exaggerated painted-on smile is at odds with the expression on the rest of his face. From a distance, he would look happy. But one only has to look at his eyes to know there’s no smile there.
I think most of us hide behind metaphorical masks to some extent. When asked “How are you?”, we say we’re fine. Even if we’re not. And I’m not saying that kind of dishonesty is okay. But that’s different. That kind of dishonesty has more to do with expediency of conversation and fear of the over-share.
But clowns? Specifically white-faced clowns or grotesque white faced clowns? (that name should tell you something)
The makeup is an intentional act of deception. What are they hiding behind the painted on expression? It is this intentional act that unnerves me. Maybe I’m over thinking this.
But I’m in good company:
(Special thanks to AuthorCulture, which is where I first saw this video.)