The reason why we really shouldn't be laughing at this viral mugshot.

In the space of two weeks, Charles Dion McDowell’s mugshot has gone viral twice.

And it was all because of his neck.

On November 14, the 31-year-old appeared on the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page with reports that he had been arrested for fleeing from police, and for the possession and intent to sell meth and cocaine, and the possession of marijuana and drug equipment.

But it was his disproportionately thick neck which garnered countless jokes at his expense.


However, a Kansas-based doctor, Dr Milton Wolf, has shared another perspective on Twitter. Instead of mocking the man’s neck, he explained McDowell’s appearance was likely the result of a medical condition.

“It’s called pterygium colli deformity. Or webbed neck,” he wrote.

“It’s associated with various medical disorders, most commonly Turner Syndrome.”

“So I guess the MSM [mainstream media] is cool with body shaming, so long as it’s the result of a medical condition?”

While Turner’s Syndrome is actually a genetic, chromosomal disorder which only affects females, having a webbed neck could also be a symptom of Noonan syndrome.

The disorder can result in the patient having unusual facial characteristics, short stature, heart defects present at birth, bleeding problems, developmental delays, and malformations of the bones of the rib cage.

According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, the syndrome affects “about 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 2,500 people,” and is either caused by an altered gene when the baby is in utero, or passed on by an affected parent.

Webbed neck could also be a symptom of Diamond-Blackfan anemia, which is when a person’s bone marrow is unable to make enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues.

Although it hasn’t been confirmed whether McDowell does indeed suffer from these conditions, it’s a reminder that when we see an image online, devoid of context, our snap judgements can be inherently discriminatory.

Whether it’s about how someone looks, or a ‘bizarre’ behaviour, it’s impossible to know the full story.

And laughing without thinking could be hurting people in ways you can’t imagine.

How do you feel about the photo now that you know about the potential condition behind it? Tell us in a comment below.

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