Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Image And Blindness: How do Blind people know what to wear?

People often ask me how I create my image when I am totally blind?

I am a girl who loves to go shopping, dye my hair, dress up, and all that so-called visual stuff and I have my own way of doing it.

Regardless of the fact that I am totally blind, I do still have my favourite colours and styles. For example, 2 of my prefered colours are purple and pink and I particularly like to wear long flowing skirts and high-heeled shoes.

One of the commonly asked questions has always been "how do you choose and buy your clothes"?

I have been very fortunate in life to have been blessed with a very close-knit family. Over time, they have often described what people are wearing around me or what people are wearing in theatre productions or on TV etc. These descriptions are what helped me to form a sense of fashion that works for me.

Now, family members and friends are very aware of what I like and it is them who often accompany me when I go shopping.

Thankfully, the majority of the shops that sell clothes have their stock on display and customers can handle and even try on pretty much whatever they wish to.

A few department stores such as Debenhams also provide a service where a sales assistant meets with a customer to create a profile which is used from then on to find and show the customer his or her prefered clothes etc.

While out shopping I often touch the clothes, shoes, handbags, jewellery or other items on display (as well as get an oral description from whoever I am with at the time) to get an image in my mind of how they might look before deciding what to try on or buy.

I have learned over the years that trust is also a very important part of my image because I would not have an image if I didn't trust the people who help to advise me on what to buy or have done to my hair and so on.

The females in my life will often describe to me the kind of hair colour styles that are seen around. For example, the style of this summer is the highlights on the top and solid colour underneath or on the ends of long hair. It was important for me to trust my mother when she said it would suit me and then to trust my long-term hairdresser when she helped to choose my colours and said that they would suit me which they thankfully did.

Although not as much as when I was a teenager, my image is still very important to me because I feel that it helps to shape my personality for me in terms of how I want others to see me. It is very difficult to measure yourself up to other people when you cannot see what they are doing with their images and I do often worry about how I fit into society in relation to fashion. I am a fairly confident person, but I would be lying if I said that comments from others around me don't help to reassure me of my fashion status. Basically, it helps to know what people who matter to me think of my image because I am not able to look in a mirror every morning to judge it for myself.

There are still aspects of fashion that I am personally unable to fit into. Although time has put me off the desire to wear make up, it is still a shame that I am unable to apply it independently on the odd occasion here and there. At such times, I usually have to rely on others to apply it for me and again trust them that I look okay. I have previously made attempts to find out if there are people out there who can assist in teaching blind people how to use make up, but have had no luck and have given up since.

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