Not Pretty Any More


Not Pretty Any More

     “I’m sorry, Katy, but I just don’t care about that any more.” Britney’s voice is firm as she answers her friend’s comment about her choice of wardrobe for the evening. The two of them stand on Britney’s porch as she locks her front door before Katy drives them to a concert. Britney’s baseball hat, no makeup, old T-shirt, rumpled jeans, and running shoes make a big contrast with Katy, dressed as usual in the latest cool styles of their age group.

     Katy gets up close into Britney’s face and responds passionately. “You’re gone blind, I know already! Brit, you’ve done a great job bouncing back…You have that white cane that’s about as tall as you…You have one of those Braille and talking PDA’s…You’re back in school with us and all the same groups and things…but, you don’t even try to look pretty any more! You’ve still got your looks, you know!”

     “Yeah, looks! I’m blind. Who’s going to look!” Britney answers back with heat. This was not a new topic for them.

     “How do you know who’s not going to look!” Katy answers, backed off, but still riding high on the strength of her conviction.

     “Oh, come on.” Britney says as she finds the steps with her cane. “Let’s get going before we have a real fight and miss the concert over this…this….” Her cane tapped on down the sidewalk to punctuate the unfinished sentence.

     Getting seated in the concert hall, Katy comments, face averted to the front-right, "Nice outfit!"

     "What? Who?" asks Britney.

     Katy answers, pronouncing her words slowly and very clearly to make a point to her friend. "Oh, I’m looking at a real cool outfit this blind girl is wearing. Nice hair and makeup, too."

     "No way!" Britney answers.

     "Way, Brit! Two couples just came in together. One is a sighted guy with this gorgeous blind redhead, and for the other couple, they’re both blind and both look cool.

     “Humph! I don’t care, Katy.”

     During the intermission, Britney and Katy go out to the lobby to get refreshments.

     “Oh Britney! Here comes the band, right out here in the lobby!” Rising upon her tiptoes, hand on Britney’s shoulder to steady herself, Katy continues on excitedly, “I can see the lead singer….Ohhh, up close, he’s cuter then I thought! And, and, and…there’s the base player!”

     ”Geeze, Katy….” Britney says, her voice scornful and offhand. “They’re just guys.”

     As a small commotion erupts behind them, Katy turns and looks. “EEEE, Brit! It’s that gorgeous drummer! He’s right behind you!”

     Britney's hands fly up. She snatches off her hat and with her fingers, frantically combs and pats her hair.


e-mail responses to

**1. Too many people slide into that attitude of saying that they don't care if they look good because they’ve gone blind and who's going to look at them anyway? People will always think more positive thoughts about you when you look good. It may take more effort each day to be sure you're groomed and you have stylish clothes on, but the benefits outlay the work and you'll get that extra boost of confidence which makes you want to stay good-looking for the world to see. I like to think of myself as a package that I present to people when I go out my door. Many people say that it's what is inside that makes the difference. I thoroughly agree with them. You're dealing with sighted people all day long though and the first thing they see is that clean or sloppy person who is walking out of his door. If you're sloppy, it's going to be just a little harder for the sighted person to take the time to find out if you're a person he or she wants to make friends with or do business with.

Leslie Miller

**2. I have seen this happen to the majority of my newly disabled clients. I am an Adjustment Counselor. I work with individuals of varying disabilities and I believe this interruption of self-image is a natural circumstance within the human psychology for any of us to experience. A major change in physiology tends to force us to revaluate how we think we look and will be accepted by others. Going blind or being disabled in any form is a threat to our self-image. Though I do not like using these terms, it is real, the disabled are looked down upon and are seen as being flawed. I don’t know of anyone who in their right mind would want to be disabled. And I’m also saying that becoming disabled can be adjusted to and part of that adjustment is to re-adjust ones self-image. Some times that means you do not look at your self in the very same way you did before, but in a new way that is acceptable to you. This means that in some cases, you do adjust to a lesser level of attractiveness on that scale of what is normally accepted.

In my counseling to this specific area of adjustment, I see that there are to major aspects to attractiveness or self-image. First is the social aspect. For example, if I become interested in dating a blind man, I have to weight what and how others around me will react to me and my date. I may not have a problem with the blindness, but I know that I will get reactions from the public and do I want that?

The second aspect to disability and attractiveness is the physical. For example, say I am a woman and like being looked at, in fact what if being seen is a major turn-on for me. Thus, if I start dating a blind man and because he can not see me, I have to decide if this is good enough for me to want to be with him in a real and intimate situation.

These are just a very few of the real issues that I have seen. There are many, many more; not being able to drive, people stare, the possibility that the impairment can be passed on to the next generation, etc.

This is not a light, nor insignificant issue. This is a very good thought provoking story and I will use it in my therapy.

Mary Masters New York USA

**3. This TP most vividly highlights the difference between new blinded and born blind individuals. Britney is still in denial and still needs to adjust to being blind. Katy's approach is, while attempting to be helpful, one that I would not take. However, the notion that blind people are not attractive, or cannot look attractive, or cannot be visually appealing, is purest... well. Blarney.

Mark BurningHawk BlindLaw list

**4. All it boils down to is self confidence. If a person doesn't have a good image of themselves then how will they appear to others. This girl obviously took
care of herself when she was sighted but because she was now blind she may think that she is less of a person. As for those who have always been blind,
some don't think about appearance merely because they don't see how others present themselves. Sometimes its harder though for people with residual vision
because they can see a little bit and may be overly self critical of their appearance and make too much of a comparison to others. What may look good to
a sighted person may look absolutely hideous when seen in a mirror by a person with residual vision.


**5. Looks are such an individual topic. I have red scarring on my cheeks from the illness that made me blind. Every woman I've ever met has told me that I need to cover this up with makeup. Every man I have asked about it says I look like I am blushing, they love it and I should leave it alone.
Go figure.

Eileen Levin Parents of Blind children list

**6. when my daughter went blind back in the middle 70’s, the head of the largest nursing school in Nebraska told me that she’d no longer care about her looks. This was his way of reassuring us that though my daughter, as a result of the car accident that blinded her, the disfigurement of her face would not matter. Needless to say, I was shocked and sought other counsel. I found it with other parents who had children who are blind. Today my daughter is married, a mom and I have 3 granddaughters.

Pauline Cook

**7. That sounds like the average teenagers dilemma am I pretty?
When I wasn't looking I turned 70 how did that happen? Grins Does my experience count? I had always been concerned about my picture taking family and friends What would I look like was my skirt straight Is my hair do ok etc.
Then one day I became legally blind
Now I don't fuss because I can't see the pictures of messy hair etc.
And the pictures of Mom make my grown up family happy So kids and friends go ahead snap away

Diane, Victoria BC Canada

**8. When I was a small boy my dad took me down town from time to time. This was Seattle in the early 1940's. On the corner of Second and Union sat a pathetic blind man, playing a very bad accordion. He had on shapeless gray clothes and wore a battered gray hat. He rolled his eyes up into his head and sat with his mouth gaping. He looked like an idiot.
At the age of thirty, when I became totally blind, one of the very first questions I asked my rehabilitation teacher was, "How can I keep from looking blind?" I told him that I knew that no one could tell that I was blind if they saw me from behind. But when they looked at my face...
In my mind, all those years, I held the image of that blind beggar. I realize now that I had come to believe that all blind men would look the same.
While the young woman in the story had obviously received some rehab training, she had not confronted her image of what a blind person is.
Whether this was the fault of her rehab program or her failure to connect and deal with it, she continued to hold a very negative view of who she, as a blind woman, had become.
Yet, despite all of this, she responded to the approach of a good looking young man. Also, she is very fortunate to have the friend she has. Too many of us, upon becoming blind, lose our circle of friends. To have this constant friend will assist her greatly in her eventual transformation. But it does speak to the need for rehab programs to be more tuned to the issues of self esteem. Waving a cane or reading Braille is only one small step in the rehabilitation process. The big jump is when an individual "feels" the transition. Going from a position of saying, "I believe that blind people can do anything they want to do", to, "I know I can do anything I want to do".

Carl Jarvis ACB-L list

**9. I have kids, and this issue isn't a blind/sighted issue. It's about kids and kids. Some care (too much) about their looks. Some need to be told by a
caring parent that they're not leaving the house unless they put on some clean clothes.
You are right that the kids WILL tell each other how they look. Fortunately, Britney has a friend with good taste.
In this story Britney is shown as being careless because of how she feels about herself, but I bet, if Britney were still sighted, she'd be down on herself
for another reason and still be dressing sloppily.

Judy Jones

**10. I think that Britney's stuck on the fact that she's blind; thus, why she doesn't find herself pretty or feel like she should continue dressing in the
latest style of clothes. Katy, on the other hand, is trying to teach Britney that, just because you're blind doesn't mean that you have to dress up like
a slouch. She's also teaching Britney that people will always look at you regardless of whether you're blind or not. Onlookers will either like what
you're wearing and not care whether or not you're blind, or they won't like what you're wearing regardless of whether you're blind or sighted. Now, as
to whether the band members get to liking Britney or not, I don't know. I suppose it would depend on how the band members view her and her blindness,
or how they see her carry herself, putting aside blindness altogether.
What I've found is that it is how you carry yourself, how you appear physically in how you dress and your demeanor, and your attitude that either draws
people to you or repels people from you. Yes, there are some who'll care that you're blind or belong to a racial or ethnic group they're prejudice about
and will turn away regardless of how nice you look or present yourself, but there are the many others who don't care and will be drawn to you or away from
you, depending on if what they see is what they like or don't like.
The other thing that struck me about the interaction between Britney and Katy was how Katy was pointing out all the cute guys in the band. To Britney,
it didn't matter because she couldn't see them. Just because you're blind doesn't mean that there aren't physical features or kinds of voices you cannot
be attracted to. Cuteness doesn't always mean something visual even though the sighted world often operates on that. Being cute can be the sound of the
person's voice or their scent that attracts you to that person. It could even be the way he/she holds your hand or hugs you. It points back to the fact
that "life is more than a picture". How cute someone is can be based on other senses than just sight.


**11. I have taken my time in responding to this Thought Provoker, well, because it provoked a lot of thought, and I didn't want to give a flippant response to such a compoundingly complex situation.
The fact that the girl in the story doesn't seem motivated to spend a lot of time and effort on being attractive after becoming blind, appears to be a simple case of not feeling that she is appealing anymore due to her blindness, but it actually encompasses for more complex issues, as well. One could conclude from reading the story, that perhaps more Personal/Social Adjustment
(PSA) training is all that is needed, in order for her to gain a stronger sense of self, and indeed this might be very beneficial. However, to really dig deep into what's going on here, we must consider some compounding elements, that typical PSA might not cover.
As an example, since I was born with Congenital Glaucoma, I have had my vision problems all of my life. My parents opted to not send me to the State school for the blind, because I had a lot of residual vision, and seemed to function fairly well in terms of getting around, and being able to play with other kids in the neighborhood without much ado about my vision. So, I grew up with the vision problem, which sort of eliminated the need for a formal adjustment training, since I never knew anything else. Through the process of just growing up, I learned to deal with the various issues which my vision presented, and lived a very "normal" childhood.
However, once I reached my teens, everything changed. I was suddenly faced with some realities, that childhood had not really prepared me for. The biggest blow, was the fact that all of my friends were going to be getting drivers licenses, and I wasn't (Nobody had told me about OccuTechs at the time, if they were even around in the 70's). So, during the difficult years of adolescence, there were a lot of additional issues presented which caused me to really struggle with my sense of manhood.
Asking girls out for a date, was even more difficult than it normally is boys in their teens, because I couldn't drive, therefore I either had to double date, think of a cool place to go that was within walking distance, use the bus, or find a girl who was interested enough in me, to be willing to drive.
I did utilize all of these strategies, but none were as empowering has having been able to drive would have been. Now the girl in this story, isn't being confronted with establishing a sense of manhood, so her issues are slightly, yet profoundly different. She is struggling with the idea of being "attractive," which in some ways, is the same struggle which I was dealing with, when we take the concept of attractiveness, to mean more than just physical beauty.
Anyone whop is blind, can attest to the fact that there is more to attraction, than just physical beauty, even though during the typical sighted adolescent's experience, this is seen as paramount to everything else. I was struggling with the idea that girls would not be attracted to a guy who couldn't drive, and therefore appeared to be a "loser" in the teen scene of the day's perspective. This young lady is feeling that she is not attractive for more femininely influenced reasons, which would be difficult for any male to fully understand.
Since males generally are attracted to females for different reasons than females are attracted to males, the similarities in the adolescent's struggle for identity, are quickly complicated by a barrage of personal, cultural, and social influences, which affect attitudes about gender roles, attractiveness, and a sense of self within those boundaries. We are all confronted with reconciling six different perspectives of who we are. 1) Who we actually are, 2) who we think we are, 3) who others think we are, 4) who we think others think we are, 5) who others think we think we are, and 6) who we want to be. Reconciling these six dimensions of who we are, is no simple task. That's why adolescence in general is full of turmoil, as young people struggle for their sense of personal; identity.
In working with adolescent substance abusers, I refused to label my clients as addicts or alcoholics at their age, because teens tend to so internalize labels, that I didn't want to be responsible for incorrectly instilling a false identity on any of the young people with whom I worked. This made the work much more complicated, as I had to develop new materials to confront the behaviors, without perpetuating the label. This eventually lead me to the development of my Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual model, as I had to find a way to describe in simplistic terms, some very complex issues which they were being confronted. I created a grid with those four headings at the top, and four rows labeled, People, Places, Things, and Actions. When divided into rows and columns, this makes a sixteen cell grid which can encompass any life experience which we may find ourselves in.
This allowed the teens to place their experiences somewhere in the grid, and then examine how those experiences affected the sixteen aspects of their lives, which I eventually packaged as a curriculum, and call it "Life Squared."
I would love to get to work with Britney from this story, and explore the events of her life through this model, because I think it could go a long way in helping her to gain some sense of self as an attractive young woman, who
just happens to be blind.
I don't think traditional PSA can address all of the issues involved here, unless the curriculum being used, is designed to address the complexities of gender identity, as well as the compounding issues of adolescence, and adjustment to disabilities. Because gender identity, adolescent emotions and culture, and. adjustment to the disability in general are all converging in this young ladies life, all at once. She is struggling with many conflicting emotions as demonstrated by her sudden, and I venture to say, instinctive reflex, when the thought of a cute guy being right behind her, caused her to suddenly primp. Ultimately, I feel that with the continued influence of her friend, she will be fine, as she learns to reconcile the various emotions with her experiences, and grows into her sense of self, as a young woman who is blind. Heck, I'm forty-six now, and still have reconciling to do. It's not a destination, but a journey, in which each of us embarks.

Dennis Gerron
Community Development Specialist
Social Development Systems
Dallas, TX 75218
(214) 321-0752

**12. One of the advantages I have always been grateful for is good genetics. Unless we put on too much weight, Native American women have classic high cheekbones,
thick glossy hair and very good skin. It is important to use what gifts we have been given even if we can't see them ourselves. Other people can and
they make judgments on what they see. Slovenly clothes, dirty hair that is unkempt makes people uncomfortable and they will avoid speaking to or dealing
with you. So it's much more than attracting romantic attention. Clerks in stores, passers-by that may be able to give you directions, co-workers, employers
will be unlikely to bother to find out who you really are if you don't take pains to present your best image. Blindness itself poses enough problems without
adding to it the avoidable disadvantage of an unattractive appearance. Once a year, I have a sighted friend I trust evaluate my wardrobe with me to eliminate
clothes that have faded, gotten irrevocable stained or frayed. I keep track of colors and styles and when I get a lot of compliments on a particular outfit
I pay attention. Over the years I have found out what colors I look best in and which styles suit me best. It really is worth the effort to know I am
well put together because then I can concentrate on other things.

Deanna QuietWater USA

**13. My Opinion:

Of course, being blind does not directly affect your beauty...your Looks, but it does, however, affect the way some people perceive you. The dilemma faced by the young girl in the narrative is an internal struggle in which she has let her vision loss negatively affect her personality and lower her self-esteem. Maybe her feeling that no one would be attracted to her because now she is blind is due to her own personal preference of not being
attracted to a blind person if the shoe was on the other foot.

When I initially lost my sight, I felt the same way as the young girl. I did not feel attractive anymore. I did not think anyone would be attracted to me because I was different now, and it seemed my vision lost limited my
abilities and my independence.

There were noticeable changes, such as my closed ones having to be my eyes when we went out or to guide me around areas. Also, I could not go Places I use to, like to night clubs or crowded outings. It is not that I could Not go to these places, but I did not want to go because I felt I was
Hindering others from completely having fun by requiring them to constantly look out for me to make sure I am not injured or misled or assaulted, etc. These
changes and realizations really did a number to my self-esteem to the point that I got nervous around other people, especially those I did not know. Also, I went through a stage of depression in which I did not care about the current trends or things happening around me. So, I did not dress very
fashionable when I went out because I did not care, and I did not think anyone else would care either because I am blind.

Jessica Smith NABS-L ACB list

**14. Jessica,
I totally understand what you are saying and I think this young lady has experienced a major blow to her self image not just self esteem. Teens frequently define their self image by looking in the mirror and by looking at other teens and as you put it you lost that ability and therefore didn't
care about how you looked to others. I am glad you have found that confidence again and are feeling stronger as a
person. I think too, that those of us who lose our eye sight later after having had sight truly have to walk through this before we realize that we are still who we are. I find this is a normal process and part of the grief
and recovery from the significant change we have experienced.
Just my thoughts,

Mary R. NABS-L ACB list

**15. Yes Mary, I agree completely. Self-image is damaged too because, as you said, teens do define their image by looking in the mirror or at others, and after losing your vision, you have to view yourself through the eyes of others. You ask others opinion of how things look or how you look or how things will look on you, etc. Everyone's preferences and opinions differ, so I must trust that you are telling me honestly or that it looks or I look as you described. I think having previously had 16 years of sight is very beneficial for me in this way because I can still visualize things. I only need someone to describe something to me, like clothing, and I can determine whether I like it or not by my mental picture of the item.

Also, I had to really accept the fact that I am still "jess." Yes, I am blind, but I am still "Jess," and I do not feel myself different from anyone else my age. I know that sounds funny, but we are really are different if we analyze the issue. Some of us have readily visible defects of disabilities (blindness), whereas some have those that are not (such as asthma or heart disease or diabetes). So, I am not sure how to define normal, but I would not consider myself abnormal because of my blindness. I still consider myself above normal because of my abilities. I like me, and I think I am beautiful both inside and out. What matters most, however, is inner beauty.
It truly shines through. Once one loves and accepts themselves for who they are, they will be confident, and immaterial things, such as trends, really will not matter so much. They will focus more on just being presentable and themselves.

Jessica Smith NABS-L ACB list

**16. Yes, and one of the biggest things we have to deal with when asking Someone else for their opinion on the way something looks, is whether or not they are being truthful with us about its appearance, or just saying something looks good just so they don't hurt our feelings. We want and expect them to be honest about something, such as when we've spilled something on our shirt. We want them to point that out to us. People may be hesitant to do this, thinking it would be mean to do so, but I think its meaner to not tell us, and just let us go on with the spot on our clothing. So that's one of the most important things we can have -- someone who we can trust to be honest about the way we look or the way something looks on us.
But its still hard to find and know for sure sometimes, because we have to base something almost entirely on someone else's opinions. You're right though that it does help when you have had usable vision before so that you can mentally picture something being described. But you still have to rely on someone else picking that item out from all the others to describe. It
still has to be something that catches their attention in the first place.

Sarah NABS-L ACB list

**17. I have always been blind. I can see colours but don't know what goes with what. I know it's important to look good, but here, my sister comes in handy as
my fashion consultant and she keeps me in line from time to time. I'm always tidy, but looking good for a guy can be difficult when you can't just look
in the mirror or mirror other girls of your own age. I find this provoker hard to understand in some ways because I just assumed that if you became blind
later in life it would be still very important to you to look good, part of the crowd, and to still fit in and not be a misfit.

Nicola Stowe, Braille proof-reader, Australia

**18. Just because you may happen to lose your sight doesn't mean that you also lose your sense of style or fashion, especially if you've had the privilege of sight, know colors and how to put it together. You still have the ability of telling what looks/feels right, and what absolutely looks/feels downright dreadful, or unflattering to your body shape. I feel Britney has more of a low self-esteem conflict due to her loss of her vision, and her dressing slobbery is a way of her expressing her unhappiness; a sort of rebellion towards her blindness. All the best. - Kim Share your yesterdays, dream of tomorrow, but live for today!!

Kim Lookingbill (email or MSN Messenger)

**19. I know all of us, either sighted or blind, have times when we just don't care what we look like. Maybe we are doing something grungy that would "unpretty"
anything that looked decent anyway. I think that is fine.
On the other hand, I think it is important to consider our hopes every day when we get up in the morning and decide what to wear, whether to bathe, what
might be hanging between our teeth from last's night.
I have decided you never know who you might need to impress on any given day. If I decide it would be ok to wear a pear of jeans and a t-shirt to work,
I take the risk of having to go home and change because an employer is coming in or needs me to go do something. Even if it is someone who comes in to
buy a deck of cards for Grandma, I might want that person in my corner some day as I hunt for work, collect for childhood cancer or ask for the opportunity
to speak publicly.
I think being pretty is often over-emphasized in our culture but I also think some people don't consider it enough. There needs to be a happy medium.
Pretty might depend on what you are doing. As president of our Optimist club, I might be going to the lodge for a cleaning day where I will find myself
filthy within minutes. I will feel better about myself if I at least have the satisfaction of knowing I started out in clean clothes that fit well and
look decent on me.
I have tried over the past few years to pay more attention to what others wear and how they look. That is one way to learn what the world around us expects
of us.

Nancy Coffman
Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Program Specialist for Technology Services

**20. I grew up blind, and I tried to fit in most of the time with fashion and make-up and stuff. In fact, shortly after I was married, I sold Mary Kay Cosmetics for a while. I think though my mother pushed me to much into being :in style: when I wanted to pursue my style and be comfortable. For example I prefer a fuller skirt, and my mother thinks I should wear a more A-shaped skirt. I still look nice, and I am comfortable. I also cared about how I looked when it came to guys. Sometimes this is a touchy issue because I was teased about my high school sweetheart. I was blind, and Shawn was fat and asthmatic. I didn't care, and neither did he. I always tried to look nice when we went out. Now we have been married for six years, and we have two kids. Well those are my thoughts.

Kasondra Payne NFB Parents of blind children list

**21. I'm definitely a jeans and T-shirt kind of gal! I do have dresses and make-up and curling irons and all that stuff. I just prefer my Levi's and my hair in a pony tail. I also think you can wear jeans and look dressed up or you can wear a dress and look frumpy. It's more than just the clothes, it's the way you carry yourself and how comfortable you are. I think it's totally a personal preference. As long as your not using your blindness as an excuse for not dressing a particular way, then it's all good!

Julie Crane NFB Parents of Blind Children list

**22. My boyfriend is visually impaired, and he is meticulous about his appearance. He does an awesome job of trimming his beard to perfection and he takes great care in the way his hair behaves. He showers every single day and powders himself and puts on expensive cologne. I met him on the internet and
the first time I laid eyes on him I fell in love. He looked so handsome standing there holding a long stem beautiful rose for me. I didn't even notice
his white cane. That was five years ago and to me he is still as handsome. It's important for all of us to take care of ourselves both physically and


**23. I feel that regardless of disability or ability, presenting yourself in a way that helps you feel true to yourself and others is important. I think that
making an effort to be clan and tidy is as much about self confidence as it is a appearance. I felt this person who was portrayed as "blind" was really demonstrating
lack of self esteem. if you do not feel good about yourself, then you may be less likely to appears "good" or well presented in any situation.

Jennifer Australia

**24. This reminds me of a time quite long ago when my sister and I sang and played guitars for various groups.
One time I heard a woman say, rather loudly,
"It's too bad! If it wasn't for their eyes, they would be pretty girls!" I didn't stick around to hear the response to such nonsense.

Lauren Merryfield, Everett, WA

**25. I have never known what it is like to not be blind. But I know what it is to feel self-conscious concerning ones appearance in a predominantly sighted world. Due to my eye condition my eyes perpetually cross or shift in different directions. So I can be dressed up, at my best, and still not be looking others in the eye hoping they will not notice. It is not the being blind that overly concerns me, but the looking weird.

But the truth is that it is less about weather your blind or not but how you perceive yourself. People are still attracted to people based on a personal connection and by attitudes put forth by the other person. So if you see yourself as attractive and put a out there as though you belong, as you do, people will respond in kind. People will see blindness as secondary to the person you are when you see it that way yourself.

Jayne Seif NFB NABS list

**26. I'm not sure that Britney's reactions about self image weren't more a product of the stress of adapting to blindness. While you've made the points that
she's adept with cane and note takers, the subtler nuances of emotional strategizing take years to tweak into place. She's fortunate she has friends to
help. Sadly, all too often, people become isolated, with no chance of involvement with anyone with whom their emotional processes can resonate.


**27. I have been congenitally blind from ROP, but can not imagine not caring about my personal appearance. We owe it to those who have to look at us albeit briefly to look the best we can. Britney perhaps would have an adjustment period and that could certainly be extensive, but eventually she remembered she was female again especially when she heard about the drummer.
Her heart was a comer *smile

Dinky Jacksonville, Florida

**28. Interesting. This subject has come up recently now that I am living independently. Well, in the sense that I am not relying on my mommy and daddy as much.
I still rely on them for a few things, but I am mostly on my own. Everyone here has been trying to get me to "dress for success." Nobody has ever been
rude or obnoxious about this, but I do see their point and I agree I need to be better about it. This includes things such as shaving daily or every other
day, picking out the proper clothes to wear, etc. I will be the first one to admit that I have been relatively bad about this. I do agree, though, that
it has a whole lot to do with human psychology. However, as someone who has been blind since birth and is unemployed, I do feel like I have somewhat of
an excuse. The only job I ever held was a receptionist position at a nonprofit organization. We were not required to dress formally, but we could if we
really felt adventurous. I did have a couple jobs in high school, but I wore my regular school clothes to these jobs. So there was never really a time
in my life when I had to dress up, with the exception of functions which I've attended with my family. For example, I wore very dressy clothes to my sister's
wedding this summer. It was a very nice wedding held at a local women’s' club. I not only wore dressy clothes to her wedding, but we had a bunch of family
and friends, plus family and friends of the groom, over to my parents' house for cookouts both before and after the wedding. My parents both appreciated
the fact that I took the time to dress up, and I think the newlyweds were especially appreciative. If ever I get a job, I now know that one absolutely
has to dress up and look nice for the occasion, and not stand out. This is something which I'm going to suggest to my skills tutor for a goal. A neighbor
and I went clothes shopping earlier this summer, and she had me try on everything we looked at before we purchased it. That same neighbor then went clothes
shopping with one of her sons, and again they had me try on the clothes first. These people are both fully sighted.

Jake Joehl Illinois

**29. Hello:
Like Resp. 21, I'm also a jeans and t-shirt person, but I make sure that I look presentable to the public no matter where I go; even if it's just to
go next-door to the convenience store. However, how people see beauty goes beyond disability, how you carry yourself, and your physique--being fat or
thin. It also applies to the color of your skin.
Some people are attracted to you because you're blonde-haired and blue-eyed or because you have brown skin and brown eyes. With prejudice and racism
against people of color, if you're a person of color and are blind, or have some other kind of disability, you as the person of color have to think about
your image from both angles. As a person of color, people who are prejudice towards people of color already have their ideas about you based on the negative
portrayals of people of color in the media--thieves, wearing very baggy clothes, hair looking like bugs have been sucking off of it, etc. When you add
disability--blindness, being in a wheelchair, etc.--you have a double-whammy. There are still people out here who envision blind and disabled people as
dressing slouchy or not color-coordinated with their clothes, don't have their hair combed, aren't shaved, haven't bathed in who knows how long, etc.
There are times when my husband decides that he's not going to comb his hair just to go next-door to the convenience store because it's one extra unnecessary
thing to do and/or because he knows that people already look at him funny and what does it matter. That's when I tell him, "they may already be looking
at you funny and think of us disabled people as slouches, but you don't have to add to it by not combing your hair." I'm always remind him what he told
me and some of my other blind friends, "when you walk out of your house, you're an ambassador to your people".
In our case, we're ambassadors to blind and disabled people, but we're also ambassadors to Black and Asian people. That's why, even if I'm only going
next-door, I clean up and dress as if I'm going to some big event. No, I don't dawn myself up in a dress and wear make-up, but I wear my t-shirt and jeans
that are not wrinkled up and look like I've been sleeping in them.


**30. thanks Robert for sending out the responses to the thought provoker. Many is the time I'd love to hear the comments of others on a particular provoker but
just don't have the time to visit the website and read them.
Thanks for this opportunity. I liked this one. At first I didn't have any comments but today standing in the university dorm parking lot while my daughter
helped her older sister in side with some laundry she had brought home for the weekend, I felt self conscious.
I had worn work clothes. When it was time to leave I just hopped into the car in the clothes I was wearing. When we arrived my daughters teased me about
being hairy from all the dog hair I had been working in. I stood there feeling sure that the young people who passed were staring at me.
I find that I like to be dressed age appropriately I don't like makeup and I don't wear jeans but I like looking good in the clothes I choose to wear.


**31. Good show! This one definitely thought-provoked for me.

Lots of complexities abound here; I admit I haven’t read through all the responses yet, so maybe someone else made the same observations at this juncture
that I’m about to make.

The girl in the story highlights that we as blind people are in many respects just as concerned about our attractiveness to the opposite (or same) sex as
anyone else is. Though she has an adjustment to make, I daresay she never really lost the desire to please the eye of someone else. I think the end of
the story definitely shows us that.

But as many have already pointed out, there are a lot of factors that go into how one can be attractive and how another can be attracted to you. And as
someone else observed, at least one of the factors in dating situations is that the potential sighted partner may be concerned that the potential blind
partner cannot possibly appreciate how attractive the sighted one is. I actually dated someone very briefly about fifteen years ago who eventually told
me that my blindness played a part in his determination not to date me because he really thrived on others’ appreciations of how he looked. I thought this
was pretty shortsighted at the time (pardon the pun) because let’s face it: We all grow older. We get wrinkled. Our hair gets gray and/or falls out. Maybe,
if we’re really batting a thousand, our teeth also fall out and we have to get dentures. Eventually we reach the point where maybe we want to have a person
around us who’ll care about us whether we’re total babes or not. There’s so much potential for long-term happiness that gets lost whenever we become a slave
to my friend’s way of thinking.

And also, when you’re young, just hitting puberty, you just then become extremely conscious of your own appearance. I did, at any rate. I’d like to say
it wasn’t because of my blindness, but my blindness definitely played a part in forming the image of myself that I had for a very long time and only recently
shook off. For since I am blind, I couldn’t possibly tell how I looked in the mirror, and I surely couldn’t ever be sure who found me attractive and who
didn’t. It got really bad for me for a while because of the glorious case of acne I started developing when I was twelve. I suspect I had a map of the
Martian canals on my forehead, an interesting graphic relief map of Hawaii on my chest, a practically three-dimensional image of the Virgin Mary on my
back and a new subscription to some of my favorite magazines on my chin. (When you finally get over the whole acne experience you can develop a pretty
good comedy routine out of it, or maybe I’m the only one who finds it funny. Oh well.)

Plus I have this rather Neapolitan-looking proboscus on my face and so was sensitive about it. When my hair started thinning in my late teens, well you
can imagine my feeling that it really frosted an already bitter cake. So when I thought about finding a male partner, I had a lot of baggage to overcome.
Of course, it worked the same whenever I thought about finding a female one. In any event, my wife married me anyway. We’ve got some stuff we’re working
on now, but I can say that none of it involves my self-image. Sometimes I wish it did.

But I grew out of my teens, and you couldn’t make me relive those particular aspects about those years for anything less than a billion dollars. (Hey, everybody
has their price.) But if I had to do it over again I’d have been born gorgeous as well as rich. (Yeah, exactly.) But sometimes I find it rather freeing
to just go to the local convenience store looking like Willie Nelson or something – hair uncombed (what there is of it anyway), wearing my slippers, etc.
But I had to reach that critical time in my life when I said that if someone didn’t like me because of my looks, well, someone else just might because
of, or in spite of, those same looks. I mean, aside from good personal grooming, hygiene and an acquired sense of fashion (have to say I still need work
on that one even after all this time), you can only go so far in actually changing your entire appearance without resorting to plastic surgery. It seems
countless people do resort to that, but then there’s the opposite problem that you can believe yourself to be so devastatingly pretty that you alienate
people. Goes to show that human beings are quite insane at times.

John D. Coveleski (

**32. It always galls me that David, who happens to be blind, is so photogenic, while I am not. Even when I was younger I was sure that though I wasn't ugly,
what I did look like didn't come out right in pictures. Of course now I'm older I see the pictures of the younger me, and wonder what on earth I was thinking.
It's all self image.

Lori Stayer Merrick, New York

**33. So Britney had recently gone blind, and she's in such a funk that she doesn't care about her personal appearance anymore. Hmmm...
She says, "I'm blind! Nobody's going to look at me anyway!" The first thought that comes to mind is that she's so distraught, she can't think clearly. Of
course people will notice her! The white cane with the red tip is just as much for their benefit as it is for hers. Not only does it help her get around,
but it tells sighted people that a blind person is approaching, in no uncertain terms. So, yes, people had better notice her, if they know what's good
for both of them. (Come to think of it, a big German Shepherd on a harness would convey this message even more adamantly!)
However, Britney sounds like it will be hard to convince her. In all fairness, I can't say I blame her. Let's not forget that she's a teen-ager, and a girl.
Those aspects have their own issues, regardless of whether she's blind or not, and it is quite possible that her hang-up on "appearance" is more rooted
in that than in her handicap.
One thing I've learned is that you can't deal with an issue by cajoling anyone. The harder you push, the more they resist. ("To every action, there is an
equal and opposite reaction.") Remember "Pig Pen," the dirty character from Peanuts? If badgering didn't clean him up, it certainly won't work on Britney.

I would deal with this by working from a completely different angle. It is clear that Britney doesn't care about her appearance because she doesn't believe
anybody would have any use for a blind person. If you read between the lines, her actual reasoning is, "I'm blind! What could I possibly do for YOU? So,
knowing that you don't want me, why should I waste effort on grooming?" Well-intentioned friends pointed out some guy who was hanging out with a "gorgeous
blind redhead," but that's not enough. (I think it would inspire even more bitterness. After all, you don't want to compare one girl's looks to another's!
That NEVER works!)

I would approach Britney, and say, "Britney, could you help me?"
I'm not kidding.
One thing I'd like to do, personally, is produce both educational and recreational reading material for the blind. However, I personally don't know the
first thing about Braille, nor do I know anything about the other tools for the blind. So I would say, "Britney, I want to produce some Braille material,
but I can't read Braille. How would you want it done? Would you proofread this for me? Thank you."
If I catch her at the right moment, she would be caught completely by surprise, and she just might react positively. I can picture her face just lighting
up with excitement as she says, "Yes!" Well, she might not be quite that excited; but if I convince her that my interest is genuine, she just might give
it a try.
And suppose she does? At first, she just might say, "Well, this is how I do my homework." She might even invite me to her house to demonstrate (with parental
supervision, of course). Her homework done, she might ask me, "Okay, what would you want to do with this?" Then I'd get into it. Her anticipation could
then build up, to the point where she does the best job she could with the tools she has. But after a while, she might say, "You know, these tools are
adequate for Grade School homework assignments; but if you REALLY want to produce professional material, you'll need top-notch equipment." Then she might
say, "Hmmm...they have this kind of stuff at the local AFB affiliate. Maybe they can show you something."
So we'd go there together. Before leaving, however, Britney just might say, "Let me get changed..."
PRESTO! Problem solved! How does that follow? Simple: If any person thinks of himself or herself as unwanted and/or useless, then why should they care about
their appearance? Conversely, if you show that person that she is indeed an asset, then the grooming instinct will kick in without even mentioning it.
(After all, if you didn't think you'd be having visitors, would you bother picking up your apartment? Admit it: most people wouldn't !)

LACK OF PURPOSE is the real reason for Britney's careless grooming. We are warned, "Provoke not your children to wrath," and I know from personal experience
that children are most deeply angered by not knowing their purpose in life. Once Britney realizes that she CAN be useful, she will gladly do whatever it
takes to reciprocate that trust. Even a blind person could see that.

David Lafleche