The last few weeks, I’ve gotten comments, messages, and even emails of people telling me I’m brave because I am legally blind. I did a post about how I do my makeup as a visually impaired woman, so I guess a lot of people are responding from that. I didn’t realize how much of a shock it would be to some to learn about the abilities of the non-sighted.
People make assumptions about the things they don’t know or understand all the time. Lately, I’ve heard so many remarks along the lines of, “I didn’t know blind people put makeup on like that.” By “like that,” many of the people meant without assistance from someone with sighted.
Offended? You bet your ass I’m am. I’m not nearly as upset as I would have been 10 years ago though, because I’m used to it. I’m used to others being surprised by what I am able to do. I am blind, and I am capable. Assumptions and word choice can quickly go from attempted compliment to hurting someone’s feelings.
Bet You Didn’t Know
As a blogger, I talk about my disability a fair amount, because I believe advocacy and awareness are essential. I didn’t use to be so vocal about my eye diseases- retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration. During college, I started to be more open about my vision loss. I did a lot of public speaking at disability awareness panels, and I’ve discussed my blindness in almost all of my blogs.
I don’t mind questions or comments. I’m very open to questions. In fact, most of the blogger collaborations I do, include questions about my life as a blind SAHM. I’m always willing to feed people’s curiosity if it helps them gain some knowledge.
However, one of my big pet peeves is when people think that my disability means I’m not capable. People assume I need taken care of. My husband got a lot of comments and “warnings” about marrying me, because people thought he would have to take care of me for the rest of his life.
First of all, marriage is about taking care of each other. Secondly, if you ask my husband who takes care of whom, he will tell you his survival would be limited without me. Jokes aside, I run my household. I’m like Wonder Woman meets Daredevil, and it’s a magnificent and capable combination.
I do understand when people are surprised by certain tasks that I do because of safety concerns. I get that, but you’d be surprised what myself and the rest of the blind community are capable of.
Bet you didn’t know:
- I chop most of the vegetables and fruits for our meals by hand. I’m pretty sure I cut myself maybe once a year but that’s about it.
- I clean my house from top to bottom, including getting on a stool for ceiling fans and walls.
- I do all of my own makeup and tweeze my own brows. However, I do ask my husband if it’s even, but I’d do that even if I was sighted. Second opinions are nice.
- I do all of the laundry, including work uniforms that need special care. I’ve never had snafus with discoloration either.
- I create most of the resumes and fill out applications for friends and family. Technical writing was one of my minors in college.
- I’ve changed the majority of poop diapers for both of my kids, and they’ve never had a rash or issue with not being clean.
Not to toot my own horn, but TOOT. Just because I am blind doesn’t mean I can’t do the same things as the sighted. I do have different ways to do things because of my eyes, but the only thing they hold me back from is driving.
Blind AND Capable
The blind community is so much more capable than others realize as well. I shouldn’t even be tooting my damn horn, because there are people with visual impairments that are breaking down all of the barriers and I mean all of them!
There are blind photographers, musicians, marathon runners, cyclists, makeup artists, and even Olympian’s. There are people who have a disability but still manage to put all doubts of others aside and conquer the world. They inspire me.
I shouldn’t have to explain myself or anyone else in the blind community, but I feel like I’ve been seeing more members of the blind community get slighted with snarky and uneducated comments. These last few weeks, I’ve read comments saying “you’re beautiful for being a blind woman” on Instagram. They only get worse there too, so I felt like this post was necessary.
I’m not trying to come across angry or bitter, but it’s frustrating when people think you’re not capable of independence let alone everyday tasks. These types of assumptions and the rude comments aren’t always easy to hear. I promise you, blind people aren’t ugly trolls that live under a bridge, so please don’t treat us as such.
Love/Hate Relationship with Being Called Brave
I understand that when someone tells me I’m brave for discussing my vision, it is supposed to be a compliment. Thank you, I appreciate it, but it’s not quite black and white. There’s other words and parts of the message to consider. It’s about the context of the compliment and the words surrounding brave, because they can teeter the message to the positive side or the negative side.
When you say I’m brave for living like a sighted person without fear or letting my vision hold me back, it feels like you’re also making the assumption that blind people should wallow and have constant assistance. Being independent and capable doesn’t make me brave, it makes me a woman who chooses to live her life without dwelling on the hand she was dealt.
I appreciate that my voice and my determination, as a blind person, can be uplifting and inspiring. It’s just that when you use the certain words or comparisons to the sighted and non-sighted surrounding the word brave, it can come off multiple ways to me.
For example, I do a lot of posts and pictures promoting body positivity. I get told I’m brave for showing my body as it is. Some people in society don’t think plus size women with stretch marks and cellulite are beautiful, but I am proud to love my body and show others they can love themselves too. I’m being called brave, because even though I accept my body, society doesn’t. See the connection?
Being called brave in that context makes me feel like I’m living a way I shouldn’t. Whether it’s safety or societal expectation, that’s how it can feel about my blindness sometimes. I genuinely appreciate the compliment, but you should know that it can also come across differently than intended.
I’m not saying never compliment anyone with a disability. I also not saying to never call someone brave. Just think about the words and your message. Think about the context of your compliment. I am brave but not because of my circumstance.