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10 Intrusive Personal Hygiene Questions People Ask Me as a Blind Woman

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After the initial shock wears off when people discover I’m legally blind, the “tip-toe questioning” commences. That’s when a sighted person decides to ask me ten less offensive questions on their quest to get the balls necessary to ask me that one, burning question they’re dying to know relating to my disability. While I’m pretty open to answering just about anything with relation to my visual impairment, I’m busy and I’ve got two kids to take care of. In an effort to avoid this annoying process, here are 10 of the most common personal grooming questions I’ve been asked along with my honest (sorry, Mom) responses.

1. How do you shave your armpits? Yup, people have asked me this. No, really. Do you remember that Julia Roberts long armpit hair phase?  Well that “look” doesn’t fly with me! I shave my underarms like any other woman. In the confines of my shower, I put a little bit of liquid soap under my armpit. I raise my arms over my head (one at a time, of course) and then make three long strokes with my Venus razor in the direction the hair grows. I go slightly farther down with the razor than I did before I lost my eyesight just to make sure I haven’t missed any stragglers.  TMI? Remember, you asked.

2. How do you pluck your eyebrows?  I’m a firm believer in knowing your limits. Plucking my eyebrows is beyond the scope of my current skill set as a blind woman. I’ll own that. For $7.00, I can walk into any nail salon in New York City and get a brow wax.  Money well spent if you ask me. However, I am happy to report that does not mean I don’t use tweezers for other personal grooming.  I am quite capable of pulling out an occasional chin hair by feel!  Don’t pretend you don’t have any. You know who you are.

3. Can you paint your own nails?  In a word, no. But if I’m being totally honest, that was always difficult for me, even when I could see. On occasion, I do paint my daughter’s nails with a non-toxic nail polish called Piggy Paint. The brush is large enough for me to hit those tiny fingers, giving their nails enough color to make them happy.  At 3 and 1 years old, neither one of them are requesting French manicures, so I’m in good shape. At least for now.

4. How do you put on lipstick?  I became blind when I was 32 years old. I had a good 16 years of practice before becoming visually impaired. I think I know where my lips are. MWAH!

5. What about mascara and eye liner?  If I wasn’t already blind from cancer, I probably would have lost my eyesight in a tragic liquid eyeliner accident. That crap is not easy to apply for any woman. I usually make a feeble attempt in the hopes I will somewhat resemble Adele, but I actually end up looking more like Johnny Depp a la “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Not pretty. Truthfully, I tend not to wear eye makeup because it irritates my eyes. If I do want to wear it for a special occasion, I will happily pay someone to do my makeup professionally.

6. How do you shave your legs?  Same as the pits (see #1). I hike my leg up against my shower wall, lather up, and break out the razor. I start at my ankle bone, going all the way up my thigh, then move slightly over with every pass of the razor. I’ve cut myself many times using this method, but no more than I did when I had 20/20 vision. Sometimes, being a woman is just complicated. Pain is beauty, right?

7. How do you take care of your “lady parts?” Don’t believe someone has really ever
asked me this? I hate to tell you, it’s happened on more than one occasion. I have two responses: I either leave “it” alone or seek out professional help from an aesthetician (waxer). Do not, I repeat, do not attempt to go anywhere in that general vicinity with an electric trimmer. I tried that route once when I was pregnant with my first child and I needed an emergency visit to my OB-GYN afterwards. Yeah, how’s that for an overshare. Needless to say I didn’t need stitches, but it came pretty damned close. No thanks, this blind chick has learned her lesson.

8. What about your Aunt Flo? Are you kidding me with this? (Insert eye roll with my good eye here.) Here’s the thing, there are certain things a lady knows just because she’s a lady. It doesn’t require any significant detailed explanation. We have 4 other senses besides eyesight that allow us all to know what’s going on with our bodies. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. “Period.”

9. How do you brush your teeth? With a toothbrush. Enough said.

10. How do you style your hair? My hair has always been relatively short. I’m the low-maintenance type and never fussed over my “do” so to speak. I would wash it, towel it off, and blow dry. Most ladies will agree that if you’ve gotten into the habit of parting your hair to one side, it just seems to naturally land there after awhile. That didn’t change after I lost my eyesight.

Since being diagnosed with alopecia in April 2016, hair is no longer an issue for me.  I just choose between one of my two wigs, throw it on, and go. At home, I’m usually au natural – meaning I’ve startled a few delivery men by answering the door in all my bald-headed glory. I have to admit, I’ve kind of enjoyed that part of my hair loss journey.

Here’s the thing, I totally understand your curiosity. It’s not so much the questions themselves that bother me, it’s their delivery. Take it from this blind woman, most ladies don’t like being asked overly personal questions with regards to their beauty regimen. Would you ask a sighted person any of these questions? Probably not.

If you encounter someone who is blind or visually impaired, stop the “tip-toe” questioning.  Respectfully, come right out and ask what you want to know. You might be surprised by some of the answers you’ll get.

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Originally published: July 5, 2016
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