If you read my last blog, you know that I find a lot of these “RP Truths” to be very relevant and I can relate to them a lot. This RP Truth is particularly relevant to something I was thinking about and noticed today.
You will almost always catch me with sunglasses on my head. This is for many reasons. 1) I never know what kind of light situation I’m going to be in and these can sometimes prevent a lot of headaches caused by lights. 2) I have a pair of prescription sunglasses that can help me see certain things in very certain situations. 3) I don’t like having hair in my face and I’m very self-conscious about my hair so when I wear these, it makes me relax a little bit.. and 4) I feel a little more ‘legit” with them.
Now.. let me explain.
I am becoming increasingly more sensitive to different light situations. If it is fluorescent lighting or really bright, my eyes will easily become much more fatigued and I will often get a headache. If it is do dark, I will not be able to see anything at all. So, how I fix this is I have the normal lighting and then if it starts to bother me, I usually will put on my sunglasses (yes even indoors) and go about my day. However, most of the time this is just when I am by myself in my apartment, office, etc.
My nice pair of sunglasses is prescription so if I need to try and see something with a bit more clarity, I can put these on for a moment. However, wearing them for too long also makes my eyes fatigue and I don’t get that much benefit from prescriptions anymore, unfortunately.
My hair has always been something I have been self conscious about. Nobody really taught me how to do my hair and for most of my life, I really didn’t care. But now I’m getting to the point where I do care, and it’s frustrating that I don’t really have a lot of strengths in this area. I’m continuing to learn though and have been to a really good hair stylist who taught me a few things. But since I’ve gone most of my life without doing these things, it’s an adjustment building time into my schedule and routine to take the time to do these things. However, when I wear my sunglasses on top of my head and it pulls my hair back, it looks a lot better to me and helps me to feel more relaxed and “put together.”
Finally, I still struggle with the fact that I don’t “look” blind and that I have so much trouble because of this stereotype of what blind should look like. I’ve written a few things about this (including something for The Mighty) and plan to do another blog this month about it, but because I can make eye contact with one another, use my phone regularly, etc., people do not assume that I am really blind, even though I ALWAYS have my guide dog with me. So, sometimes it makes me feel a little more “legit” or makes me wonder if people will give me a little less hassle and a little more help if they see the sunglasses on the top of my head.
I almost never wear sunglasses on my eyes when out in public, they are almost always on my head. Sometimes I want to when the light is bad, but I just don’t.. it doesn’t feel right for some reason wearing sunglasses all of the time. However, I do know that a lot of people who are blind do wear sunglasses whenever they go out for various reasons, including deformities or visible differences in their eyes, extreme light sensitivity, etc. This has been something that I have started looking into recently- why do so many people who are blind wear sunglasses all of the time? As a blind person myself, there isn’t a rule book that comes to you that tells you how to do things or why other people with visual impairments do things one way. Part of me thinks that a lot of these people with visual impairments who wear sunglasses most of the time also do it so they don’t get so many questions. And I get that.
Today I was extremely tired. I was in pain, had taken medication, had a drink, and went to eat and then to the grocery store. My eyes were extremely light sensitive today and I just didn’t feel like dealing with all of the questions or stares. So on thew ay into the grocery store, I did put on my sunglasses. It felt a little awkward at first, but then it became pretty natural and peaceful. Within minutes of walking in the store (my boyfriend was a little behind getting a cart), several employees came up to me asking if I needed help. NEVER ONCE have they come up to me asking if I needed help when I didn’t wear sunglasses. People were a lot more willing to get out of our way, they didn’t jump in between Steven and I, they didn’t shove, etc. It was a completely different experience – just because I was wearing sunglasses and therefore they couldn’t see my eyes, and I fit more closely their perception of what “blind people look like.” This was so fascinating to me.
So back to the RP Truth, I don’t wear sunglasses (on my head or on my eyes) as a fashion statement. My sunglasses are actually very helpful.