I was 14 years old when I was diagnosed with RP. It affected me in some ways, but it mostly didn’t affect me. Sure, having those panic attacks when I went from light to dark/dark to light situations SUCKED as did the many doctors appointments, nurses office visits, and trips to the Emergency Room until we figured out what was “wrong,”.. but other than that, I didn’t really care that I had this disease that would likely one day lead to blindness.. I was a 14 year old, 8th grade student. Now, mind you I had already lost a good chunk of my vision – I think I was between 40 and 60 degrees (normal is 180). But that was just normal to me.
And I consider THAT (40 degrees) REALLY sighted. There are things that I wish I had learned in those years when I had a lot of sight, or even the several years after when I still had a fair amount of sight.
Makeup and hair is one of the big ones and has always been a weakness point for me. I was a tomboy.. I wore big shirts and loose jeans.. I didn’t really care about makeup (AT ALL), nor hair (AT ALL). And over the next many years when I DID decide to want to try and get into it, everybody was already good at it so I most of the time just gave up. Or I got lazy and didn’t want to spend the time doing it. Every couple years I go through this phase of really caring, and then something discourages me again. Now, I’m 25 years old, with a full-time job, and I don’t have the “girly” skills I wish I had, and it’s REALLY challenging for me to learn with very little sight. It’s so frustrating.. something I don’t think anybody can really understand.
The breaking point was a few years ago.. right after I got Makiko, my class presented me with a big black bean bag. A friend (at the time) sent me the pictures of the event and I was like Oh.. My.. GOSH my hair is HORRIBLE. I then asked her if my hair is always like this and she had some pretty nasty things to say.. to this DAY, that still hurts me really bad.
So I’m back to full-force trying again. I got a really cute haircut at Ulta and the stylist, Eden, spent a lot of time with me actually showing me different things so that I understood it. She talked it through and she tried to accommodate my disability in explaining everything the best possible. We were her first blind customer. So I tried to style it myself tonight, following her instructions, and it came out how I wanted it. What a relief.. now it takes a little longer in the evenings but if it makes me feel GOOD about myself, why not, right? 🙂
Makeup is also something I’m working on. A few years ago a fellow friend with a disability showed me how to put on makeup, or more tricks on how to put on makeup. My mom and sister have also helped in this area. So since then, I have just been playing with it. But the thing is – how does a person who can barely see anything, know how it is “supposed to look,” or know ‘the trends?” This stuff is frustrating, hah. However, my sister recently suggested that I try this eyeshadow crayon, which I really like. I don’t have to worry about that tiny brush and missing spots.. this gets a lot of coverage. I know how to do eyeliner (top is a heck of a lot easier than bottom) and mascara – those aren’t hard.. the hard part for me has always been the eye shadow and sometimes I have fights with the eyeliner.
So we’re getting there. But here’s another worry of mine – if I suddenly start wearing makeup again after over a year at my job without much makeup, what will their reaction be? Now, I can hear some of you all saying – don’t worry about what they say, it’s how you feel – but I DO worry about what they are going to say and think, but obviously not enough.
I want to continue to learn how to do makeup and hair. This is one of the posts that I feel I have opened myself up the most with and said what I consider one of my “deep dark secrets,” because this topic really really has bothered me a lot over the years.
There are a few other things that I wish I had learned when I had more sight, but this is the biggest one.