[nfbwatlk] Questions concerning how people look like

Lauren Merryfield lauren1 at catliness.com
Sat Feb 27 22:47:29 UTC 2010

When Lynden was young she asked me if I felt bad because I couldn't see her. 
I said I didn't.  She said "but you wouldn't be able to pick me out from 
across the room" and I said I could pick out her voice from across the room.

When she was a baby I felt her face but I didn't touch it anymore when she 
was old enough to not like it.  I know she was a pretty girl and is still 
pretty to this day from what others have told me.  But I really didn't have 
to know exactly what Lynden looked like to know that she was 
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Mary Ellen" <gabias at telus.net>
To: "'NFB of Washington Talk Mailing List'" <nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Saturday, February 27, 2010 1:54 PM
Subject: Re: [nfbwatlk] Questions concerning how people look like

> You raise some very interesting questions. Once, when my children were
> little, someone asked me if I felt grief stricken because I could not see
> their faces or really know what they looked like. My initial thought, an
> answer I did not give, is that I really don't care what they look like. 
> That
> isn't strictly true. I care that they look attractive to others. Studies
> have shown that people perceived as good-looking do better in the world 
> than
> people who are not perceived as good-looking. We can argue all we want 
> about
> the unfairness of such outcomes, but they exist and we would be unwise to
> ignore them. Beyond the natural desire of a parent to have children 
> succeed
> and knowing that being physically attractive is helpful in their attempts 
> to
> succeed, I really do not care what they look like. I don't think knowing
> whether someone has a pointy chin or green eyes or red hair tells me
> anything significant about their character. It does tell me something
> significant if they're clearly not physically active or very athletic. 
> Those
> details tell me about their personal habits. The kinds of clothes they
> choose tell me something about their social attitudes. So looks only 
> matter
> to me insofar as they indicate something about behavior or attitude.
> One of the meanings of the word "attractive" is that people are attracted,
> or drawn, to you. We generally use the word to describe something 
> appealing
> about physical appearance. I believe the meaning of "attractive" goes much
> deeper than that.
> I believe attractiveness is related to the whole manner in which a person
> carries him or herself. Physical appearance is part of that; most people 
> get
> their first impression based on what they see. That's why it's important 
> for
> blind people to present an attractive appearance, which means good 
> grooming,
> good manners, the habit of looking at people when talking to them, etc. 
> But
> there are enough songs with titles like "beauty is only skin deep" to
> suggest that a good physical appearance only carries one so far. Without 
> the
> other attributes of attractiveness, such as good character, courtesy,
> generosity of spirit, and a hundred other things, a nice physical 
> appearance
> won't carry the day.
> I believe that, as a blind person, I need to play the physical
> attractiveness game well enough so that my appearance and mannerisms are 
> an
> asset rather than a liability to me. I do not believe I need to feel
> deprived because I can't independently gather information about someone's
> hair color or the shape of their facial structure. Just because the rest 
> of
> society is extremely fascinated by how people look doesn't mean I'm 
> required
> to share that fascination. Let me know what I need to know about how 
> someone
> looks in order to make judgments about their behavior or health. Beyond
> that, I'll listen politely and probably forget anything I'm told.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
> Behalf Of hmp
> Sent: February 25, 2010 5:51 PM
> To: BlindTlk at nfbNet.org
> Cc: hal.grove at gMail.com; nfbWaTlk at nfbnet.org
> Subject: [nfbwatlk] Questions concerning how people look like
>     I'm very sure everyone in this mailing list is blind. Maybe
> some of you are not. And well, I have a curiosity, or a question,
> that maybe you can answer for me and if it is not that
> intimidating:
>     As you know, sighted people tend to look at each other's
> face, or perhaps most of the body movements and the hands, while
> they're talking to each other. For example, when somebody is
> talking and facing another person, that person faces that other
> person, and he or she can look at the person's face. In addition,
> this does not happen when they are talking only; the person can
> just look at that other person, E.G. a boy says "hello" to a girl
> perhaps, and he looks at her because she is pretty (or she
> perhaps isn't) and he looks at her smile and he knows what she
> looks like. He can maybe remember her just through all those
> details of her. Furthermore, there are more case-scenarios out
> there that are very similar to this one.
>     While sighted people do this, as far as blind people are
> concerned, is there any way a blind person can do the same things
> just like the sighted? Can a blind person tell how someone looks
> like by some technique or some information? If I want to know how
> someone looks like, what can I do? Sometimes I think that
> probably by touching faces I can get a general detail of what
> he/she is like, but some people may see this as an offensive
> thing. I have just a little bit of vision (mostly out of the
> corner of my right eye), but I cannot see well enough to see
> these things. I can only see very close objects or people. But
> anyways, if, for example, I meet a nice girl and she says hello
> to me, and she carries out a conversation with me. How can I get
> the physical description of her? How do I know if she is just
> smiling without laughing? How do I know what her hair looks like?
> maybe she has a pointy nose, a big/small mouth, and probably
> really all straight and white teeth! How can I know these things?
> I could perhaps ask her, "What do you look like?" but I've had
> bad experiences asking that question, although some people are
> kind and they tell me. Again, I don't see any bad thing by
> touching people's faces, however, I'm not sure if I should
> totally do it because of an offense or just being disrespectful.
>     I am asking this question just for curiosity, and I'd like
> to see what you think about this. Any feedback and comments about
> this topic are welcome. I'd like to find out what other blind
> people have done to accomplish well this situation.
> Thank you and have a very lucky day!
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