Do you Find Fingering your Make-up Helpful?

There was a time when I primped each morning in front of the mirror. Make-up brushes, pallets, creams, glosses splayed across the vanity in a rainbow. My attire for the day determined what shades adorned my face. It was fun and exciting. Now, nearly 40, a mother of two young children, I opt for the most convenient routine, which usually excludes make-up. I’m a stay-at-home parent who works from home. Yoga pants, hair in pony and zero make-up are my usual look these days. However, there’s an even bigger reason why make-up has become more of an acquaintance than close chum. In my early 20s, I became blind. Several simultaneous illnesses narrowed my senses down to four. I’ve adjusted, grown and moved on. In my experience, I do little differently to navigate the world nonvisually than I did visually, and I didn’t lose my interest in fashion or make-up. There’s still a calming quality to shopping for the latest trends. But my days perusing the make-up aisle, fixating mostly on pink and purple shades, and flipping through the recent issue of fashion mags, studying the latest trends seems over for the moment. And not because I’m blind, but because the fashion world rarely considers disability. And on the occasion it does, it forgets to include blind people. Perhaps worse, the manufacturers who apparently do not think a blind person wants to use its products. Fingering rouges and eye shadow pallets and tubes of gloss do not inform me about color or tint. Descriptions do little to enlighten. What is Passion floral? Or Electric burst? And even when an actual color is given—scarlet, indigo, grey—this does not necessarily tell me what shade within its color gradation it is. Illustrations and photos demonstrating technique are silent. The silence is subtext indicating to me that my needs do not matter. Videos are potentially more helpful, but it depends on how descriptive the person demonstrating is. Especially if you’re new to make-up or a specific technique; especially if you’ve never experienced it visually. Watching shows like E News, I hope to gain a little knowledge. But with descriptions like, “And just line like this,” or, “And then add a touch just here,” I walk away with little understanding. I have a visual reference to the world. I understand gesture, color, visual description, but when the description is lacking or nonexistent, it does little to include a woman who still revels in a made-up face. And it does little to include someone with no visual reference to the world. Having no visual experience does not equate to not caring about exterior attributes. Inclusion and diversity are hot topics these days, and they should be. But disability needs to be a part of the equation. And actual disabled people need to be consulted, allowing our voices to be heard. Fashion is trivial compared to most things, but if the fashion world doesn’t care to include disability, what chance do we have that any other aspect of the world will care? I love that fashion is beginning to include my nearly 40-year-old, mother of two body. There’s a small crack in the door showing another perspective of beauty. Demonstrating that beauty doesn’t have to look and act a certain way. But when does the blind person in me get to feel included? When do I get to act like the late 30-something I am and not have to constantly ask for help shopping for make-up and clothes? When do I get to stand in the make-up aisle again, spending far longer than I should, mesmerized by the colorful options surrounding me? Finger’s gliding over Braille descriptions, or scanning a bar code on an app on my phone and reading detailed descriptions via Voiceover. I’m tired of being dismissed. Worse, I’m tired of not being considered to begin with. I’m tired of writing about issues like this in an attempt to shift cultural norms. I didn’t change when I became blind; I wish the world would understand that. Instead of assuming what my needs are, what my interests are, ask. Then, let’s work towards meeting all needs, not just a few.

By LitMommy

Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter is a mom and writer from Omaha, Nebraska but recently relocated to Urbandale, IA. When she’s not chasing children, picking up messes or reorganizing the house, she enjoys yoga or reading to relax. In her spare time (A.K.A. her dreams) she’s a Broadway star. Kuenning-Pollpeter is a freelance marketer during the day, a creative writer at night. Her work has appeared in the Brevity blog, The Omaha World Herald, 13th Floor, Misbehaving Nebraskans, Hippocampus, Emerging Nebraska Writers and Random Sample Review. She has her BFA and MFA in writing from the University of Nebraska Omaha. Her essay “The Body” was a McKenna Fellowship finalist, and her essay “Imperfection” was a 2020 Best of the Net Nominee. She is blind and writes frequently about disability. She’s working on a memoir about the disabled feminine experience. With the kids though, expect it in stores in about a decade.

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