Q: How do blind people experience beauty? What are those experiences guided by?
A: I most often experience beauty through a person’s personality and character traits. I have become so far removed from the concept of physical beauty that it really doesn’t matter to me. I know for a fact that is not true for all blind people. Some are very conscious of their own and others’ physical beauty. If I were to guess why this is, I’d be inclined to believe it’s based on how large a factor physical beauty was to a person before they lost their vision, or how important it is to the people they hang around most, even after going blind. Hollywood portrays this image of blind people possessing the need or interest in feeling other people’s faces. I find it’s rarely the case that a blind person is actually going to come up to you and ask, first thing, to feel your face. It’s weird for me to invade someone’s personal space to that extent and I don’t feel like I’d really get anything meaningful out of doing so. So I just don’t do it.
I’m more interested in knowing someone’s behaviors, attitudes and personal integrity. A person with positive features in these kinds of areas is very beautiful to me, even if they also have big ears, a lot of acne or wear baggy, wrinkly clothing.
Q: Do blind people have certain phobias unique to them?
A: I have a big phobia of bugs, although I had that before I lost my vision. Other than that, I don’t have any phobias. There are certain things that startle me because I don’t see it coming and that can scare me, but not in the sense of a phobia. I get startled if a cat decides to pounce on my foot or jump on my lap with no warning. That obviously startles me, but it’s not a phobia. There are people who, because of a fear of failure or a personal insecurity, act fearful, sometimes even phobic toward trying new things or going to new places.