Tag Archives: Senses

Can sight be a hindrance?

As practical as I can imagine being sighted must be I sometimes think sight can be a very big obstacle.

I was discussing a new type of vegetable pasta with a friend of mine and told her how much I liked it, because it didn’t drop my blood sugar levels the way regular pasta does. Especially white pasta. It even tasted like regular pasta. Her reaction was quite funny. She started lecturing me about how stupid the advert was and that she wasn’t tempted to try it at all because of it. Besides, the pasta was different colours because they had different vegetables inside them.

What surprised me, was that just from seeing, the pasta had put her off. I also thought that pasta came in different colours, because I’ve seen that in Italy. But that’s beside the point. The conversation taught me just how quickly sighted people use their sight to judge and that’s sad.

Sight is a remote way of perceiving the world around you, meaning that there’s no need to get up close with objects or food to get a rough idea of what they are. But the key for me here is remote. You’re not up close and personal with what you see, well not always anyway. So if you see something new, you can’t really know what the object is like.

Food is a great example of this. I used to waitress in Dans Le Noir in London. A restaurant where diners eat and drink in the dark, not knowing what they are eating and drinking. One thing a lot of customers said when they came out after their meal and was told what they had consumed and saw pictures of it was: “I’m glad I didn’t know what it was, or saw it, because I probably wouldn’t have chosen it. But it tasted divine.” That tells me sight is a weak sense. But unfortunately a weak sense that has taken over most sighted people’s lives and dulled their other senses.

Sighted people also judge people faster and sometimes on unfair grounds. Blind people do this too, but usually based on more than just appearance.

One time for instance, I was going out to meet my class mates in St Helier, the capital of Jersey where I went to summer school to improve my English. I was sixteen and my host family was scared to let me go on the bus by myself, but they couldn’t exactly force me to stay in.

My bus came in a little earlier than the other girls busses. I decided to cross the road to the point where I was meeting them, but I missed the crossing. And before I knew it, I had three Jersey skater boys offering me a hand. We had been warned not to mix with, or date the locals. Apparently Jersey girls hated Scandinavians, claiming that they stole their boys, and there had been some ugly cat fights, so when a couple of the other girls stepped off their bus and saw me with the boys, they came running and out of breath asked me if they had done something to hurt me. In fact, the boys had been extremely polite and well behaved, but apparently they looked a little trashy. Perhaps if I’d been sighted, I’d not been so nice to them.

So here’s a challenge for my sighted readers. Next time you’re in a new place, close your eyes and experience the place for a few minutes without sight. Do you notice something you didn’t when your eyes were open? Do you smell, hear and feel things you didn’t realize were around you? This is also good to do in a familiar place, like your favourite café.

I always joke that if I get to see one day, I’ll be a ninja, because all my senses will be so well developed. Just imagine how much richer your world would be if all your senses played as big a role in your life as sight. I personally think it would be pretty awesome.

Valid taste

It was when I was a bible study group leader in London. Us leaders where having a meeting to discuss how our groups went and seeing as we were a bunch of young women, we talked about all sorts of irrelevant things as well. “I had a dream about you,” one of the girls said. “Ok?” I was naturally curious, and wanted to know what the dream involved. “You had been healed and got your sight back.” She began. “And a few days later, you showed up at church and you’d had a complete makeover.” I was fine with the dream so far. It was, afterall a dream. “How did I look?” I asked intrigued. “First of all, you had straightened your hair and cut it Rihanna style.” I drew my fingers through my long curly hair and laughed a little. “And my clothes” “they were completely different and you were wearing different make-up. Oh and your hair was Rihanna’s red colour too.” “That’s funny.” I smiled. “Do you know what Linn?” she said suddenly. “I don’t think you would look the way you do if you could see.” “What do you mean?” I asked the smile dying on my lips. “I just think you’d look different.” “How do you mean different?” You would maybe straighten your hair,” “I like my curls, always have,” I interrupted. “I think your style would be totally different too,” she went on. “Is there something wrong with the way I look now?” I asked feeling simultaneously insecure and quite angry because I thought she was being indirectly rude. “Because even though you may not think so, I have certain tastes and I am aware of what I like and fashion in general.” “Well, I just think your taste might be different.” I can’t remember whether the conversation continued after this, but I was a little upset and felt that people assumed I dressed and looked how I did because someone else told me it was nice. Sure, I got some help with finding matching colours while shopping, but I chose the kind of clothes I wanted and because my mum spent a lot of time straightening my hair when I was younger, I knew that I preferred my hair curly both because it was easier and I felt better with my hair curly. I also happen too have a rare hair colour and my hair has both got a little red plus honey yellow in it, making it shine like gold when the sun’s shining on it and I have been asked how much I paid for that colour, so apart from one year in highschool, I haven’t wanted to colour my hair.

My taste in men believe it or not, was also challenged once by a former friend. Our friendship is unfortunately over, but not because of this issue. I have always been more attracted to Caribbean, Latin American and Southern European men, not in that order, but equally. I don’t know exactly why, but those are the type I tend to fall for. I like those cultures too, though I think the primary reason I’m attracted to men from those parts of the world more than others, have something to do with types of voice, how they tend to smell and how they behave. Smell and hearing, that’s too senses which determines how I find them attractive. But according to my friend, I would probably be more attracted to guys who look more like me, blond hair and blue eyes, if I could see. “Because that’s how it is. It’s scientifically proven that people who look alike are more started to each other,” she said.Sight, that’s only one sense to determine initial attraction. So wouldn’t my two senses technically be more reliable?

The point is, that I, as a blind person have my tastes exactly how a sighted person has his or her taste. Our tastes are shaped by both our personality and our environment. That is as true for me as it is for someone who can see. And what if I got to see one day and my tastes stayed exactly the same? I would still love dressing in a variety of colours like I do now and wear jewelry. I probably wouldn’t use so much make-up, because I don’t like the sensation on my skin plus the less foundation I use, the better my skin keeps. And what if I remain blind, can my taste change? Of course. Taste changes all the time. Without sight necessarily needing to play a part.