When I Look in the Mirror…: Blindness and Body Image

Today, Finish the Sentence Friday’s starter sentence is: “When I look in the mirror, I see…”. Now I could easily respond that I’m blind so I don’t see anything in the mirror. That would however be feeding a common misconception, that is, that blind people don’t have body image issues because they can’t see what they look like in the mirror. Some people even go so far as to assume blind people can’t have eating disorders for this reason. First of all, of course, not all eating disorders are about body image. However, let me tell you, I know several blind people with anorexia, which is in part about body image.

The relationship between my blindness and my body image is however quite complicated. I can’t say there is no relationship, because there is. For example, I gained over 40lbs in the last four years. I know this because people tell me the number on the scale. However, I haven’t tried this but I’m pretty sure that if I had to estimate my size, I would be far off and see myself as far thinner than I am. I do obviously feel my body and I use my hands to measure it. That’s gotten harder as I’ve become bigger, but I don’t notice it as much as someone would by looking in the mirror. I don’t exactly see myself as skinny, in that I know I’m quite fat, but I do often have a hard time reconciling the numbers on the scale with how I feel like I look.

This may seem weird, because I do have a negative image of my body’s shape and size. I hate the fact that I’m fat. When I notice clothing getting tighter, I feel pretty awful about myself. I’ve said that I should weigh half as much as I do now (which would put me in the underweight range). That being said, I play these mind tricks where I allow myself to gain weight despite wanting to lose it. Like, I’ve gotten this insane kind of logic where I’m at a good weight if halving it would put me in the anorexic range. I got it from a Dutch book called something like “How I halved myself and won the battle against anorexia again”.

There are other aspects to body image of course. People who estimate my age by looking at my face, usually think I’m quite a bit older than I am. I can feel the tiny wrinkles on my face, of course, if I really attend to them. That in turn makes them feel a lot larger than my husband says they are – he actually says I don’t have wrinkles at all. However, again, in my mind I still see myself as looking like a teenager.

The last time I had some vision of what I looked like, I was about thirteen. In this light, it makes sense that I am stuck on the image of myself as a teenager. It’s not just my body image though. I still see myself as somewhat like a teenager in many ways. That could be my autistic difficulty adjusting to change applied to myself.

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17 thoughts on “When I Look in the Mirror…: Blindness and Body Image

      1. Well I’m not one to take lots of care for my appearance, but some blind people do. I once heard from a blogger friend of mine that someone she knew is blind and a fashion blogger. Re body image, that can of course be affected by the way you feel your body, as I described.


  1. I loved reading this. Thanks for sharing your journey- it’s definitely not easy to talk about our body issues on the net, but words of wisdom like this can help us overcome these issues together. And, I haven’t met you, and I guarantee you are gorgeous at every size!

    amanda from kindofmind.net


  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights on this topic. It’s too easy for people to make judgements and assumptions without adding blindness into the equation. I can imagine the frustration those comments must cause you. Body image is something so many of us struggle with at different times in our lives and I applaud you for speaking up about it.


  3. Very interesting. Body image and dissatisfaction is almost universal among all women of every age. A sad state of our society. If we could just live without mirrors and judgment and relate to the world by how we think and feel, like would be better.


  4. This is really interesting. I guess I would have assumed that blind people wouldn’t have the same body image issues but when I think about that, why wouldn’t they? Society is so focused on youth and being thin… I like what Val said, too, about how much better the world would be if we could relate to it by how we think and feel.


  5. Body image is body perception. This post came as no surprise to me because image is all about perception no matter how one’s body is perceived.


  6. I don’t think there’s a specific ‘anorexic range’ of weight, because I know there are many people who have restrictive eating disorders who are nowhere near a ‘skinny’ weight. That said, I can understand it must be difficult to tally self-image as given by the mind’s eye, with a reality measured by hands or dress-sizes. I struggle the opposite direction with that, and I would assume both are as complex and difficult as each other.

    I’m just terribly thankful I’m NOT stuck at the version of myself I was at 13.

    I hope your husband gives you wonderful feedback on how he experiences you, no matter your own view of yourself.


  7. Thank you for being so open with your world, again. I learn from your blogs each time. The book you mentioned – “How I halved myself and won the battle against anorexia again” – I wonder if it is available in English. I would be interested in that. Hmm


  8. Wow. This was an amazing post. Thank you for sharing your unique perspective on this topic. I am blown away by your objectivity. And I realized that I haven’t considered what it must be like to not have seen yourself ever or since you were a teenager. Your words and the humbled way in which you expressed them is going to resonate with me for a long time, I believe.


  9. What a truly new way of approaching the prompt! Thanks you for providing a fascinating and honest ending to the sentence, and sharing a worldview to which I wouldn’t otherwise be exposed. I hope that you come back to FTSF and bring your “vision” of life as a blind blogger with you!! I’ll enjoy reading your work.


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