Should I tell her she has a spot on her blouse? Should I say anything about the dirt on her coat sleeve? I dont want to offend her, but she might not know its there. If I were blind, would I want someone to tell me that my clothes werent spotless:? Would I be embarrassed? I dont want to embarrass her. What should I do?
Lets say youre having lunch with a friend, and you notice he got a little mustard on his chin. Wouldnt you discretely let him know, so he wouldnt walk around all day with a yellow spot on his face? Wouldnt you want someone to do the same for you?
As a totally blind person, I have to make a conscious effort to have a sighted person go through my clothes periodically to check for spots, frayed seams, or if something is just plain out of date. Buying new clothes constantly would solve that problem, but it would cause another one, with my bank account. Sometimes, theres a shirt or a dress that Ive had for years and just love, but nobody wears that style anymore. I need to be told.
When I was working in an office, back in the days when I was the director of volunteers at the radio reading service, I was extremely grateful to one volunteer who let me know privately that there was a spot on my white shirt. She had been a teacher of blind children, so she was comfortable doing so, but not everybody is. Thats why Im giving you permission to say something like, Oh, it looks like you got a spot on your sleeve. If you have some spot remover, I can treat it for you.
Letting someone know that her hair style, dress, or shoe style is out of date requires a bit more tact. Maybe she doesnt care if her shoes arent stylish. She may prefer comfort over looks. But just in case she really is unaware that people arent wearing these things anymore, you might say, I saw the cutest shoes at the store yesterday. Everybody is wearing them these days. If you said that to me, my ears would perk up, and Id beg you to take me to that store and show me. Most of the blind people I know would agree that its important to know that their clothes and hair look presentable, clean, and attractive. Even if we cant see them ourselves, we still want to make a good appearance. In fact, its even more important to us, because we dont want people thinking we dont care, because were blind. We like to wear colors that go well together, lipstick that is the right shade, socks that match, or a tie that doesnt have yesterdays lunch on it. If you can tell him, or her, before she leaves the house, she can change into something clean, but if you notice it while youre out together, tell her as soon as you notice it. She might be able to hide it with her purse or use a little packaged wipe, just for such occasions. You may feel awkward, but believe me, shell be grateful for your honesty.