A Life Changing Q&A With Sherry Ingram
You know how you can meet someone for the first time and automatically hit it off? From the moment Sherry Ingram shared her philosophy on beauty and blindness, I knew we would get along. So I asked her if she would be willing to do a Q&A with me for Bold Blind Beauty and she said yes.
Hi Sherry, during our first discussion we agreed that living with blindness isn’t sunshine and roses and we also agreed that prior to sight loss every day wasn’t sunshine and roses.
1. You seem to have struck a healthy balance after your accident and subsequent loss of sight, can you share with us what happened and how you were able to rebound?
Sure, It was 1987 and I was 26 at the time. I won’t bore you with details but I was involved in an accidental shooting and the result was I lost both my eyes. The shock of it is indescribable not to mention the physical injury you go through.
I was extremely lucky in that I was shot from the side of my head by a small-caliber bullet and it passed through both my eyes just millimeters from my brain. I suffered instant blindness but only minimal damage otherwise. I lost some sense of smell and I do have some short-term memory loss at times along with migraines they attribute to it.
My first thoughts were that this can’t be happening to me and there was no way my life could ever be worth anything again. There were those early days of depression over it but I never really felt anger in a heavy way. More frustration than anything.
I was a pretty fun-loving going all the time person before. I began to realize that I had lived through something I probably shouldn’t have and started to think, ok, there must be some reason I’m still here so I began to assess just what I was dealing with and began to want to be able to be independent and do things on my own again.
I decided I wanted a life even though it was going to be a much different one than I was used to. I decided I wanted to learn everything I could about how to be blind and I made that my challenge and started to accept it and recover.
I think realizing the fact that I was still alive, I was able to somewhat diminish the impact of becoming blind. I began to feel it was the lesser of two evils and doable compared to the alternative. This attitude allowed me to rebound and move on with my life.
2. You told me that you believe just because we cannot see doesn’t mean we should let ourselves go. How were you able to adjust to maintaining a nice appearance after the loss of your eyesight?
At first, I felt a loss of my human side and with that my feminine side as well. I felt more like a statistic than a woman, much less an attractive woman as I had felt about myself before when I was sighted.
I enjoyed dressing nicely and doing the things that made people notice me and made me feel good about myself. I had lost that in my mind. I was very self-conscious at first about appearing different to people.
As I went through rehab and training several of my counselors were always alluding to making sure I kept a positive appearance both mentally and physically and that started to ring a bell in my head. I thought, ok if I feel I look nice to others again then my blindness might not be the focus of everyone’s attention.
I will admit it was a defensive move and yet it definitely put me in a better state of mind about how people saw me so I continued to try to better my appearance in every way I was capable as far as dressing in style and coordinating my clothes. Keeping my hair in style. Learning to apply makeup without a mirror (certainly a hit and miss trip at first) and even down to finding nice accessories and a few pairs of stylish sunglasses, not to hide from anything but to protect my face around my eyes if I run into anything and enhance my facial appearance at the same time.
I started getting compliments on how I looked and I could sense they were genuine and not condescending and it made me realize that even though I could not see myself and what I looked like anymore that other people certainly were taking note and in a positive way so that has made me continually strive to keep my appearance in the forefront. It’s so nice and such an ego boost to hear folks compliment me on how I look rather than asking questions about my blindness. It makes for a better day and mood knowing in my mind I look nice to others.
3. Do you have any tips that might benefit some of our blind friends?
I think the best tip I can give is the one I always keep in my mind. Care about yourself! Just because you don’t see yourself doesn’t mean you should not care about how you look because others notice you.
Being a part of the sighted world for 26 years, I’m well aware it’s a visual world and that’s how most impressions are made. When I think in those terms I know I want people to see me in a good way and have a positive impression of me. I think it allows them to relax and interact with me much easier than if I didn’t keep a positive appearance.
4. What is your favorite fashion accessory?
I enjoy going casual anytime I can, but I like some of the following things depending on how dressy I feel I should be. I like simple earrings. Posts, hoops. I will wear pendants and necklaces.
I will sometimes wear a single bracelet on my non-cane arm above my watch. I like colorful scarves. I like my bag to be a crossover strap bag but not too large and smooth, not ornate, just enough to carry my purse and my folded cane and a few items. And I mentioned earlier a nice stylish pair of sunglasses. I prefer the darker lenses rather than partially tinted ones.
5. Do you have a favorite makeup or skincare line that you use?
I like some of the St. Ives skin care products, especially their facial scrubs. I don’t use a lot of makeup on my face but I do like the Revlon products. I use their complexion makeup and the powder blushes mostly. I like neutral color lip gloss. I do very little around or directly with my eyes.
Thank you, Sherry, for sharing your remarkable story of survival, the power of the human will, the importance of feeling good and the role it plays in how we interact with others. You’ve demonstrated so perfectly how life can be treasured and lived well after coming out on the other side of tragedy. I am so blessed to have connected with you and I treasure our newfound friendship.
Image Descriptions With Sherry’s Quotes:
- Several orchids | “I think there are plenty of us who refuse to let our blindness lead us and want people to see us as attractive even sexy women first.”
- Makeup mirror, lipstick & brush | “I’m a firm believer that we should not let our appearance go simply because we don’t see ourselves anymore.”
- Ballerina | “It’s very satisfying to me when I receive compliments on how I look from people. It makes me aware that they notice me for something other than just a blind woman.”