How to put on liptstick when you’re blind

My post last Monday let you know that my Seeing Eye dog Whitney “passed the test” on our first classroom visit of the new school year, but it didn’t let you in on what went on during that presentation.

And so, here goes.

I started our presentation at Wilmot Elementary School by showing the kids how I put lipstick on without looking in a mirror.

And then…showtime!

At Wilmot School, in Deerfield, IL

I explained the three rules Wilmot students should keep in mind if they happen to see a guide dog with a harness on: don’t pet the dog, don’t feed the dog, and don’t call out the dog’s name. “Those things can distract a Seeing Eye dog,” I told them. “It’d be like if someone nudged you or kept calling your name while you were working on your spelling words at school. You wouldn’t be able to concentrate on your work.”

I suggested we come up with a fake name for Whitney. “We’re going to be here at your school for a while today, and you might want to say hello if you see us in the hallway,” I said, explaining that if they use my Seeing Eye dog’s fake name to say hello, Whitney wouldn’t look their way and get distracted from her work — she wouldn’t realize they were talking to her.

I asked the kids what their principal’s name was. “Mrs. Brett!” they called out. “Does anyone know Mrs. Brett’s first name?” I asked. After a moment of silence, one sweet little voice rang out. “I do! It’s Eileen.” And so, it was agreed. The kids would call Whitney by her code name on Friday: Eileen.

Most of the questions during the Q&A part of the session had more to do with blindness than dogs:

  • How do you cook?
  • How do you drive?
  • How do you read your text messages?
  • If your dog dies, how will you get anywhere?
  • Do you ever even get into a car?
  • How do you put your makeup on?

The most poignant question, of course, was the one about what happens when a Seeing Eye dog dies. I talked a bit about grief, and then moved on to what it’s like to train with a new Seeing Eye dog.

My favorite question of the day was that last one. “The only makeup I wear is lipstick,” I told them, letting them know how flattered I was that they’d asked. I must be stylin’.

Okay, okay. Your blind fashionista knows you’re wondering: take the top off the lipstick tube, place the open end on your bottom lip and turn the knob until you feel the lipstick just starting to emerge from the tube. Run the lipstick across the lower lip only, then press your lips together to add color to the top. Voila!


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