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Winter 99 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

Being in Style

By Tamee Argo and Doylene Land, Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) , Odessa, Texas
& Lu Cleere, Region 18 Education Service Center, Midland, Texas

For several years the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) and Region 18 ESC envisioned providing make-overs and presenting a style show with students who have visual impairments. We felt this would help them gain confidence in their appearance for the new school year. After many months of planning and obtaining resources, the project finally came together.

Prior to the day of the event, the students, ranging in age from six to eighteen, were taken to purchase the clothes they would choose to model. They were provided a budgeted amount of money to use and were given instruction in matching, accessorizing, and coordinating the outfits. They were encouraged to make their own decisions regarding the clothing they purchased. Outfits ranged from casual active wear to party clothes.

One local beauty salon, Charles and Co., became particularly involved with the project. They were somewhat apprehensive about working with students with visual impairments. After participating in an awareness session on blindness, the manicurists, hair stylists, make-up technicians, and even the owner were excited and more at ease about being involved with the students. Other community involvement included a men's service organization, local department stores, community theatre, shoe-shine shop, photographer, and comedian. Individuals and stores also donated door prizes.

The day of the style show began with the students arriving early at the Midland Hilton. The boys received instruction on shining shoes, shaving, and tying ties. Meanwhile, the girls learned about nail care and colors and make-up techniques. Each student had his or her hair trimmed and styled. A packet of grooming supplies and shoe polish was provided for each one.

After an enjoyable lunch with their friends, activities included learning modeling techniques, presenting themselves before an audience, and facial expressions. Several women from the Permian Playhouse taught the students a short musical routine to be performed at the end of the show.

While parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, and teachers arrived, the students were busy getting dressed in their clothes to model. Anxiety, nervousness, and butterflies became evident in the students as they giggled, laughed, and fidgeted with their new hairstyles and clothes. They began lining up for their walk down the runway as the comedian started the show. Each student had their time in the spotlight to model clothes and show off their new looks. A short description of the students' clothes, extra curricular activities, and music accompanied them. The style show ended with the musical routine previously learned, and glamour photos were taken to remember the event.

From the comments of the students, the style show was a big hit and a successful endeavor. Quotes from the students included, "I always wanted to do something different and the style show gave me this wonderful opportunity", and "I appreciate all the goodies we got so we could try them and maybe buy them." Another student stated, " It was a big reunion, I saw my friends, and we got to eat pizza. It was fun showing off my dress on stage while listening to rock-n-roll music. I love my outfit!" Other comments were, "I enjoyed that my parents were there watching me;" "The fashion show was the best;" "It was an experience we will never forget."

Editor's note: These folks found a great way to address important issues that vision teachers rarely get to in a typical school day. Creative collaboration enabled the students to practice independent living skills such as budgeting, grooming, problem solving, socializing, and career exploration. What a confidence builder!

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Last Revision: September 4, 2003