Stereotypes are bizarre right? And if you have been blind longer than a day you know what I’m talking about. As a young twenty-something, I learned this the hard way when it came to dating.
My first experience was when I was hanging out with this good-looking guy. We got along great so naturally, I thought a relationship could happen. Man, was I wrong! As soon as it came out of my mouth he turned me down flat and was rude enough to tell me why–because I’m blind! WTF?!?
Rejection is a tough thing for a young lady to swallow. Especially not knowing any other blind women in my life. If I could go back and talk to me then I would say “find yourself a role model.” I wish I could say it got better as I got older but no.
Now anyone who knows me knows I am a confident person for the most part. I’m outgoing and make friends easily but rejection isn’t easy for anyone.
Rejection Of A Different Kind
Fast forward about ten years later. Married, baby, then divorced and several hundred miles away from family. Talk about putting on your big girl panties… And I thought my struggle was real when I was younger and by myself. haha!
Dating was a little different but still the same. Now I just do it online. Online dating is a beast of its own and has good and bad qualities. But here we go again and how do I tell them I’m blind?
Tip: when meeting people online, meet in an area that you are conformable with and know how to get around. In case you need to run away. lol
This time around I was rejected for having a kid, being divorced, my crazy friends and then it happened: The “you’re blind.”
After two or three of these incidences I went on a rant to a friend of mine. He told me that “blindness and beauty didn’t go together.” His words floored me. Was he right?
Now with my normal overthinking, it came to my attention that disabilities in general, are considered to be an ugly thing. I think this is one of my biggest reasons for loving Mary Kay. Even though Mary Kay is a part of the beauty industry, I learned at my first event the company appreciates all shapes, sizes, and disabilities.
But here are some things I learned from those interesting dating experiences.
When you are rejected because of your blindness it says more about them than it does you. You can look at it like you dodged a bullet too! lol
Taking selfies for your online dating profile is tough and it takes a lot of practice.
There is someone out there who will accept you for you. Pre-warning: you might have to kiss a few frogs to find them though. lol Lord knows I did.
Society’s truth is not your truth.
You are amazing just the way you are. Each person is a little wrong in all the right ways. So stay true to you.
Final Words Of Wisdom
Now if you’re single, put on your confidence, a dash of sex appeal, and be a little wrong in your right way.
It has taken me over twenty years to come to the realization that I love being wrong in all the right ways. So if it takes you some time to realize your awesomeness it’s all good. There is a whole other world waiting for you on the other side.
Featured Image Description
Two birds are huddled together on a tree branch looking lovey dovey.
The first image is a younger Amy with a big smile on her face. She is wearing a denim jacket and a silver statement necklace.
Sweet photo of Amy hugging her son, both of them smiling and wearing jackets.
As usual, you can find me on Facebook or join my Facebook group:
Beauty is something that each of us has whether we can see it or not. I was always told I am beautiful inside. However, I wanted to make my outside match my inside which is where my love of beauty was born. Many people who are visually impaired or legally blind may have the same issue.
The beauty community online and in stores are not very accessible to those who have trouble seeing. This is where I came up with the idea to help make beauty accessible by teaching people how to use various affordable products whether they can see or not. I have a dream of making beauty accessible for everyone! I try to do that on my YouTube channel Blind Beauty.
Blind Beauty 54 Featured Image Description:
Featured image is a new faux fashion magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Jennifer’s image on the cover is black & white. She’s looking fabulous in a v-neck top, with her makeup on and her shoulder-length dark hair frames her pretty face.
Blocks of text superimposed on Jennifer’s photo are: “Bold–She Keeps Pressing Onward, Blind–She Has Deeper Insight, Beautiful–She Sees To The Heart Of Others.” “Real Beauty Transcends Barriers.” “Makeup Trends for 2019–How To Maintain A Flawless Look”
Jennifer Bailey Image Description:
In this color photo of Jennifer, she is smiling for the camera wearing a coral v-neck top.
When I was first diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) at the age of 19 was a very pivotal point in my life. I was already studying at art college and had just been offered a university place on a figurative sculpture degree course. With only 28 offers in Europe, was one of those 28.
After extensive tests, I just remember the words “you are going to go blind.” My world just shattered, the room spun and I just had to get out of there. I drove home and dropped off my mum and then drove off. Ending up on the beach, I sat on the end of the jetty. The sky was grey and the wind was howling, I just cried, and thought the tears would never stop.
That was 24 years ago and my sight loss has taken me on one heck of a journey. I was registered legally blind back in 2002. Currently, I have between 3-5% residual vision, this is hand movement in the left eye and shapes and light in the right.
Although I had to walk away from university I could not deny that sculpture was in my veins. After taking some time to adjust to my new circumstances, picked up a chisel and mallet and begin creating. This was really for therapeutic reasons at first but then I began to put my work into local galleries. In a short amount of time, I was gaining private commission work. Since then my work has gone from strength to strength. I’ve worked in teaching for many years and this was a nice way to diversify my artistic skills and share them with others.
Turning The Corner
My personal epiphany with my attitude towards my sight loss came only 3 and a half years ago. I had always dodged the need to use a long cane. For years organizations tried to introduce me to using a cane without success. Then about 5 years ago I had a very big wake up call.
I was out walking my little Westie dog. It was November and the autumn sun was very low in the morning sky. I had on my sunglasses but it was very difficult to see and I misjudged a left turn. Instead of turning onto the pathway leading to the park, I fell 6ft into a culvert.
The fall damaged my right knee severely, tearing my inside medial ligament. It was extremely painful and I could not walk and it took 3 months to properly heal. This was when I decided I could no longer keep on struggling without a mobility aid.
Initially, I thought perhaps I needed a Guide dog so I contacted my local Guide Dogs Association. After some initial training, I had to stop my application, when we realized our Westie would never let another dog in the house! So there was no other option for me than to bite the bullet and learn how to use the long cane.
After 3 months of long cane training with my incredible trainer, I passed and became a proficient cane user. I now have gone from a cane hater to a cane lover, owning 4 long canes including my faithful purple one and a bamboo one that I created myself.
Crucial Component To Acceptance
Self-development has played a very important part in my acceptance of my sight loss. I worked very hard with my holistic counselor. For nearly 4 years we worked on my self-worth, learning how to love myself, and embracing every part of myself. It’s been the most wonderful journey, connecting on a spiritual level feeds me with all I need. This is the very reason why I am where I am today, through an acceptance of who I really am and a love of all my imperfections. It is truly a beautiful lesson, and I look forward to all the future lessons ahead.
I am happily married to my husband, who is an incredible support, he has such a positive outlook on life and helps me find solutions to how I can continue breaking boundaries. My parents have always been there for me, providing practical help and support throughout this journey.
True Work/Life Harmony
My work has been my source of connection to my inner self. It has seen me through some very tough times and has brought me the success I now enjoy today. My work is symbolic, based on form and shape and I use piercings in many of my pieces–I create my sculpture from wood and I like to suspend gemstones.
I have exhibited all over the South East of the UK, including central London, the Houses Of Parliament and America Square. Also, I have been featured by the BBC and in many national magazines; my work is owned internationally.
A national gallery is reviewing my Blind A Sixth Sense exhibition for inclusion in their exhibition programme for 2020-2021. This exhibition explored a unique concept of placing 6 sculpted pieces depicting the senses into a pitch black gallery space. The public was invited to interpret the work by using their other senses. This was an incredible success seeing over 500 people visit the exhibition and a sell out on work.
Sight Loss Change Agent
As an Ambassador for the national charity Retina UK, I advocate the work of the charity. This includes social media, public speaking and offering support to those newly diagnosed with RP. This advocacy work is very dear to my heart. I want to offer help to those who may be struggling with their sight loss by helping them navigate their own pathway through this very life-changing time.
I share my experience of sight loss through public speaking, exhibiting my work and will be writing my memoirs later this year. I’m also designing a new website which will act as a central hub for those with sight loss. It will be a place where the blind and VI community can connect, share stories, and support one another.
The website will also highlight all of my activities, including my career as a professional sculptor, public speaking and my Ambassador work. I will share all of my other loves, this includes surfing, something that I learnt only 4 years ago. Surfing is one of the most freeing activities I’ve ever done. There are no obstacles in the ocean and the feeling of connection to the force of mother nature as you ride a wave is just incredible. I’m also a keen skateboarder, and again, like surfing it gives me such a sense of freedom. I use my long cane out in front of me in my left hand, this helps me navigate. I am learning to snowboard too, I think the board sports give me such joy.
I’ve been a musician for over 20 years, singing and playing in many bands as well as solo work. I love to write new material on my piano, it’s a beautiful form of expression.
I feel so very blessed to have found a sense of freedom within the acceptance of my sight loss. This acceptance has shown me the beauty within blindness–a sense of stillness, a sensory experience that you cannot gain when sighted. A connection to one’s own trust, this trust is what will open you to all possibilities.
I have learnt that blindness is not to be feared, it is to be embraced wholeheartedly, through acceptance, adaptivity, and accessibility. You can live a life that is full, joyous, successful and incredibly meaningful, with limitless potential.
Freedom In Acceptance Featured Image Description
In this photo, Victoria is stunning as she stands facing the camera with her bamboo long cane. She is wearing a beautiful cream lace dress and her straight blond hair frames her face.
Victoria & The Guardian. In this photo, Victoria, in a purple sleeveless sheath dress and matching long cane is posing with her sculpture, The Guardian. The Guardian is a wooden sculpture of a vertical wing. The photo was taken at the FLY Freedom In Acceptance exhibition in central London.
Shaded of Lillies is a lovely wooden tactile tabletop delight. Three graceful flowers, from light to dark shades stand atop a light wooden base. The slender stems of the flowers ever so slightly bend upward to the floral base which resembles raised cupped hands.
Surf, Sand And Spirit. This piece depicts a symbolic upright surfboard with an amber suspension hanging from the piercing. The base represents the ripples that form in wet sand, this piece is created from alder wood and oak wood.
Victoria Surfing: An action shot of Victoria riding a wave on her surfboard in a wetsuit.
It seems like it’s been ages since I’ve written anything for Bold Blind Beauty. I’ve been so consumed with all the other aspects of this site it’s been overwhelming. Things like updating policies, products, and people to feature, have taken so much time my choices are limited.
One of the things I seldom talk about is how I adjusted to living with blindness. Next month will be 10 years since I gave up driving and began adapting to losing some of my independence. During that time my left eye was unusable and my “good” right eye had these massive floaters.
I used to think floaters were these tiny specks that I’ve had for as long as I can remember. As a high myope (severely nearsighted) I remember seeing my first floaters when was very young. But the ones I had 10 years ago were different. They were solid black clouds that constantly moved to obscure everything in my line of sight. Imagine driving and suddenly you’re unable to see street signs, traffic lights, people, and vehicles on the road–it’s scary.
After I stopped driving I’d have to wait until January 2009 for what would be my last vitrectomy (macular hole surgery). During a vitrectomy, a gas bubble is injected into the eye. This particular surgery was a little different because my surgeon was going to remove those annoying floaters as well.
Seeing Yet Not Fully Sighted
Veering off topic for a minute, if you’ve never held your head in a downward position for 4 weeks or more, you haven’t lived. Yes, this was what I had to do each time I had a vitrectomy. And let me tell you the first few days after each surgery my neck was on fire. I had to do this on four separate occasions and each time I was ALL IN.
To help people understand what it might feel like to be blind there are various simulations from blindfolds to special eyeglasses. If I could point to one experience that prepared me for blindness it would be vitrectomy recovery. While I could see peripherally and downward, being unable to look up when I went for follow-up appointments was a strange feeling. Sort of like ‘you can see, but you can’t.’
Anyway, during this last recovery period, my retina specialist found a leaky blood vessel at the back of my right eye. Though an injection of Avastin stopped the bleeding, I’d find out later I was legally blind.
Too Blind To Be Sighted
To this day, none of my doctors can explain how the first macular hole evolved into the series of issues that stole my sight. Back when it all began the possibility of me ending up where I am today was highly unlikely. Going from healthy eyes to glaucoma, a torn retina, cataracts, uveitis, and blindness still seems like a dream. Yet each day I awaken I know it’s real.
My blindness is the reason why I advocate for inclusion, accessibility, and equity. No one can know what going blind feels like until you’ve experienced it first-hand. Even then, when one or more of us share the same condition our sight is different for each of us.
The one thing this whole experience has taught me is to be more open-minded. I realize I know so much less than what I thought I knew and I’m learning more every day. There are so many conditions people live with and there really is no room for assumptions.
I am blind and I look like I can see. It isn’t easy being too sighted to be blind yet too blind to be sighted. Even so, I will continue breaking down barriers in the hopes for a judgment-free world. One where blind and visually impaired individuals are doing what they love and are equally represented in all areas of life.
Featured Image Description:
In this three-quarter profile shot, I’m wearing a teal colored sleeveless sporty dress with a hoodie. It looks great with my Bold Blind Beauty braille teal wristband. Photo credit: Jana N. Williams Photography
I posed with my “gold” white cane and wore a black tee with a white tote bag. The tee has an image of fashion icon Abby. To the right of Abby is a checklist Handbag, Heels, White Cane and directly under her and the checklist is the slogan: “Ready to Conquer.” The bag has black handles, features Abby, and say “Hey I’m Walkin’ Here!” Abby is front and center above the slogan
In this picture, I’m standing in front of a gorgeous red door at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Pittsburgh. Since there was a wedding in progress we couldn’t get any shots in front of the building so we found this magnificent red door with these tactile black knobs.
The mug’s design includes fashion icon, Abby (in trio format) who are to the right of the handle. Directly under the trio is the slogan: “Blind Chicks With ATTITUDE.” To the left of the handle, the slogan is tactile braille.