A Look At Not Seeing
Earlier this week I was disturbed to come across an appalling Facebook post on one of my fellow bloggers and friend, Emily Davison, Founder of Fashioneyesta.com. Emily created Fashioneyesta, a fashion, and lifestyle blog, with the following points in mind:
- to provide people who are blind or vision impaired the tools and resources they need to develop their personal style
- to be a voice for people who are blind and vision impaired as it relates to the world of fashion
- to raise awareness on the issue of accessibility for people with disabilities
- to educate the public on vision-related issues
- to address the preconceived myth that people who are blind or vision impaired are unfashionable
The post revolved around a YouTube video of an individual who made some pretty disparaging comments about Emily and her vision loss. I don’t know this individual or what motivated them to make the video (which has subsequently been taken down) but I can tell you this, I refuse to give a bully more air time.
What I can do however is share my thoughts on Emily and people like her who, in the face of adversity, instead of succumbing to life’s challenges they choose to rise above and make a difference. Emily knows firsthand how the beauty and fashion industries ignore people with disabilities as she is losing her vision to a condition called Septo-optic dysplasia, a rare congenital anomaly.
Though Emily’s eye condition has disabled her optic nerves, leaving her with no sight in her right eye and 10 percent central vision in her left, she hasn’t let this deter her passion for fashion. In spite of the prevalent assumption that people with vision loss do not care about their appearance which in turn leads a lack of products and services targeting our specific needs, people like Emily and many others continue to squash these faulty notions.
A Glimpse Into The Gray
Blindness is not black and white.
I used to think that when a person used a white cane, that meant they were totally blind (no light perception). I was wrong.
The range of vision loss is so enormous and differs so greatly from one person to the next that there really is an immense gray area. Imagine yourself in a dense fog with visibility being only a couple of inches in front of your face. Your equilibrium is off and your steps unsure. Though over time you adjust to the fog, it never lifts.
Once you acknowledge that the fog is not going to dissipate you find a way to move through it by learning new techniques. Though it takes time and patience you gradually adapt until you become adept at navigating through the fog.
It’s such a heavy feeling this fog, you feel claustrophobic. Stumble, fall, repeat, it’s unending and you wish it would just go away. You wake with it, you go to sleep with it and in between waking and sleeping you have to come to terms with it.
To the outside world, you appear as if all is well and you can see clearly. This is the cruelty of low vision but you have a choice to quit or to move on.
Emily has chosen to move on, I have chosen to move on. Many, many, many more people in our situation have chosen to move on.
The people we were prior to our vision loss and the things that brought us joy are still intrinsic to who we are today. We just found a way to adapt.
I promised last week that I would share pictures of the outfit I wore to the women’s business conference I attended on Saturday. I felt like the subject matter of this post it would be a great opportunity to display the dichotomy of low vision yet having the appearance of seeing. Below is the description of my outfit:
Calvin Klein black short-sleeved, scoop necked sheath dress with a thin white belt and white piping around the neckline, sleeves and along the outer seams of the sleeves and sides of the dress down to the hemline. I wore black d’Orsay heels and carried a black and tan Liz Claiborne tote accented with tan and orange tassels.
The color contrast on the dress was so striking that I kept my jewelry to a minimum, wearing only a stretch rhinestone bracelet and rhinestone embellished drop earrings.
“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.” ~Henry Ward Beecher