Women On The Move: Nicole Schultz-Kass

Beauty Is An Alabaster Princess

Nicole and her two daughters posing outside on a sunny autumn day.
Photo credit to Colleen McKinzie Photograph

When I was asked if I would write about my experiences for “Bold, Blind, Beauty”, I have to admit, some of the insecurities of my youth emerged.  “Do I even fit with the other women who have shared their experiences?”, I thought,  “Am I really a bold, blind, beautiful woman?”

The answer is, “Yes!”  But, that answer doesn’t always come easily when decades of insecurity preceded finding my strength and confidence.

When I was a child, all I wanted was to be like everyone else. I would have given anything just to fit in.

I was born with a condition called Oculocutaneous Albinism, which is also the primary cause of my blindness. As a result, my experience with blindness is closely intertwined with my experience of beauty and physical appearance. I believe it is not coincidental that as I accepted my blindness, I also began to find true appreciation for my own unique beauty.

As a person with albinism, my skin, hair, and eyes lack pigment, resulting in a fair porcelain complexion, light blonde-white hair, and light blue/grey eyes. Albinism is typically accompanied by low vision, but there is a wide spectrum for people with albinism in terms of  eyesight and photophobia (sensitivity to light). My eyesight has always hovered between a measured acuity of 20/200 and 20/400 with strong photophobia.  As I have aged, my  photophobia and functional vision have worsened.

Nicole, her husband and their two daughters posing outdoors on a sunny autumn day
Photo credit to Colleen McKinzie Photography

As a child, teenager, and young adult, standing out and being seen as someone so visibly different in appearance from others left me self-conscious, shy, and far less confident in myself than I would like to admit. Throughout my childhood, and into my adulthood, I didn’t recognize “beauty” in myself, at least not the aesthetic beauty typically referred to with that word. My grandmother would say I was beautiful (I mean, she’s a little bit biased), because I had and have a beautiful heart and  deep caring for others, I could recognize this “inner beauty”. But, if I stood next to any other girl, young lady, or woman my age, I could not recognize physical beauty in myself. I felt so different from everyone around me.

It wasn’t until late in my twenties or early in my thirties that I came to recognize, accept, and truly appreciate, that the features I have because of albinism: my porcelain skin, my white hair, and the unique blue-grey of my eyes, these features are rare, they are beautiful, and they are MINE.

This past summer, at the age of 36, my husband and I attended his university alumni reunion, and a friend of ours referred to me as an, “Alabaster Princess”, and in that moment, he managed to bring together decades of personal struggle with “beauty” in a pivotal, beautiful moment. It was one of those “aha” moments Oprah talked about throughout her career. Aha, my friends, I AM an Alabaster Princess, and I AM BEAUTIFUL!

Nicole, her husband, two daughters and dog posing outdoors on a sunny autumn day
Photo credit to Colleen McKinzie Photography

For many years, due to a combination of lack of services offered by my school district, and my own self-defeatist avoidance of anything “different”, I refused to travel with a cane and I completed school work and activities with top grades  but endured neck and back strain and massive headaches from eye strain. It wasn’t until I was a young adult that I came to understand and accept my blindness as part of me. I believe being blind has been as important in my development  as my values, hopes, and talents, but that blindness is still JUST one part of who I am.

Around age twenty, I attended adjustment to blindness training, which may seem silly to an observer when you consider I had been blind since birth. This training allowed me to meet others blind people and helped me move toward self-acceptance. It also provided me the tools I needed to be independent, competent, safe, and confident. I began traveling with a long, white cane, learned the basics of Braille, and learned how to go through life as a bold, blind, beautiful woman with confidence. I became a guide dog handler a decade later and experienced yet another level of confidence, poise, and grace as I traveled with a canine partner.

My blindness is one piece of the puzzle that is “me”. (If you ask my husband, that’s probably one massive, complex, 3D puzzle!)  I am a daughter, wife, mother, sister, friend, advocate, counselor, speaker, writer, blogger, and crafter. I love life–I enjoy this world full of color, reading, movies, travel, organizing, meeting new people, inspiring others to live their best life, and lifelong learning. There are many things I’m good at, and there are things I am working to improve–just like anyone else.

When I was a child, all I wanted to do was fit in, but as I consider the course of my life, I wanted to fit in when I was born to stand out. I wanted to be invisible in this world where, for some reason, my greater purpose involves being seen.

Today, I am a bold, blind, beautiful woman because I utilize the tools of blindness. Today, I am a bold, blind, beautiful woman because I know who I am, what I have to offer the world, and that I may be blind, but blindness will not stop me from living life fully, learning, growing, and giving, one day at time.

To connect with Nicole here are her social media channels:

Author: Steph McCoy

Hi, I'm Steph, a businesswoman, style setter, blogger, and abilities crusader who breaks the myth that “blind people can’t be fashionable.” “Real Beauty Transcends Barriers”

27 thoughts on “Women On The Move: Nicole Schultz-Kass”

  1. I admire you for your courage to go through your self -discovery and to share your story because so many people, including myself, have life challenges like you and were afraid to learn and grow from it. You’ve been resilient and you seem to know your strengths because of it. Thanks for that inspiring post! -B.O.S.I

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I could not be more proud of the woman you are today. You have been beautiful since your birth-everyone raved over your angelic hair & looks. Then, your beautiful soul & personality began showing brightly through. You’ve always been kind, loving, giving and strong, just to name a few qualities. You had to discover your own full potential and self love to see it yourself through our eyes. Keep advocating for yourself and others, through your raw honesty and openness, and beautiful writing. Proud momma here, always have been-keep going after your dreams, dear one.. much love always & forever!!! Momma

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, so I see where Nicole get her beautiful writing from. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and in this single comment it’s apparent Nicole is a reflection of you. 💖

      Like

  3. Dear Steph & Nicole, you, the strong women/people beating life circumstances are more than beautiful, you’re an inspiration of how (Faith, Hope, Will, Might, Perseverance, & other qualities) can transform lives. Your stroy should be in media & on TV. teaching people how they can win their way through life, the only disability is accepting defeat & hardships & becoming comfortable/cozy with it, bless you & much love to you.😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and for your sweet comment, Samia! I believe that society places most of the constraints and challenges of disability. By that I mean, physical accessibility and access issues aren’t something I can will myself past, they should be planned and designed mindfully for universal accessibility. And when people (employer’s especially) make assumptions or have misconceptions about what a person with a disability is capable of, that assumption impacts employment opportunities for people with disabilities which then impacts self-support and economic structure. It’s a complex and interconnected system, but the truth is, there are simple ways to make our communities universally accessible (and that is so important with our large aging population as well), and with respect to hiring people with disabilities–if the applicant is qualified, the employer would be wise to give them a shot! Most people with disabilities are far more reliable and longstanding employees than people without a disability.

      In any case, I do believe a positive outlook on life goes a long way. We all have room for growth, and we’re all a work in progress. ❤️ -Nicole

      Liked by 2 people

    1. What a beautiful comment, Selina! Words fail me at the moment–but thank you, so much for your thoughts! Sometimes, I think if we just knew one another’s challenges, struggles… stories… we would be far better equipped to support and encourage one another along the road in this life. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL. Thanks, Bun! Those closest to us definitely get to know our best and most challenging features! I am no exception. 😂 My husband and I often tease one another when we’re being particularly challenging, by reminding the other that, “You picked me!” ❤️ -Nicole

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank YOU, Denise, for taking the time to read and for your comments. We all have so much to share, and so much to learn from one another! I appreciate your words greatly! ❤️ -Nicole

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Carla! We all have our challenges in life, right? These have been a couple of mine. Thanks so much for reading and for your warm comment! ❤️ -Nicole

      Liked by 1 person

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