“Suddenly Sightless – a creative insight into our sight loss”
~Alex & Laura
Lately, it seems like there’s an explosion of people coming together in the blind and visually impaired community to change perceptions and I love it! Take Alexandra Lucas and Laura Greeves for example. The two women share a common bond of a love of beauty and both are also losing their eyesight.
Becoming fast friends, Alex and Laura created a podcast where they share makeup tips and reviews. Their easy, friendly and laid-back style is refreshing and informative.
Laura and I started this podcast shortly after meeting and hitting it off. We had loads in common and naturally bounced off each other. Both of us felt that there wasn’t much support for sight-impaired people our age (mid-20s). So we decided to create a fun, informal yet supportive and creative outlet where we could help others in our situation and other relevant issues. Since then we’ve been thick as thieves and it’s been such a fantastic journey!
Blind Beauty 58 Featured Image Description:
Featured image is a faux fashion magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Alex & Laura’s selfie is on the cover in black and white. It looks like they are seated at a table in a restaurant with heads together slightly smiling.
Blocks of text superimposed on Alex & Laura’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”
This color photo of Laura and Alex shows the blond beauties cheek to cheek both each holding up a makeup brush. Laura is wearing a striped navy and white top and Alex has on a blue and white short-sleeved top.
Today’s Woman On The Move, Jennifer Dunlap shares her heartbreaks and triumphs while living with RP. FYI – Jennifer was also a recently featured Blind Beauty.
“I am more than my vision loss. I am more than my disease. At the same time, my eyes have helped define my character as I grow into the woman that I want to be. It’s a fine line that has had difficult moments, but that line is one I will continually walk, some days with my cane, and some days without.”
Knowing From the Start
I wasn’t surprised by my diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). What surprised me was how the disease took hold of my youth and unraveled it unexpectedly.
It’s fairly common for women in my family to have RP. My mother, her mother, one of my aunts as well as her daughter―all have this eye disease. There are a few members of our extended family with RP as well. We all have varying degrees and different sight loss stories. With the exception of me and my mother, the other female family members were able to drive among other things. They were able to drive and only had vision loss in dim lighting or issues with peripheral vision.
With RP, gradual vision loss and eventual blindness are expected. Not knowing when or having the exact timeline didn’t scare me as a kid. The majority of my family with this disease didn’t start losing a lot of vision until their late 30’s.
My only setbacks as a child were not being able to play cops and robbers in the dark and decreased peripheral sight. When high school hit, everything changed and my vision began decreasing rapidly. It took a toll on my self-esteem because I felt like I couldn’t actually see what I looked like. I struggled with body issues and developed bulimia, yet I was able to hide my self-loathing very well.
Facing the Obstacles
Once my vision became an unavoidable obstacle, I got a mobility specialist. Then I looked at my options with a counselor who could help me find my footing in the blind world. In a matter of two weeks, I found out I wouldn’t be able to drive and was declared legally blind. I wasn’t heartbroken, I was angry and still struggling with my appearance.
My senior year of high school was when I was fitted with my white cane and low vision aids. I pretended to be strong on the outside to get through my senior year. But in reality, I was up and down with depression and an eating disorder. I hid things so well from my family and was already accepted to a great college one town over. They didn’t notice the internal struggles, and I wanted to keep it that way.
Seeing Through the Storm
Even though I did really well in college, I still had issues I was hiding from everyone. My vision kept getting worse, but I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in writing. I also had two minors- Professional Technical Writing and Women’s and Gender Studies.
Getting my degree helped me find a new understanding of my eyes and what I could accomplish, but I couldn’t shake the self-loathing. My purging and depression became so bad, that I was hospitalized for a suicide attempt.
Seeing my body crash from the damage I caused, made me realize that my blindness wasn’t at fault for my bulimia. After a lengthy period of rehabilitation and out-patient counseling, I was able to find some hope. I married my best friend from high school and only had a few issues with relapse. Once we decided to start a family, I didn’t let my vision loss hold me back, and I decided to be healthy. It was a decision only I could make.
Blinder, Bolder, and Busy with Babies
Having kids was the self-loathing turning point in my life. I realized that seeing beauty isn’t as powerful as feeling it. Being a mother made me love myself.
I couldn’t see the detail in my babies faces. My vision was like seeing through a straw and there with broken glass at the end of the tunnel. The colors were dim and lighting played a big part in what silhouettes I could see. I didn’t let the vision loss hold back my opinions about how beautiful my children are or how beautiful my life had become.
Motherhood showed me that blindness wasn’t my weakness, it was my superpower. Blindness made my other senses stronger, and it helped me find the self-love that I needed. I was wrong to blame RP on my self-doubt. RP became the backbone for my character and confidence.
Finding Confidence Featured Image Description
In the photo, Jennifer is holding her adorable son and daughter. All three are smiling for the camera.
This photo is a selfie of Jenn. The softly smiling, long-haired brunette beauty is wearing a yellow tee under a plaid shirt.
“The white cane is more than just a mobility tool for blind and vision impaired users. It is also a badge of strength and boldness. It allows us to take back our lives, regardless of where we fall on the sight loss spectrum.”
White Cane Day celebrates the achievements of blind and visually impaired (B&VI) on October 15 every year. It also reminds people of how the white cane is an important tool in helping the B&VI live with greater independence.
We are extraordinary. We are able to see the world through a spectrum few get to experience. No matter where we fall on the blindness range we have developed skills from self-care to independent living that allow us to take full advantage of our remaining sensory systems. Among our ranks are poets, ballerinas, teachers, composers, models, pianists, writers, singers, social workers, psychologists, photographers, artists, fashion designers, lawyers, physicians, athletes, chefs, yoga instructors, astrophysicists, chefs, and the list goes on. We chose to soar and continue to thrive beyond physical limitations because we understand there is always a way.
White Cane Day Celebrates Featured Image Description:
Bold Blind Beauty template with fashion icon Abby to the left of the text. Abby is walking with her white cane in one hand and handbag in the other. The image and text are white with a black background. She wears a stylish dress and heels and is sporting her signature explosive hairstyle.