“Disability does not mean inability”
Since my relationship with sports is practically non-existent, I’m sadly out of the loop when it comes to any sports-related activities. However, I greatly admire women—and particularly women with disabilities—who are kicking @$$! I’m especially thrilled each time I have the opportunity to present one of these women on Bold Blind Beauty.
Today, I’m excited to introduce you to Eliana Mason, a young woman I’ve only recently met. When I saw her flip a 400-pound tire, I thought “I’ve got to meet this lady.” Like many women featured here, Eliana’s passion to change how people with disabilities are viewed is palpable. She’s a phenomenal woman who already is and will continue to accomplish amazing things in her life.
Blind Beauty 80 | Eliana Mason
When I was growing up people always used the word “inspiration” to describe my accomplishments. This word frustrates me because you shouldn’t find it inspiring that someone with a visual impairment graduated high school, has friends, has a job, or plays sports. This should be the norm.
If you treat individuals with disabilities differently and as if they are incapable, then that is how they are going to view themselves and act. It is important we empower individuals with disabilities by not seeing them as ‘other’ or treating them differently but simply acknowledging that everyone faces personal struggles and overcomes them in their own ways. We all have challenges in our lives, just being visually impaired means everyone you meet knows what your challenges and struggles are.
We need both sighted, blind and visually impaired individuals alike to work together to change how blindness is understood and viewed. Don’t tell me I am your inspiration for doing something that is the norm. It is okay to tell someone they are inspiring, but it should be for something that is worth that acknowledgment.
I am an athlete and play on the Paralympic National Women’s Goalball Team representing Team USA. I found my identity and confidence through sports and wouldn’t be who I am today without adaptive sports.
Most people have never heard of the Paralympics, they are parallel to the Olympic Games, except they are for athletes with any type of physical disability. Goalball is a sport geared specifically to blind athletes and it has allowed me to excel as an athlete, to train, and compete at an elite level without my vision being a limitation. I am currently training full-time to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games next year in the hopes of bringing home a gold medal.
Being an athlete empowers me and makes me feel strong and beautiful. Strength is beauty to me and working hard to reach a goal is what pushes me every day to be better than I was yesterday. When I am a Paralympic gold medalist, then you can tell me I am an inspiration, after I’ve accomplished something that is inspiring and extraordinary. Until then, recognize that I am no different than you, and that I am capable and able to accomplish anything I set my mind to, just like you.
- Featured image is a faux fashion magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. The event was of the Team USA Red Carpet 2016. Eliana is on the cover standing on the red carpet wearing a red dress and gold sandals. Pretty Eliana who has honey blonde hair just below her shoulders. She is wearing a bronze medal around her neck and behind her is a dark gray backdrop with the Team USA logo and logos of company sponsors. Blocks of text superimposed on Eliana’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”
- Lima 2019 Throwing Photo is an action shot of Eliana preparing to throw the ball.