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Historically, blind people have not been adequately represented in archived data, or when they were mentioned many weren’t reflected in a positive light—their lives matter, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. In today’s show, Forgotten Women In History, we will talk about our personal reflections on how we want to be remembered as blind women. Then we’ll hear the story of one blind woman’s fight to survive and to keep her children in a society that deemed her unworthy.
Nearly everyone has heard of Helen Keller but do you know who Laura Dewey Bridgman is? Born in the 1800s Laura was the world’s first educated blind-deaf woman. I found it interesting that Helen Keller’s education was inspired by Laura. While Laura is not the topic of today’s podcast I mention this to illustrate the point of influential blind people who aren’t widely recognized in mainstream historical references.
For the reasons mentioned above, I am so thrilled we had the opportunity to sit down with Peggy Chong, The Blind History Lady for our podcast interview. Peggy is a researcher on blind people from our history who’ve made an impact and whose stories need to be told.
Following episode 3 of Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. complete with the transcription of the show. Enjoy! ~Steph
Episode 3 Forgotten Women In History Transcription
- How Do You Want To Be Remembered in 50 Years? | 1:47
- Supporting Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. | 11:17
- Peggy Chong, The Blind History Lady | 12:18
- 3 Spring Revitalizing Skincare Tips | 26:14
- Connecting With Peggy Chong & Victoria Watts
- Image Descriptions
Welcome back to another episode of Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. is clearing the air for more A.I.R. (accessibility, inclusion, and representation). I’m Stephanae McCoy.
I’m Nasreen Bhutta.
And I’m Sylvia Stinson-Perez.
And we are your co-hosts.
Our guests today are Peggy Chong, also known as the Bind History Lady, and Victoria Watts, the founder of Victorialand Beauty. In recognition of Women’s History Month, Sylvia, Nasreen, and I are each going to share a favorite quote from an inspiring woman.
Audrey Hepburn said, “For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”
Elisabeth Kubler Ross stated a beautiful quote that resonates with me; reveal the beauty. “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
Audrey Lorde said, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”
How Do You Want To Be Remembered in 50 Years?
Hey, ladies, before we get to our first guest, quick question for you. If there’s a podcast, say, 50 years from now, and they talk about women from history and happened to mention us, what would we want our legacy to be? I’ll go first, I would like to think that people would remember me as a person who lived their life in the service for others. Gave wholeheartedly to the benefit of others to make the world just a little bit better. Nasreen, what are your thoughts,
Great question, Steph, and after some thought, for me, I’m hoping people remember me for the good things that I’ve done, the hearts that I’ve touched for my passion that is never dying. And for all the wisdom that I have shared in making a difference in their lives, only then I can really say I have lived well and left my mark on the world. Sylvia?
Well, ladies, I got to say first off, I want people to remember me as bold and beautiful adding to that I want people to remember me as someone who really made a difference in the lives of people whose lives I was fortunate enough to touch both people who are blind and people who weren’t.
I think that especially having worked in the field of blindness, I really hope that in my lifetime, which I still have a ways to go like all of us that we can turn this curve on making blindness, not this thing that people are afraid of. Where we can get to a place where people just see us as people, people who are confident people who are competent people who are just having the same dreams and goals as everyone else, people who truly are beautiful. So that’s mine.
I love that Sylvia. And I think you’re absolutely right for the three of us if they can remember, they were bold and beautiful. That’s good enough for me.
I really like what you had to say Sylvia because it’s so true. I mean, I never would have thought number one that I would be in this position. I never thought that I would be a person who would lose their sight, a person who would lose their sight later in life and what that would look like. Because like many people, and the surveys show it here in the US; people fear blindness, more than they fear cancer or death. I don’t know that I could say I feared it that much. But it was fear.
When the process started I was scared because I didn’t know what to expect. I thought that the life I had built for myself would sort of cease to exist. And I didn’t know what my life going forward was going to look like. So to be where I’m at right now working with you ladies and featuring some of the most wonderful people that have been featured on bold blind beauty has just really opened up my world.
Steph you said something really key there, and that’s unexpected. And I think that we always fear what we don’t know and that’s why so many people are afraid of blindness. And because they can’t imagine what that would look like, in their lives. And obviously, in 50 years, blindness might be eradicated, that would be amazing. If we’ve come that far, where research and medical technology has eradicated blindness. But there’s always going to be something that we don’t know and that we fear. And so seeking to understand that, and to accept people for where they are and who they are, and to help them engage in life, that’s what we need to be doing.
I agree with both of you, I think you guys made some really, you know, really important comments and statements here and painted a really great picture. Because who is out there, wanting this disease who wants this, nobody wants it, it’s unexpected. But how you handle it, how you move forward, how you embrace it, like you said, Sylvia, and how you carry yourself with it, that makes the difference.
And I think for all three of us, we have definitely I mean, we are some badass women. We’ve definitely proven that, that we can take something like that and change it into a positive for ourselves, and become, you know, role models and share it for others, show others how you can really live a life of sustenance, and purpose.
And I think that’s what all three of us are doing is living a life of sustenance and purpose, and where it’s going to take us we don’t know. We’re just starting, we’re starting out on this journey, and we just want people to remember us for being, if nothing else, badass strong women.
You know, we marched to our own tune and we left, we made a mark on the society in the world, wherever we went, whatever we did, whatever you’re doing, Sylvia, you’re leaving a mark, whatever you’re doing Steph, you’re leaving a mark and changing perceptions and what I’m doing, it’s the same thing.
And we’re role models, and there’s a lot of people out there who need that kind of support, or to know that people out there are doing that so that they can also do the same. So if anything, it’s kind of like what you said, Sylvia, sort of that hope what I do, influences others to do the same, that sort of monkey see monkey do you kind of thing.
We can’t control what happens to us. But we can definitely control how we react to it. The more people who we can interact with who are going through challenges, no matter what that challenge is, I think that we can help them. Or at least, I know that it’s our goal, to help people take that next step forward, to be able to be more confident to be more courageous.
Definitely. And I think it’s also important to remember that even though we are, you know, bold, blind, and beautiful, we still have those moments of where we fall down. But again, like you said, Sylvia, it’s not that things aren’t happening to us, and that we’re not reacting to them. Because Lord knows I have those days where, you know, I just feel like I can’t even get out of bed, but we rise. We fall, we fall down, I fall down. But still, I know that I have the tools and the resources to get back up, you know, brush myself off, and keep going. And I think, really, that’s what life is about. Right?
Yep. And I will just add sometimes that’s literally fall down. And we need a support system around us, who will also be part of that and helping to us pick us up when we need it. We do that for each other. We do that for others. But we also all need that.
Well said love that the rise and fall. It’s with all of us.
And history shows that when we think about women in history, they’ve all had challenges. We don’t think about people in history, who went through nothing. Like everyone who we think about and remember who has a legacy went through a challenge and overcame.
Right? And isn’t that why we remember them? Because they overcame? I mean, if you think about it if I actually I can’t think of anybody who hasn’t been through something.
I feel like there should be a whole encyclopedia set if it’s about me then.
Yeah, but that’s how history was made Steph, right? Yeah.
You have to leave your mark.
The more people the more challenges someone has the bigger mark they leave if they can get up and keep going.
Right? And I think that’s what we’re doing right here. So hopefully, in 50 years.
I’d still be alive.
I don’t even want to tell you how old I’ll be in 50 years. Let’s just keep that under our BBB hat.
We would be old, but we could still be alive.
Oh, no, no.
Could you imagine us on that futuristic podcast?
Will we remember what we have to say will we? It’ll be so funny to record that one can you imagine?
So anyone who’s listening, and you see this that you’re hearing this in the archives if you can find us, call us we’ll be on your podcast.
We might not remember who we are. But we’ll be there.
And we’ll be beautiful.
Trying to be bold.
And certainly, we’ll be blind.
Supporting Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R.
Please consider visiting boldblindbeauty.com and making a purchase. When you shop our online store, you support bold blind beauty’s mission and projects such as this podcast. Today, I want to talk about our featured product. Every happy camper needs a unique Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. camper mug. It’s lightweight, durable, and multifunctional. Use it for your favorite beverage or a hot meal, and attach it to your bag for easy access while on a hike.
The mug has white enamel coating with a silver rim and it has our Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. teal hot air balloon logo. For full product details please visit boldblindbeauty.com. And now it’s time to share some amazing info about some bold blind and beautiful people from our history. I send it over to Sylvia to interview our first guest.
Peggy Chong, The Blind History Lady
I am just thrilled today to be interviewing a friend and a colleague. When we started thinking about having someone talk about history, the only person that popped into my mind was Miss Peggy Chong the blind history lady. Peggy is a founding board member and the president of Blind Incorporated in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has worked and volunteered in the blindness field for over 40 years.
Over the past decade, Peggy has researched our blind ancestors writing the history column for Dialogue Magazine. Her articles have appeared in multiple publications. As she currently writes an email post monthly, which I am thrilled to receive every month. I always learn about some fascinating person that really inspires me. Welcome, Peggy, thank you so much for joining us today.
Thank you very much for having me. I appreciate it.
Peggy, you really do inspire me. Would you share with our audience a little bit about your journey with vision loss?
For me, I was born blind into a family where my mother was blind. I have three sisters who are blind. My mother went to the North Dakota School for the Blind. I knew the blind rug weavers piano tuners door-to-door salesman that lived in North Dakota when I was growing up. As I grew older, I stayed active in the blind community and started to collect stories about what I now call our blind ancestors.
Growing up in the blind community. I thought I knew it all. I heard lots of stories, met lots of people. But I did not realize my first blind ancestor was a man who I read about from a 1920s letter from one blind guy to another talking about meeting with our blind Congressman, and he was referring to Thomas David Shaw from Minnesota.
I had no idea that Minnesota had a blind congressman. Turned out, Mr. Shaw went on to be a US senator and died in that office in 1935. And that got me thinking about, well, if I didn’t know about that person, there must be others I don’t know about. And I started collecting and collecting and collecting, and now have quite an extensive collection of raw data. And know there’s a lot more out there.
But these stories are not told to us as blind people. We don’t have a class that we can go to that teaches us about our blind ancestors. That’s where my emails come in and I’m hoping that I can, through my emails, educate all of us, including myself on the wonderful blind ancestors that we do have and the great strides that they made. Rather than hearing about us as a science study or a medical study.
Or hear about the terrible things that definitely did happen to many, many blind people ending up in homes for the ages or asylums for people who were mentally unstable only because they were blind, and no one knew what to do with them. So my stories are all about people who overcame lots of difficulties and still lead very successful lives.
That’s amazing. And I just love that you go on these major searches, you visit libraries, and dig really deep into archives to find these great stories. Can you share with us one story about a woman who is blind from our history that fascinates you?
One woman that comes to mind is a woman that I knew growing up. She was much older than myself, and I thought of her as a very nice Grandma, but, you know, didn’t do much else but bake cookies until I started to dig into her life. And her name was Marie, she came from Minnesota. She was orphaned at a very young age sent to the school for the blind. And then in the summers. She was passed around from orphanages to foster homes.
As she approached graduation, she went to Minneapolis to work for a woman owned a print shop. We’re talking the late 1930s here, early 40s. And the woman actually offered her a job saying, you know, come be my apprentice, I’ll teach you the printing business.
She went to finish out High School in Minneapolis actually left the school for the blind. She married her high school sweetheart from the School for the Blind, who had some vision. So Gosh, she must be a great guy, right? Turned out to be a real bummer; abandoned her many times never had enough money in the house.
She had to barter with her neighbors for groceries. She had three children. They ended up in Nebraska where he was eventually arrested. And she finally went to the welfare department because she didn’t know what else to do. She had no money. She had no place to live. They said well, gee, in Nebraska we can’t help you, you need to go back to Minnesota. They said that in Minnesota they had arranged for the welfare department to help her out.
The next day they came, picked her up, and her children. Took her to the bus, put her on the bus for Minneapolis, gave her a one-way ticket of course. She arrived in Minneapolis, they had made no arrangements for her.
She called up her in-laws who were very surprised to hear from her but very glad they took her in. However, they were quite poor. They had a small house and now they’ve got four extra people in it.
She went to the Welfare Department and the Welfare Department said well gee, we can’t really do a lot for you. You know you, your husband should be helping to support you. But what we’ll do is we’ll put your children in foster care. She immediately said no. She had been in foster care, had some really rough experiences, and would not allow that to happen.
She ended up going to a county attorney who did help her out. He found her an abandoned Gas Station to live in and she lived in it for two years. Her husband gets out of jail and comes back. Wouldn’t you know it, she has another kid. Just as the child is born, he leaves. She actually never saw him again after that.
One of her children became very ill with polio. And that caused paramedics to come to the gas station. They condemned the gas station, she had no place to live, her child was going into the hospital with polio.
This a county attorney helped put on a public campaign. And within several months, they had actually built her a house in Minneapolis. And this woman kept her family together through all of this, she was selling knitted items on street corners to make money.
When she would go to the welfare, especially after her husband came back out of jail, they wouldn’t support her. Unless she put her kids in foster care or went back with her husband, she wanted to divorce him. And they said, No, if you divorce him, we won’t support you, we won’t help you at all. So she really had not a lot of financial support from anyone except the kindness of others. And yet, she managed for four years to keep her family together until she got this house.
And the neat thing was that afterward, about a year after she got this house, she met this really nice man that I also knew very well, they got married. I did not know until I read her story later on that those were not his children. They were the neatest family. But here’s a very strong woman that I think would have been very inspirational to so many of us had we known the struggles that she had gone through as a single parent, as someone with the welfare department, and so on.
That’s amazing what a story of resilience and problem-solving. And I agree, we really do have all these people that we can look back on and say they were able to do that. I can do that, too. So Peggy, what would you say are a couple of the major life lessons like the most significant things you’ve learned while researching and looking back into this history because we can learn so much from history and from other people. What were a couple of big takeaways for you?
When I first started this project, I was looking for the secret to success as a blind person—what was the key education or the key strategy, or the key technique. And what I have learned is that there really isn’t a key learning experience or amount of money or technique. It all has to come from within the people that succeeded. Maybe they weren’t rich, but they still succeeded.
They were successful, because they contributed to their community, to their family. They were happy in their life. The key to their success was that they drug up from inside themselves, the courage to do things they didn’t really want to do, that they were afraid to do. But many of them had reached rock bottom before they came to this conclusion.
You got to understand in the 1800s, early 1900s to accept charity or to get government support. you had to go to the community they voted on it, put your name in the paper. What a shame on your family because they were not taking care of you. The options were very minimal, the poor farms were worse than going to jail.
So to avoid going to a poor farm or an asylum, these people did whatever they could, they tried whatever they could, they put up with whatever living conditions they had to in order to get to the goal that they set for themselves. And that’s what I’ve learned I think the most out of all of this is that it all has to come from inside us. We have to see the beauty within ourselves.
Thank you so much, Peggy and here at Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. You just talked about how important it is to be bold and that that’s how we find our beauty. Thank you so much for being with us today. Peggy, how can people connect with you? Because I have to say, I so enjoy reading these histories that you send out every month. How can others get that same enjoyment? How can they connect with you?
Send me an email at the email@example.com and that is all one word, the firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be glad to add you to my monthly emails.
Thank you so much, Peggy. We’ll be looking for those books that are going to come out too. Thanks, Peggy.
Nasreen and Steph I can’t wait for spring now. You know I’m in Florida, so we’re getting a little spring. We’re also getting a little summer and a little winter and a little fall because every day brings a little of everything. But you know what? My skin really can’t wait for spring. So Nasreen. I think you are going to have our next guest talk about something really important to us so Nasreen take it away.
3 Spring Revitalizing Skincare Tips
Spring is a time of renewal and that also includes your skin. Winter can be brutal on your skin, leaving it dry and itchy. Today we have with us a skincare specialist who’s going to give us tips on how to wake up your skin from winter hibernation with skin that looks and feels good enough to go naked. Please welcome the founder of Victorialand beauty Miss Victoria Watts.
Hi, Nasreen Thank you for having me.
Thank you for being here. You have such amazing skin Victoria yourself. Please share with us three tips on how to transition your skincare routine from winter into spring.
I would be happy to. So as we get ready to go into the warmer months of the year, beautiful springtime, here are some things that I highly recommend you do to get your skin healthy and glowing for the springtime weather.
- The first and most important tip that I can give you is exfoliate. Exfoliating is so important, very important to get rid of that dry and dead skin from the winter months and also it helps to unblock your pores. Any gentle exfoliator will do. I do recommend using a product that has glycolic acid that’s the most effective ingredient to exfoliate your skin.
- My second tip is to switch up your moisturizer. You know in the wintertime we tend to use heavier moisturizer is because our skin is so dry and needs that extra hydration. As we transition into warmer months. I recommend switching to a lighter moisturizer for your daily use.
- Third tip that I have is really important to take care of your eyes. Now that we are transitioning into warmer months the sun is out longer. Wearing a you know oversized pair of sunglasses is great that really does help protect the skin around your eyes and also incorporating an eye cream or eye gel into your skincare routine is very very important. We don’t want to forget about the delicate skin around our eyes.
And then just lastly I want to say as always, no matter what time of year it is, I always recommend using an SPF. Even in the winter months, I recommend it but highly recommend it going into spring and summer to use a daily SPF as well as drink lots of water. Hydrating your body helps your skin tremendously to give you that healthy, glow that we all strive to achieve with our skin. So these are my tips and happy spring.
I love that thank you so much Victoria. So that was exfoliate, change up your moisturizer, wear a big pair of sunglasses and add eye cream and eye gel to that, and as well as drink lots of water and add SPF to your regime. Is there a particular range of SPF that you would recommend Victoria?
I think anything I wouldn’t go above 30 I think 30 is sufficient. And if you do apply a sunscreen in the morning, and say you find yourself at the beach at maybe one or two o’clock in the afternoon, I would definitely reapply that sunscreen again. But 30 is what I recommend.
Awesome stuff. How can people connect with you Victoria and Victorialand Beauty products?
Well, you can learn all about me and Victorialand Beauty at victorialandbeauty.com. And you can also follow us on social at Victorialand Beauty. We’re also on Twitter at Victorialand Beauty, and we’d love to connect with you and yeah, come and check us out.
Thanks so much, Victoria.
Thank you, Nasreen.
Ladies, what are you most looking forward to with spring. Sylvia, what do you think?
Oh, spring is just one of my favorite times because the weather is just beautiful and perfect, and you can walk outside. My favorite thing, though, is flowers. I can’t see the colors anymore, but I can smell them. And let me tell you, I touch a lot of flowers. It might hurt them a little bit, but I’m delicate. But I love to just go out and touch and smell flowers. And I don’t plant them though because I kill things that plant flowers.
Watch out for the bumblebees. That’s all I have to say to you. Steph about you?
What I’m most looking forward to in spring is, and I actually did that this morning because it was like a little over 70 degrees this morning. I went out on my balcony with a nice piping hot cup of coffee. And I sat there with the intention of listening to my bamboo chimes although there was no wind. So that’s one of the things that I really enjoy doing is going out early in the morning and just enjoying a cup of coffee, listening to the birds and the animals romping around, and just soaking up nature.
Nice. So true.
Wow, I think the three of us are pretty much on the same game plan here. For me. I love spring actually because it’s an era of new beginnings. And I love being outside. I love being in nature. Those first blooms, first smells of you know, the nice spring rain. And I absolutely love the melody of birds.
We have a park across the street with lots of trees. And every morning it’s just a melody, singing songs that they’re doing. It’s just great. It’s so energizing, and it actually makes me happy to be alive. It’s kind of like I’m so glad I’m alive in spring.
I want to thank our wonderful guests this afternoon for dropping in the Blind History Lady, Peggy Chong, and Victoria Watts, the founder of Victorialand Beauty. Remember, March is Women’s History Month and your skin is part of self-care as well.
Please share this and ask your friends to subscribe and follow us and enjoy and join us for our next podcast. Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. Thanks for listening, everyone.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Connecting With Peggy Chong & Victoria Watts
- Please visit Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. | Forgotten Women In History for details
- The header is a vintage photo of Laura Bridgman sitting in a chair. Her hair is parted in the center and pulled back. I edited the blank page with the following text:
- (born December 21, 1829, Hanover, New Hampshire, U.S.—died May 24, 1889, Boston, Massachusetts), the first blind and deaf person in the English-speaking world to learn to communicate using fingerspelling and the written word. Laura Dewey Bridgman | American educator | Britannicawww.britannica.com
- Legacy – Closeup black and white photo of the word “Legacy” typed on a retro typewriter.
- Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. Camping Mug. White enamel mug with a silver rim. The podcast logo is a teal-colored illustration of a hot air balloon with the words “Bold Blind Beauty” curved around the top of the balloon. Under the balloon are the words “On A.I.R.” The logo is to the right and left of the handle.
- Identical photo as used in the header but this one shows Laura’s photo in an open book. I found the photo on the Creative Commons website with the following notation: “Laura Dewey Bridgman, 1878” is marked with CC PDM 1.0
- Victorialand Beauty pink wordmark logo on a white background.