Posted on 12 Comments

Makeup Perfection & Vision Loss

The Continuing Conversation

Image of two empty conversation bubbles (one blue one pink)
Image found on Disability Blog

I received the BEST surprise on Friday. After spending all day at a very informative and productive networking event it was such a pleasure to come home, get warm & toasty, go online, open my inbox and find a hidden treasure.

“I featured you on my website today under my Friday Friends column.” Was the lead-in sentence and of course I recognized the sender’s name so it was off to their site to check out the article.

Amy Bovaird, author of Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith, liked a post I wrote for VisionAware so much that she decided to share it with her readers – Thank you Amy!

Friday Friends: Spotlight on Stephanae McCoy begins with a brief history on my sight loss then it goes into how women who are blind or vision impaired can be fashionable. The response from some of Amy’s readers was so kind and supportive I wanted to share it with you today.

If you’re human and I can only assume you are or you wouldn’t be reading this post, depending on your age, you’ve probably been through some stuff. One minute we’re merrily skipping through life then all of the sudden BAM…a significant life-altering event has occurred.

While the recovery period is not the same for everyone, broadly speaking it could be said that during the initial aftermath of said event your body goes on autopilot (I think this is a built-in safety mechanism for our protection during the adjustment period). Once the haze has lifted and we fully recognize what has happened to us we react with the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Again, depending on individual circumstances, the recovery period can be short, long or indefinite. If we are able and willing to make the choice to get through the after-affects of severe trauma it’s at that point we make use of any resources at our disposal to do what we need to do to keep going.

None of us are immune to disability or unfortunate situations that may arise in our lives. It becomes a matter of how we respond to these circumstances that determines our being able to move forward.

It’s important that we look at people as unique individuals who are capable of achieving our hearts’ desire. For some of us who have disabilities this may be more of a challenge but not impossible. The most difficult obstacle we face is breaking through the preconceived notions of others.

When many people experience a painful, life-changing event, though it may take time to adjust while learning new skills and techniques of doing what we used to do, we are fundamentally still the same. In my case I took pride in how I carried myself and my appearance with makeup, dress. Since losing my sight these things have not changed as they are integral to who I am however the way I achieve the end result had to be modified.

The Elephant

Photo of elephant sitting on his hind legs taking a shower under a waterfull. looks like he's having a grand time. Found on Pinterest via Buzzfeed
Found on Pinterest via Buzzfeed

People are afraid of going blind, it’s a fact that has been proven time and time again in numerous studies and surveys. Losing vision is scary.

No longer being able to see yourself during personal grooming, applying makeup, getting dressed then heading out into a world who doesn’t understand how to approach you is scary. But here’s the good news – you can adapt and go on to live a fulfilling life.

Though vision loss impacts every aspect of our lives, letting go of the need for self-imposed perfection, and opening ourselves up to new perspectives can go a long way in the healing process.

In the area of makeup, I initially decided I just wasn’t going to wear it anymore because trying to apply it was too difficult (can’t you just hear me whining?) I think this was more a matter of   a lack of control because it was like I was having an adult temper tantrum. “I’ll show you Steph, since using this makeup is too hard I’ll just quit” (picture an image of me with closed fists, arms crossed, and my best sulking face and that was my stance).

Once I got through this nasty pity party period I did several things:

  • Evaluated my processes and products, eliminated what wasn’t working and tweaked what was doable.
  • Up until last year since I couldn’t manage liquid eyeliner I just  used pencil to line under the eyes. Now I use pencil on the lids as well.
  • Stopped using foundation for a few years then began using mineral makeup, to now using a sheer liquid that blends so easily I don’t have to worry about streaking.
  • Stopped lining my lips although I think I can begin doing this again.
  • No longer use mascara on lower lashes (tried this on a number of occasions and I always end up looking like a panda – no biggie)
  • Stopped using blush
  • Went to a cosmetologist to help me with developing a personalized makeup routine

Today, my makeup technique is nowhere near what it used to be but then again neither am I. Oh sure, I’m still my harshest critic, stubborn, judgmental, and nitpicky but I’m also, a smart, resourceful, introspective, problem-solver who is still learning. I’m glad to say that though I still strive to be the best me I can be, letting go of the all-consuming perfectionism has been liberating.

Always remember – when you feel good, you look good.

“Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is.” ~Albert Camus

Posted on 1 Comment

Telling Our Stories…|Empish Thomas

Telling Our Stories featured image description is in the body of the post.

Telling Our Stories…|Empish Thomas

The following article was lightly edited and updated. Our featured Woman On The Move is someone I’ve only met virtually by conference calls, email, and phone. Empish and I serve as Peer Advisors for VisionAware and in this role, we offer advice and helpful tips to those new to sight loss. Empish is a prolific writer, advocate, and mentor. She has also been an invaluable resource to me and a voice for blind and visually impaired people.

My Journey as a Blind Writer and Editor

“From the time I was a small child I have always been intrigued by the written word. From checking out children’s books at my local library to reading the newspaper out loud to my parents. Words have always moved and compelled me.” 

~Empish Thomas

Fast forward to my adult life. With a journalism degree and a disability, I focused my career on writing stories and advocacy for people in my community. I noticed the negative and sometimes incorrect portrayal of the disabled in the news media and became proactive in changing that image. I believe language is powerful and people with disabilities must tell their own story. Hence the Nigerian proverb “Don’t let the lion tell the giraffe’s story.”

So here’s a little bit of my own tale

My journey as a visually impaired writer started about 20 years ago. After finishing my rehabilitation training at the Center for the Visually Impaired (CVI), I volunteered to write and edit their newsletter. Eventually, the volunteer opportunity blossomed into a paid position. In this new role, I provided information and resources to people with disabilities. Simultaneously I worked part-time as an AmeriCorps member providing peer support and advocacy.

Later, I launched my freelance writing career with an emphasis on the disabled and landed a column in Dialogue Magazine. I wrote career profiles on people who are visually impaired as a direct result of my passion and journalism experience. In each issue, I profiled people successfully working in a variety of career fields from education, government, science, self-employment, arts, and entertainment.

In addition to my column, I worked at CVI as their Public Education Manager. I conducted facility tours, managed exhibit booths at community/resource fairs, and posted InfoLink, our community bulletin board. I’m also a public speaker for United Way and manage our speaker’s bureau. Recently, I entered the blogosphere by managing CVI’s website blog called Sightseeing. This was an exciting undertaking for me as I:

  • blogged about issues that impacted the blind community,
  • solicited guest bloggers,
  • researched story ideas and
  • planned the editorial calendar.

Volunteering within the blind community

And if all of this was not enough I volunteer in the blind community as well! I am a peer advisor and blogger for VisionAware. On this site, I lend my professional and personal experience to people experiencing vision loss. I’ve volunteered with the American Foundation for the Blind’s Career Connect. Here I interacted via e-mail with others interested in pursuing a journalism career.

Previously, I was a volunteer producer for a monthly hour radio show for the blind called “Eye on Blindness.” The show was sponsored by the Georgia area Radio Reading Service (GaRRS). It was an interview-style program which featured special guests who provided information on a variety of topics such as travel, employment, health, and politics.

I am proud that I’ve been able to take my education, disability, work, and life experiences, and combined them. Not only do I have a rewarding and meaningful life but a fantastic career that I absolutely love!

Connecting With Empish:

Telling Our Stories Featured Image Description:

Empish Thomas is seated at CVI Exhibit Table at Coca-Cola’s Disability and Diversity Awareness Fair.