“Often people think because you’re blind you can’t make yourself look good. I love fashion and accessories, I have odd eyes but never wear my prosthetic lens. I love to be different one brown eye one blue grey, I wear my make up and go about my day!” ~Angie Roberts
A year after her heart attack at age 36, Angie was registered as blind. At that time she thought it was the end…and yet here she is, a believer in one should never give up hope no matter how dark you feel.
Blind Beauty 4 Featured Description:
The image is a mock magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Angie Roberts is on the cover looking like a rock star. She is wearing fabulous shades, a sheer black cover-up over a black flapper dress, and jewelry.
Blocks of text superimposed on Angie’s photo are: “Bold | She Keeps Pressing Onward,” “Blind | She Has Deeper Insight,” “Beautiful | She Sees To The Heart Of Others”
“A guide. I never seek a lifeboat but instead, I seek a Lighthouse. I seek trusted people who can guide and remind me that the light I no longer see is still there. I find people who has light coming from their hearts that I can see from far, far away. They know they never have to step into the dark with me, but simply shine and I’ll walk towards them. There’s no way to take away my struggle without also taking away my strength. You never know when you are a lighthouse in someone else’s storm.” ~Christina Holtz
Christina is a wife, mom, and Assistant Director of the Center for Independent Living.
Blind Beauty 3 Featured Image Description:
The image is a mock magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Christina M. Holtz is on the cover positively glowing with her beautiful smile which lights up her face. She looks lovely in a sheer white cover-up with lace detailing over a pink tropical floral dress. Her look is pulled together with pink jewelry and lip color.
Blocks of text superimposed on Christina’s photo are: “Bold | She Keeps Pressing Onward,” “Blind | She Has Deeper Insight,” “Beautiful | She Sees To The Heart Of Others”
I’m not the West Side Story, “I feel pretty” kind of girl. Since losing my eyesight, beauty has been more about how I feel and less about what I look like. I prefer to be “pretty smart,” “pretty kind”, a “pretty good mother.” ~Holly Bonner, Blind Motherhood
Holly is a wife, mom to two adorable daughters, and the Owner, Writer, and Disability Advocate at Blind Motherhood. And for the record, contrary to her quote, Holly is a beautiful woman and one I’m proud to call a friend.
Blind Beauty 2 Featured Image Description:
Featured image is a mock magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Holly Bonner is on the cover looking fabulous in a tan cardigan over a blue & white floral blouse.
Blocks of text superimposed on Holly’s photo are: “Bold | She Keeps Pressing Onward,” “Blind | She Has Deeper Insight,” “Beautiful | She Sees To The Heart Of Others,”
“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).” ~Nicole Schultz-Kass
Beauty Is An Alabaster Princess
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 a 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.
From Angst To Beauty
When I was young, standing out and being seen as someone so visibly different in appearance left me self-conscious. I felt shy and far less confident in myself than I would like to admit. Throughout my childhood, and into 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 bit biased). I’ve always had a beautiful heart and deep caring for others and could recognize this “inner beauty.” But, if I stood next to any other female my age, I couldn’t see physical beauty in myself. I felt so different from everyone around me.
It wasn’t until my late twenties or early 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.” At 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!
For many years, due to a combination of lack of services offered by my school district, and my self-defeatist avoidance of anything “different”, I refused to travel with a cane. I completed schoolwork and activities with top grades but endured neck, 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 with 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–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.
Coming Full Circle
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. 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 a time.
WOTM 33 Featured Image Description:
Photo credit for all images in this post goes to Colleen McKinzie Photography. Nicole, her husband, two daughters, and a female yellow lab, Picassa, are posing outdoors on a sunny autumn day. They are sitting on a wooden deck surrounded by autumn colored foliage.
Nicole and her two daughters are standing together outside on grass under a golden/orange oak tree. Her right arm is wrapped around her oldest daughter while the youngest is sitting atop her shoulders.
In this photo (similar to the featured image) the family standing.