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Guest Post: Ashley Morgan

Confidence Is Beautiful, Confidence Is Ashley!

Photo of Ashley sporting a bob hairstyle posing for the camera with a big smile on her face. She is wearing a pretty blue & white patterned crew neck top
Ashley Morgan

Hi, my name is Ashley Morgan. I am a daughter, sister, aunt, and teacher and I am also blind. I was born 3 months premature and only weighed 2 pounds, 1 ounce. The doctors gave me too much oxygen, and it damaged my retinas, causing me to be diagnosed as legally blind.

Growing up, I had no vision in my right eye, and I had very little vision in my left eye. I could see things only if they were very big and close to my face.

My parents made sure that I had a normal childhood. I went to public school throughout my education, and I had all the normal childhood experiences. I went to birthday parties, sleepovers, rode my bike, and roller skated. Most of my friends were sighted, so I was very much a part of the sighted community. Throughout early elementary school, I used a closed circuit TV, allowing me to read and write in print.

At the age of 11, my parents enrolled me in a school district that had a visually impaired program. At that time I learned braille and how to use a long cane. Doors began to open for me upon learning these new important skills. When I entered middle school, I was a dual media learner, using both braille and print.

While in middle school I decided that I wanted to be a teacher of the visually impaired when I grew up. After graduating high school, I went on to college, attending Kent State University, where I majored in Educational Studies and attending graduate school at The Ohio State University, where I received my Master’s in teaching the visually impaired.

Going to college as a young woman who is blind was very difficult, but so rewarding as well.

I learned how to be a greater self-advocate for myself, and I explored my passion for teaching on a deeper level. Once I received my Masters, I began teaching the visually impaired in 2010. Then, during my first year of teaching, I lost the rest of my sight as a result of Closed Angle Glaucoma, becoming totally blind with no light perception.

I’ve held numerous teaching positions in the past 7 years. I feel blessed to educate children who are blind and visually impaired and to educate the sighted community about blindness. I don’t view my blindness as a disadvantage, but rather a gift.

My greatest gift that I can give to someone is knowledge. I love educating children who are blind and I love educating the sighted community about blindness.

It is so satisfying and rewarding to me when I can teach a child a new braille contraction and then watch that child use it in applications. I love working with children to help them use their assistive technology and watch them flourish in the classroom.

My newest venture is being a Younique presenter. Younique is a cosmetics company whose mission is to uplift, empower, and validate women. I believe that I bring a unique aspect to the Younique family since I am blind.

My blindness has allowed me to see beauty in a different way for I believe that our emotions and actions are what make us beautiful.

What really matters to me is not how that person looks but how they feel, their actions, and how they interact with those around them.

What really matters to me is not how that person looks but how they feel, their actions, and how they interact with those around them.

I believe what we wear whether its clothes, jewelry, or makeup can evoke emotions. And it’s those emotions that make us beautiful. I want to be able to help women experience make up with their senses: feeling, touching, smelling, and hearing and not focusing on sight.

I believe that my disability does not define me, but rather has molded me into the woman I am today. I have embraced my blindness. We all have a story to tell, and that gives us powerful connections to others and allows us to sometimes make positive change.

You can contact Ashley through her Younique site at www.youniqueproducts.com/WildHeartAshley

 
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Out Of Sight Makeup

Featuring Tori Clark

Six assorted colored lip pencils. Image is the property of Copyright © Younique, LLC. 2017
Image is the property of Copyright © Younique, LLC. 2017

Bold Blind Beauty is all “about walking boldly with confidence, transcending barriers and changing the way we perceive one another” and nothing speaks this philosophy louder and clearer than someone living the words. Tori Clark is a young woman who teaches other young blind women how to do makeup to help boost their confidence.

1. Hi, Tori, when we first chatted one of the things you mentioned to me was that you’re going to school to be a Special Education teacher. Can you give us a little background on why you’ve chosen this field?

“I started with Younique so I could teach young blind women how to do makeup to help boost their confidence.” ~Tori

I chose this field because I always loved teaching. I remember specifically taking a curtain rod that fell off the window and using it as a pointer to teach my stuffed animals when I was about five or so. Later in high school, there was a dual enrollment class for students interested in teaching, so naturally, I took it.

At first, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to teach and it wasn’t until after I graduated from high school and took a gap year to find myself that I decided to go the Special Ed route. I love the idea of teaching Special Education (Special Ed) because it fulfills both my desires to teach and work with the disabled.

I’m starting out by majoring in elementary education because that is what my community college offers. After I talked to an advisor from Western Illinois University I discovered I could major in Special Ed.  

On mascara: “you can blink it on until you know what the product feels like when it is applied. Then you can start adding fibers to lengthen the lashes.” ~Tori

2. You also mentioned that you may end up doing what your tutor did and eventually open up your own business. What type of business would it be and what are your hopes for its success?

The best way I can describe what I would be is a homeschool teacher. When my tutor wasn’t tutoring me or other students, she was teaching kids one on one. She was also a Special Ed teacher in the school systems once upon a time.

My tutor had a way of making things easy to understand, and she didn’t like what the school system had become.  I also believe the public school system is going downhill and without her, I’m not sure if I would’ve made it out of school at all.

Five assorted loose powder swatches. Image is the property of Copyright © Younique, LLC. 2017
Image is the property of Copyright © Younique, LLC. 2017

Teachers and the school board are only concerned with students passing the state’s standardized tests and not about teaching. I obtained more valuable knowledge from two very memorable teachers at high school, Mr. Cartwright, and Coach Head, (yes, that was his name).

Mr. Cartwright taught marketing, but more importantly, he taught me how to have a mindset for customer service and life in general. Coach Head taught United States History. Fun fact: he was very excited when he heard my cane approaching his classroom. He had seen and heard me for years and for some reason wanted me as a student. Coach Head also said he couldn’t wait to hear me walking around with my dog, but that day never came because when I got my guide dog he transferred to another school before my senior year.

When I was in Coach Head’s class, I got frustrated with him. He didn’t teach us anything that was on the standardized tests, but, like Mr. Cartwright, he gave us a new perspective. Looking back, I think his teaching method was more valuable when it comes to history because there’s always more than one side to the story in as told in history books and he provided us with that information.

It was these learning experiences and points of view that led me to consider opening my own business so that I can give my students an education they wouldn’t get inside the classroom. Let’s just say I seem to have a problem with limits.  

3. I know you’ve only recently begun to experiment with makeup. Can you tell us how you were introduced to the world of cosmetics and how you feel when you wear makeup?

I first started out using makeup when I was thirteen, but I was scared to try it on my own because I had no guide or anything. I basically had my mom do it if she had the time.

Then one of my friends taught me how to use mascara and I started talking to sighted people about how they did their makeup. I figured I could take the techniques they used and tweak them a bit to make them work for me.

As the years went on, I started to watch YouTube videos of girls doing their makeup and would try to find techniques to tweak, but I was still too scared to try it myself. It wasn’t until I met Dagmar, my Younique sponsor, and good friend, that I had an idea.

“I love makeup. It makes me feel confident and involved with the rest of civilization.” ~Tori

Younique is a company that’s all about uplifting, empowering, and validating women all around the world by making them feel beautiful and to help them become financially independent. Granted it’s a slow process right now, but I thought I could use my business with Younique to give young blind women a boost of confidence.

4. In the sighted world, many do not understand how or why a person who is blind or visually impaired would care about their appearance. What are your thoughts on this topic?

Five assorted luminizers. Image is the property of Copyright © Younique, LLC. 2017
Image is the property of Copyright © Younique, LLC. 2017

Blind people like to adapt to the sighted community. We can do this in many ways. Learning how to put on makeup to blend in is one of those ways. Some say they don’t need makeup to feel confident but some blind women feel more confident when they feel that they look their best.  

5. How can our readers get in contact with you to learn more about Younique?

My website is outofsightmakeup.com and all of my contact information is on the website. There is also plenty of information about Younique, their mission, and their products.

Tori Clark, Black Hawk Chapter President National Federation of the Blind of Illinois and Younique presenter.