“My high school teachers took one look at me and decided that I cannot learn chemistry, physics, and geography due to my ‘poor’ eyesight. I was also informed that since I was visually impaired, I had to learn Braille as I would be using it in my final exam.”
I met Albinism Goodwill Ambassador, Grace Nzomo when she entered a contest for the March edition of CAPTIVATING!Magazine. Born and raised in Kenya, Grace is working to improve the lives of people with albinism. In some areas of Africa, superstitions and serious misconceptions play a role in the persecution of those with the condition.
A 24-year-old psychology graduate from USIU-Africa, Grace also models part-time. In addition to expressing herself through beauty and fashion, she is also increasing awareness of albinism.
I envision a society in which persons with albinism are fully integrated, appreciated, and empowered to live up to their full potential.
The featured image is a teal, black, and white faux fashion magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Even though the photo is black and white the contrast of Grace’s tam (hat) and makeup is striking. The color version of the photo included in the article shows the bright red hat, lip color, and gold choker. Blocks of text superimposed on Grace’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.”
“I believe people who are visually impaired have an enormous amount of creativity, we have skillful ways of navigating through the obstacles daily life brings. I hope my story encourages people to find their own ways of expressing themselves. Whichever way they find best fits: art, sports, travel, you name it..! Just go for it!”
Blind Beauty 75 | Nivi Morales’ Story
For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by small details. Over the years I have used my camera to express this fascination. This is something relatively straight forward for me to explore because my eyes naturally frame things in their own particular way.
In 2002 I was told I had lost a significant percentage of my peripheral vision due to an eye condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa. Doctors told me I would gradually lose most of my peripheral vision, that there was no cure. For someone who had been relatively healthy, this diagnosis came as a shock. However, I decided not to give up. A year after the diagnosis I started traveling. It did not take long until I discovered a new hobby: photography.
Finding New Meaning
In the last four years, this hobby has really taken a new meaning as my sight continued to change. I started using a white cane and some adaptations to read small print. The new challenges did nothing but fuel my thirst to explore and express myself, to lead a productive happy life. I have continued to capture details of nature, landscape, and buildings in my local area and on my travels.
Every day I make a conscious choice to focus on the positive details. There is nothing more rewarding than capturing a moment and then looking at it through the help of my computer. The sense of joy and fulfillment I get from developing and sharing images gives me the energy to carry on, even in challenging times.
I believe people who are visually impaired have an enormous amount of creativity, we have skillful ways of navigating through the obstacles daily life brings. I hope my story encourages people to find their own ways of expressing themselves. Whichever way they find best fits: art, sports, travel, you name it..! Just go for it!
I want to finish by thanking Stephanae for the opportunity to share my story with you all stunning Bold Blind Beauties out there.
Blind Beauty 75 | Nivi Morales’ Story Featured Image Description:
Featured image is a faux fashion magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Nivi Morales’ image on the cover is black & white. Blocks of text superimposed on Nivi’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.”
This color close-up photo of Nivi’s featured image on the faux fashion cover was taken by her mother. It’s an outdoor shot and in the background, greenery can be seen. Her salt & pepper hair is in a stylish short cut and she is wearing fashionable squarish wired rimmed eyeglasses with pink lip color. She is also in a navy v-neck top.
This image is from Nivi’s recent trip to Italy. It’s a photo of a swan swimming in Lake Garda.
I was born with albinism, which caused me to be legally blind. Due to my lack of sight, I live in a world where bugs don’t exist, dust is something I only hear about but never see and everyone has flawless skin.
~Antonia Lliteras Espinosa
The Times They Are A Changin Rapidly
Aren’t we living in exciting times? I sometimes wonder what our ancestors would think if they could be here in this moment. Who would have thought we’d ever be untethered to a phone line? Or have the ability to connect with someone from around the world instantaneously? Heck, even receiving news almost as soon as it happens is almost miraculous in comparison with days gone by.
As an advocate, one of the things that really excites me is being here to see representation unfold. Just thinking about the logistics of tracking the numerous groups of people gives me heartburn. Can you imagine the group breakdowns? It’s enough to make your head spin.
Being one of the 15% of the world’s population who has a disability, seeing more representation is so empowering. When you have an online presence it’s even more so because you can meet so many more awesome people. Take today’s Blind Beauty, Antonia, for example. Prior to last week, I didn’t know this young woman. Yet thanks to Instagram, when I asked if I could share one of her posts, well, the rest is history.
The Beauty Of Unity
Since it’s out of the ordinary to see blind women on fashion magazine covers, I created Blind Beauty. Living the “be the change you wish to see” philosophy, I created this faux fashion magazine cover to highlight these women. As I’ve said since starting Bold Blind Beauty, “Real Beauty Transcends Barriers.”
There are so many beautiful people in our world and the real beauty is how we lift up one another. Following is the rest of Antonia’s quote:
Out of sight out of mind, right? I have been asked many times if there was a cure whether I would take it and, to be honest, I don’t think I would. It has taken me many years to get to where I am today, but I have learned to find joy through my other senses. I appreciate the beauty in the world just as much as the next person and my visual impairment has put me in a unique position where I get to experience the raw humanity that unites us all. I get to see people at their best because I am so vulnerable to others. If I were to suddenly gain my sight, I would miss out on all this and, let’s be honest, the world would be a much dirtier place!
~Antonia Lliteras Espinosa
Blind Beauty 74 Featured Image Description:
Featured image is a faux fashion magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Antonia’s image on the cover is black & white. In this photo, Antonia is standing in front of a tiled wall posing with her white cane. She looks fabulous in a lace cami, jeans, jacket, shades, and a handbag over her right shoulder. Blocks of text superimposed on Antonia’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”
This photo is a color image of the Featured Photo. The tiled wall is sort of a dark teal color. Antonia has a white/blonde stylish bob hairstyle. Her cami is white with a light blue jacket, blue jeans, and sparkling silver sneakers. Her white cane also has a bright pink handle.
This photo shows Antonia sitting on a park bench. She’s wearing a vibrant royal blue top with a luxe velvet navy jacket with jeans and black flats. Her white cane is propped up against the bench. In the background parked vehicles and storefronts can be seen.
I think feminism and sexuality have the potential to be complicated when you have a disability. Know that being blind doesn’t stop you from creating something that is visually beautiful, sexy, and strong.
Blind Beauty 73 | Rachael Storey
Rachael Storey’s quote is a call to action for all of us regardless of our abilities or disabilities. Changing the way we view ourselves and others is the first step to breaking down barriers. For me, her quote is a personal reminder to continue broadening my viewpoints.
The idea that a person with a disability is broken, or cannot live a fulfilling life is outdated. Why can’t we just accept that ‘we’ (abled and disabled) are valuable beings as we are?
Rachael, a talented para-pole dancer, aerialist, and adventurer is an amazing example of someone living a limitless life. She’s also challenging us to change the way we think about people with disabilities and their capabilities.
Losing Sight Opened Mind
One of the most difficult lessons I’m still learning is how to broaden my thinking. What I find interesting about this concept is how it correlates to my blindness. As a natural-born myope (nearsighted person), I’ve always had blurry sight and could not see objects in the distance. Thankfully, for most of my life, corrective lenses fixed this problem by bringing my vision into focus and allowing me to see further.
Since I was keenly aware of how myopia (or my eyes) worked, seeing objects up close made sense to me. On the other hand, I never understood how hyperopia (farsightedness) worked. I mean, how can someone see in the distance yet not see close up? Just thinking about this theory would make my head spin.
Sailing through life with corrected vision was my normal. Never in a million years did I think I would lose my sight. I’d simply continue getting a new lens prescription every year, or so I thought. When I began having issues that threatened to steal my sight I wanted nothing more than to hold onto it. I couldn’t imagine life without sight, it was all I knew.
Correcting Myopic Thinking
You may have heard the term myopic being used to describe a person who is narrow-minded. This type of individual cannot metaphorically ‘see’ beyond their point of view. It’s really sad when you wake up one day and realize ‘you’ (meaning ‘me’) are this person.
Before I lost my sight, I thought blindness was all-encompassing darkness—to me, it meant no sight. I was wrong.
Connecting with so many people from all around the world has opened my eyes to so many things. I no longer believe in the ‘one size fits all’ approach to anything. Especially where people are concerned, we need to expand our thinking. Placing our limitations on anyone regardless of ability or disability is unjust. I like the following quote from Rachael’s Facebook page:
The basic stigmas of disabilities, more specifically visual impairments, lead to the misconceptions about what we can actually do. The truth is even without a disability everybody learns at different paces and in various different ways. What works for one might not work for another.
When it comes to facing our personal biases it’s not a one and done type situation. It’s a constantly evolving process that requires us to first acknowledge our prejudices. After acknowledgment then we must actively work daily towards positive change through awareness, understanding, and finally acceptance.
Blind Beauty 72 | Rachael Storey Featured Image Description:
Featured image is a faux fashion magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Rachael’s image on the cover is black & white. In this photo, Rachael is upside down on a hoop suspended in the air. Blocks of text superimposed on Rachael’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”
Rachael Storey Practicing – Rachael is practicing on a bright pink pole. She is upside down with her arms extended below her head as her body arcs almost in a ‘C’ formation.
Rachael Performing On A Trapeze – This is a black and white photo similar to the featured image. In this picture Rachael is doing a upside down pose with arms outstretched.