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#ItGetsBetter: Embracing Self-Made Confidence

#ItGetsBetter Featured image description is in the body of the post.

“True confidence doesn’t come from your not having any fear. It comes from trusting yourself to act in spite of your fear.” ~Unknown

#ItGetsBetter couldn’t be a more appropriate intro to the following piece written by a remarkable young woman I connected with on Facebook. Caitlin Hernandez is such a charming storyteller and I so enjoy reading her commentary. She is hilarious when she takes on family member personas, complete with accents. In today’s post, she speaks to something deeply personal to her and how she chose to embrace self-confidence. 

#ItGetsBetter: Embracing Self-Made Confidence

I’m hesitating a bit to share this, but I’m going to because I can, and in case it helps someone.

So one of the boss fifth-grade teachers I share students with offered to be my “blind date” for our school’s fundraising auction (I won’t out her YET, but I’m sure there’ll be pictures!). I was so stoked because, frankly, I don’t ever go to (boring and awkward) “adult functions” like this on my own unless (a) I’m coerced and/or (b) I know I’ll have someone to hang with who won’t middle-school-friend dance-ditch me. But then I remembered that I’d have to dress up … nooo! And I also remembered that y’know, everyone at school thinks I look like an eighth-grader. So then I started getting a little excited about dressing up and maybe actually stunning people by proving that I can look my age. I don’t know why that matters to me–it probably shouldn’t–but it does.

Hunting For the Perfect Dress

Anyway … my mom, as she so often is, was delighted when I semi-grumpily told her that I was sick of wearing my sole “little black dress” whenever I have to dress up, especially because the lacy material snags on everything, and that I guessed the time had come to go on another dress hunt. We went to Macy’s and had a shockingly easy time finding not one, not two, but THREE very different dresses which (a) fit me and (b) were on super-sale. (I told her gleefully that, now, I won’t have to go shopping for years. She just grumbled.)

The deep part: I realize that I’m honing in on the ten-year anniversary of starting college … also the ten-year anniversary of being assaulted … also the ten-year anniversary of feeling incredibly vulnerable and miserable in any outfit that wasn’t jeans and a baggy hoodie zipped to my chin. Struggling to feel safe in your own skin gets compounded so, so much when you don’t know when or how someone is looking at you … and when friends, in trying to be supportive, sometimes compliment you in ways that only confirm to you that you shouldn’t draw attention to your appearance, because that’s just asking for trouble.

Self-Made Confidence By Choice

I’m not going to say it’s taken ten years for me to heal and to feel better. Parts of me felt better a long time ago, and parts of me probably never will feel completely better. BUT I honestly haven’t WANTED to be seen–haven’t wanted to dress up and look good–since I was in high school. I’ve felt hints of it–getting my rainbow dress for Caro’s wedding and having my three, straight-guy aca-besties (straight, best male friends from collegiate a capella) take it in turns to dance with me; wearing my “little black dress” to Choral Institute and standing onstage to read my poem; not being afraid to wear a dress to a karaoke bar in L.A. because I knew Bry and Colin would never let anything happen–but last night was the first time I didn’t just slump on the sidelines while Debbie (my mom) eagerly picked out dresses. I was right in there with her, the way I was for homecoming and junior prom and senior ball in high school: pawing eagerly and shamelessly through the racks of dresses and asking her about the styles that *I* liked by touch and wanted to try on. I really felt like I WANTED to be pretty like I wanted to own that choice.

This isn’t just about dresses. You don’t need dresses or pretty clothes to be beautiful, or to feel strong and safe and confident, or to look your age; I know that. This is about self-made confidence and safety in my own mind and skin … which, for me, right now, feels like it’s about dresses, which I’d almost forgotten I used to like.

I’ll never be that girl who wears anything flashy or scandalous because that’s just not me. But I didn’t feel vulnerable in any of the dresses we tried … not one. And that was HUGE.


It’s hard to explain. But it’s been so long, and this newfound comfortableness crept up on me entirely unexpectedly, and it made me so happy, even though it’s hard for me to articulate or even understand precisely what it is, or how and why it came about.

Oh, I also got ballet slippers–I can never find shoes!–and a little purse, because Debbie sniped that I’d better not bring my BrailleNote and “wreck the outfit.” Sighties don’t understand anything. And Conrad and Barney (two of my oldest girlfriends) are coming over the day of to help me. I’m still not a makeup girl–I never will be … I hereby decree that here, in writing–but I might consent to a little, just cuz I kinda want to shock people by looking like a real adult, and that seems to work well on sighties. I want my rainbow nails (Alison’s specialty), but that’d probably age me down a few years. I also want my face glitter. Hopefully, that will be approved by the fashionistas.

I don’t even really know why I’m putting this out into the universe, except, I guess, to say that in many ways #ItGetsBetter.

And … thank you to all the people who listened to and loved me enough to help me get here. Even when I was the only girl dressed in a button-down in the a cappella line-up, or wearing hoodies in the summer, or attaching to you like a barnacle in a crowd, or doing any number of the things I did to cope. Y’all know who you are.

#ItGetsBetter Image Description:

Caitlin stands in the corner of the room in front of a gray pillar and a window to her left. She is wearing a fancy, solid-black dress that ends just above the knees with a floral-looking, lace pattern along her arms and down her sides to her hips. She’s grinning and holding the back of her hands out towards the camera, showing off her dark colored nail polish. A small black purse hangs by her right hip.

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Daring to Own Your Story

Daring to Own Your Story 2017 Featured image description is in the body of the post.

“If I can climb that mountain what else can I do in my life?” ~Becky Andrews

Daring To Own Your Story is a challenging annual women’s retreat created by my friend Becky Andrews. Recently Becky shared her passion to take more blind women on this empowering adventure in her Holman Prize video submission. Take a listen to her 90-second video as she talks about her annual retreat.

Every year, the Holman Prize awards three blind or legally blind individuals from around the world up to $25000 to carry out a dream project.¹

Becky, seated and talking directly to the camera opens the video. She has dark shoulder length hair with bangs and is wearing a chambray shirt with a navy and yellow fruit print pull-over sweater. Interspersed throughout the video are images of Becky and her guide dog Georgie. Some of the other photos include women on an obstacle course, rock climbing, and hiking.

Daring To Own Your Story Featured Image Description:

This outdoor photo is a group shot of attendees at the 2017 Daring To Own Your Story Retreat. Eight women, (some with white canes) are standing, two are kneeling. Also included in the shot are two guide dogs.

¹(2016) Who is James Holman? • Holman Prize 2018. Retrieved from Holman Prize 2018 website: March 11, 2018.

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4 Tips for Applying Makeup with Vision Loss

Makeup application tips featured image description: a collage of four photos. Top left: Clinique High Impact Mascara, Kat Von D Basket Case Anti-Precision Eyeliner, Violet Voss Ride or Die Palette with the shade Skylar circled (a cool-toned medium brown), and a fluffy eyeshadow brush with text saying '90's GRUNGE SMOKEY EYE'. Bottom Left: Step 1, applying the black eyeliner. Top Right: Step 2, applying the brown eyeshadow. Bottom Right: Step 3, applying the black mascara.

“Makeup is an excellent, malleable vehicle for self-expression.” ~Emily

Freelance makeup artist/licensed cosmetologist Emily Metauten of Emily Metauten Beauty was recently featured on Blind Beauty. Aside from excelling at her craft, Emily boldly expresses herself through her unique and gorgeous style. She has a heart for social justice and is working with Bold Blind Beauty towards breaking down barriers.

For those who choose to wear makeup, you have the freedom to create varying styles of looks day to day. Choosing not to wear makeup is a perfectly valid style choice as well.

People who are blind/sight impaired, such as myself, should not be excluded from choosing to wear makeup or not. Contrary to popular belief, we also like to express ourselves! That being said, here are 4 tips for applying makeup with vision loss, based on my own experience:

1. Handheld mirrors

Image description: three compact mirrors and a standing desk mirror on a blue velvet sofa.You know those tiny mirrors that come in powder compacts that seem too small to do you any good? Well, those just might be your new best friend. The only way I’ve ever achieved a detailed eye look is by holding a little mirror close to my face.

Small mirrors, like the ones that come with Sephora gift cards, make it easier to see when applying my makeup. These mirrors increase my ability to see by giving me the freedom to angle and move in any direction.

If you have weak central vision, depth perception issues, blind spots, or a combo of all three like me, handheld mirrors might be extremely helpful to you, as opposed to struggling with distant wall-mounted mirrors. On the flip side, wall mirrors or even standing desk mirrors might work better for you. It’s all about finding what’s right for you and your needs.

I typically use a standing desk mirror for my face makeup (foundation, blush, contour, and highlight). My trusty handheld mirror works best for my eyes, brows, and lips.

2. “Forgiving” makeup looks

If you’re anything like me, you may think messier is sometimes better in some situations. This could be the case with certain eye makeup looks.

Instead of stressing over getting that perfect Instagram-esque cut crease with false lashes and glitter applied with surgical precision, try going for a 90’s grunge-style smudgy smokey eye. They typically require fewer products and less precision – you could call this a “forgiving” look of sorts.

Time to get messy:
  • Try applying some black pencil eyeliner to your lower and upper lash line.
  • Next, select a single color of eyeshadow, such as grey, black, dark brown, or any bright color if you’re feeling bold (this is Bold Blind Beauty, after all).
  • Grab a fluffy shadow brush, and apply all over your eyelid and lower lash line. Don’t worry about being super precise – feel it out, and go slow if you need to. Using a fluffy shadow brush as opposed to a flatter or denser one will prevent you from applying too much product at once.
  • Finish with a few coats of mascara.
Image description: a collage of three photos. Top Left: L'Oreal Telescopic Mascara, Violet Voss Ride or Die Palette with the shade Isabella circled (a pale shimmery pink), and a fluffy eyeshadow brush with text saying 'SUBTLE EYE'. Bottom Left: Step 1, applying the pink eyeshadow. Bottom Right: Step 2, applying the black mascara.
Subtle Eye

If you’re after a look that’s less bold

  • Skip the black eyeliner – select a more subdued shade of eyeshadow closer to your skin tone (perhaps a shimmery pink, champagne gold, or bronze) and apply it with your finger or a fluffy brush in a similar fashion.
  • Finish with one or two coats of mascara.

When it comes to lips, sheer lip glosses and sheer nude lipsticks will generally be more “forgiving”, also requiring less precision to apply. 

3. Practice makes perfect (what is perfect, anyway?)

Have you ever sat in your room with an instrument, playing your favorite song over and over until it sounds a little better? Or maybe you’ve met with your friends at the basketball court on a particular day every week, getting better with every game you play? Well, you can apply the same principal to makeup (no pun intended…or maybe I did intend it). Set aside some time to simply sit down and practice doing your makeup (I like to put on some music or a podcast while doing so.)

Allowing yourself that time—however short or long—to experiment and play with your products can alleviate a lot of the pressure to get it right every time. You can turn it into a group activity – just like the basketball players who meet up to practice together. Invite some of your friends over who are also beauty enthusiasts; practice applying makeup together, and of course, cheer each other on! You can even turn it into a spa night by doing facial masks afterward.

4. Take your time!

Patience is key to learning any new skill, and that goes for anyone regardless of sight loss. Even if you’ve been doing your makeup for years, there’s always something new to learn—that’s one of the things I love most about it.

Be patient with yourself. The more you practice (see Tip #3), the more natural it will become to you.

It’s important to remember everyone’s visual capabilities are different. Therefore everyone’s methods of applying makeup may vary. Just because you do something differently or it comes out looking differently than someone else’s, does not mean it’s the wrong way or it’s not good enough. You are good enough.

Image Descriptions:

  • Featured Image – ’90s Grunge Smokey Eye – a collage of four photos. Top left: Clinique High Impact Mascara, Kat Von D Basket Case Anti-Precision Eyeliner, Violet Voss Ride or Die Palette with the shade Skylar circled (a cool-toned medium brown), and a fluffy eyeshadow brush with text saying ’90’s GRUNGE SMOKEY EYE’. Bottom Left: Step 1, applying the black eyeliner. Top Right: Step 2, applying the brown eyeshadow. Bottom Right: Step 3, applying the black mascara.
  • Handheld mirrors – three compact mirrors and a standing desk mirror on a blue velvet sofa.
  • Subtle Eye – a collage of three photos. Top Left: L’Oreal Telescopic Mascara, Violet Voss Ride or Die Palette with the shade Isabella circled (a pale shimmery pink), and a fluffy eyeshadow brush with text saying ‘SUBTLE EYE’. Bottom Left: Step 1, applying the pink eyeshadow. Bottom Right: Step 2, applying the black mascara.
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5 Things Blind People Shouldn’t Have To Justify To Anyone

5 Things Blind People image description is in the body of the post.

Too many times we presume to know another person’s story based on little to no information. My friend and blogger extraordinaire, Maria Johnson, speaks to this topic from the perspective of one who is blind. I propose instead of erring on the side of caution or presumption, let’s err on the side of kindness and respect by expressing our words and thoughts carefully. 

5 Things Blind People Shouldn’t Have To Justify To Anyone | By Maria Johnson | Girl Gone Blind

I have learned that when I feel the need to justify myself, some part of me is almost always of the opinion that others must be right and I must be wrong. Defending, explaining, and justifying my choices as a blind person is something I do more than I’d like to. Because some of you don’t know what it’s like to walk in my shoes… I wish you wouldn’t question why I walk the way I do. Here are 5 things blind people shouldn’t have to justify to anyone.

1) When we don’t want to use our white cane. 

Perhaps we find ourselves in a place that is familiar and safe, and we don’t want to use our cane, so we don’t. Maybe we find ourselfs in a situation where we are feeling a bit self-conscious about using our cane, so we don’t. We can, and we will, let the people we’re with know that we feel more comfortable using them as a sighted guide. Our decision doesn’t have to win anyone’s approval. After all, it’s our white cane, not yours, and we will use it at our own discretion.

2) What words we use to describe our vision loss. 

If we are asked about our vision, it is our choice on how we respond. I have heard people say things like, bad eyesight, don’t see very well, vision disability, visually impaired, vision impairment, partially sighted, low vision. We may even use the “B word”…BLIND or legally blind. Some folks don’t like the “B word”, and prefer not to use it. Others may be okay with it, and use it more freely. Obviously…I don’t mind it! Identify your vision loss the way YOU want to and not how anyone else thinks it should be.

3) Why we need blind friendships. 

Our sighted family and friends are never going to truly understand our down days or daily difficulties. How could they? They’re not blind and we would never want them to be. Creating blind friendships through social media, in person, or over the phone, can build a wonderful support network for us. We like to know we’re not alone and that someone else can relate to our troubles and triumphs.

4) Why we may need a helping hand. 

When we ask for help, it’s because…we…want…help! It’s not because we want to annoy you. We may want assistance with something that’s very simple for you, yet difficult for us to do. If we don’t need help, we will gladly tackle the task….. but, giving someone a hand should never be too much to ask. And just in case you’re wondering…yes, yes we can hear the fake friendliness in your voice when you feel forced to oblige.

5) Why we want all the details. 

We want to hear what we can’t see. Why do you think they created “audio description” for movies and TV shows? Because Us blind kids want to know what’s going on. That’s why! Giving us the details about what surrounding us or in front of us is more than just small talk. You’re fueling our visual imagination and enabling us to feel included. Paint the picture and fill in the blanks….and don’t even think of leaving out the juicy details!  Inquiring blind minds want to know!

Will the people in your life always support your choices and desires?  No, they won’t.  But you need to remember that life is not about justifying yourself; it’s about creating a happy life. A life that happens to include vision loss. Your friends and family can walk with you, but not in your shoes.  So, make sure the path you decide to walk aligns with your own decisions. You shouldn’t have to justify your who, what, where, when, and whys to anyone.  ~ Well, THAT’S what I think!

Aside from the misconceptions blind people face daily, the barrier of access to information is huge (see point 5). This blog post was originally published on November 6, 2016, on wwwgirlgoneblind.comMaria Johnson, the owner of Girl Gone Blind, is a mom, group fitness instructor, blogger, podcaster, and a radio contributor. 

5 Things Blind People… Featured Image Description

Close-up image of Maria’s outstretched hand with fingers splayed. The image is blurred to place the focus on her hand. She is standing outside wearing a black long-sleeve top and foliage is in the background.

You can connect with Maria on the following links to her social media platforms: