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Fashion Trends Surge Among Blind and Visually Impaired Community

Tri collage of me posing in front of my counter with my white cane wearing a black off the shoulder choker top, white jeans, black suede chunky high heels and silver jewelry..

Fashion Trends Surge Among Blind and Visually Impaired Community

I wrote the following article (posted 3/14/2018) for VisionAware.org:   

Editor’s Note: The week of March 11 was World Glaucoma Week. Peer advisor Steph McCoy, Founder, and CEO of Bold Blind Beauty, has written eloquently about her journey with this eye condition. As a real fashionista, in this post, she shares her thoughts on fashion trends, an important topic as Spring approaches. 

Does Loss of Vision Equal Frumpy?

There’s a misconception that sight loss equals frumpy and unfashionable. Likewise, there’s a silent societal expectation where people with sight loss shouldn’t be fashionable.

The truth is, there are people with sight who either have no interest in or lack fashion sense. Also true, there are people who are blind or have sight loss, and they are fashionistas.

Thankfully, maintaining a sense of style and keeping a finger on the pulse of trends isn’t wholly reliant on eyesight. Like anything else, we can continue to enjoy and immerse ourselves in the world of fashion if we desire.

While the fashion industry still has a way to go where inclusion is concerned, the Internet has improved access to information. The Internet has made it possible for individuals with disabilities to become mouthpieces for change.

Fashion Trends Resources with Persons Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired In Mind

Today, there are many blind and visually impaired fashion content creators with plenty room for more. With this in mind, here are few tips to help a person who is blind or visually impaired remain connected to fashion.

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

  • When you know your style, stick with it.
  • Keep it simple and classic.
  • For trendsetters, taking risks is part of the fun in fashion, continue doing what you do.

Expand Your Fashion Resource Network

  • Follow and engage with fashion bloggers, vloggers, and writers. You can find them on blogging platforms, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
  • Read about and discuss the latest trends, styles, and seasonal colors with friends who have similar tastes and interests.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help from someone you trust who will give you honest feedback.
  • Testing new looks? Take photos and share with your trusted online community or friends and family for feedback.

Easy Low Tech Fashion Resources

QVC does a remarkable job in describing their merchandise. Following is a small sampling of their fashion segments.

  • Morning Q Live – Style Edition
  • Amy’s Closet (Amy Stran)
  • Denim & Co.
  • Susan Graver Style

Seek Professional Assistance

  • Professional consultants develop in-depth personal profiles to suit individual needs
  • Personal Shopper/Styling Service
  • Beauty Consultant
  • Image Consultant

Final Note

As blind and visually impaired people, we face our share of barriers. We are not what’s happened to us, and we have the power of choice. Thankfully, we can choose how to move forward with our lives and allow fashion to play a role.

Featured Image Description:

Tri collage of “yours truly” posing in front of my counter with my white cane wearing a black off the shoulder choker top, white jeans, black suede chunky high heels and silver jewelry.

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STEM Career Expo: Adventure Of A Lifetime

STEM Featured image description is in the body of the post.

“We will always have STEM with us. Some things will drop out of the public eye and will go away, but there will always be science, engineering, and technology. And there will always, always be mathematics.” ~Katherine Johnson

Photo of the braille bound agenda, information on Bold Blind Beauty, and resources. The cover is a translucent textured plastic. Braille copies were provided by Miamia Accessible Media Project.
Braille bound materials provided by Miami Accessible Media Project

So I got to hang out at the STEM Career Expo held at Carnegie Mellon University yesterday where I spoke about How Losing My Sight Expanded My Vision during a breakout session. The room was full of amazing young ladies who are blind and visually impaired and eager to make their mark. It was an honor for me to talk with these students and assure them that with desire they can achieve anything.

The agenda was simple:

  • During introductions, we shared our passions and what brought us to the STEM event
  • We talked about eating elephants. You know elephants like:
    • an elephant called deceit
    • the elephant of self-doubt
    • an elephant called the naysayers
    • the elephant of blindness
  • A day at the office is like an episode on Survivor
    • a little guidance on navigating office politics
  • Then lastly I shared a few resources

I have a recording of the breakout session which I’ll share once the video is edited down to a couple of minutes.

A Resounding Success

While I was initially concerned about how the STEM event would turn out, my worries were unnecessary. When I couldn’t get into my Spanx I was sure it was a bad omen. Had I got them on I probably would have ended up in the ER because I couldn’t breathe. See how things work out?

At any rate, I met this handsome robot named Baxter built by the brilliant CMU technology students. Baxter was designed to assist blind and visually impaired people with navigation in an indoor setting. As a fan of Lost in Space, I was so blown away by a life-size robot I can’t remember his capabilities. Isn’t he the cutest though?

In this photo I am posing with the robot named Baxter. He sits on a gray base with wheels, has a black stand (body) and red arms. There is also a small screen where his face would be.
Me and my beau Baxter.

 

6 foot vertical banner of Abigale and Bold Blind Beauty contact information
6 foot vertical banner of Abigale

STEM Featured Image Description:

My Vision Rehabilitation Teacher (Stephanie Van) and I are standing on either side of an easel holding a poster board of the Bold Blind Beauty breakout session. We are outside of the conference room where the session was held. Stephanie has short blond hair and is wearing eyeglasses, a pink floral flowy tunic top, and black pants. I’m wearing a navy flyaway jacket trimmed in a gold print with navy and gold print pants with a cream top and cream shoes. Both Stephanie and I are posing with our white canes.

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7-Step Recipe To Survive Extreme Cold

“The cold never bothered me anyway.” ~Elsa, Frozen

A parka is awesome in cold weather. This one is an olive, fur-trimmed hooded parka with gold accents. Roomy pockets and faux-leather trim around the pockets and zipper/snaps.
Photo doesn’t do the parka justice b

I sure hope the cold wouldn’t bother Elsa, she is the Snow Queen in Disney’s Frozen after all. Me, I’m the exact opposite.

Since anything lower than 70 degrees is cold to me, I’d never survive arctic-like weather for any amount of time. You’ll never find me gracefully walking up a snow-clad mountain, in nothing more than a gown, cape, and one glove, singing no less.

Take this morning, for example, it was 3 degrees below zero. I was enjoying a steaming cup of coffee while catching up on a few of my favorite blogs when it happened. Mollie, my ride or die a.k.a. furbaby gives me the signal she’s ready for her daily constitutional.

Gray beanie, gray faux-fur lined and trimmed gloves and multi-colored zig zag striped fringed scarfIt Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken But You’ll Be Warm

One thing I dislike most when it’s this cold is preparing for outdoors. It takes too much time to layer up so as to not succumb to the harsh elements. So I’ve created this little recipe to send the cold packing.

  1. Take 1 bandana for the head, tee-shirt, leggings, and knee-high socks
  2. Next, put on a knit beanie hat, sweatshirt, and fleece pants
  3. Then an over-the-head hooded sweatshirt, pull hood over beanie
  4. Follow up with fuzzy shearling lined, lace-up knee-high boots (tuck in fleece pants)
  5. Add faux-fur-trimmed hooded parka
  6. Next, add faux fur-lined gloves
  7. Finally, tie a scarf around hooded parka to cover face then you’re all set

Black faux-fur lined and trimmed lace-up knee-high winter bootsTwenty minutes later, yeah, thank the lord I don’t have to put on makeup, I grab Mollie’s leash, poo bags, and door keys to venture outside. As soon as I opened the door and felt the wintry blast of snowy cold air I swear we were heading into a polar vortex.

Trudging in the snow while Mollie leaps—somewhat sorta like a graceful gazelle—through the snow-laden grass, my mind begins wandering. I think back to the days of my youth when I pretended the cold didn’t bother me. Then suddenly I realize how content I am where I am.

The cold bothers me 

As Mollie digs in the snow for the perfect spot to do her business I remembered how beautifully poised Elsa appeared yet she had a secret. When she sings “Let It Go” this is where she’s comfortable with who she really is.

I begin thinking of some of the things I am not. I am not a queen, or a princess even, I am not a writer, at times I don’t feel like a blogger, I am not an adventurer, singer, dancer, actress, photographer, artist or philosopher.

No, I may not be many of the things I longed to be and as I get older my mind isn’t as sharp as it once was but there’s freedom with age. Having lived more days than what’s left going forward, I can be unapologetically selective, to do what’s best for me instead of following the crowd. Standing up for myself, treasuring my time, and speaking my mind is more important than seeking approval.

I am still a work in progress, learning new things every day and striving for balance instead of perfection. Oh, and before I forget, after 10 minutes or thereabouts Mollie did her thing and I’m safely ensconced in my cozy home.

Have a great weekend and stay warm!!

 

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When Confidence Wanes, Rest, Rebuild, Recover

Description is in the body of the post.

“Like everything else in our lives, confidence ebbs and flows. Confidence requires constant maintenance. It’s also important to remember even on those days when confidence is lacking it’s not fatal. Take some time, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and when you feel the moment is right, carry on.”

Photo of me sitting on my bar stool with my white cane in hand wearing the outfit described in the post.After being sick for the past few weeks, this week is the first I’ve felt truly rejuvenated in some time. When I can’t work my to-do list my confidence slips, and I fall into the cycle of depression and anxiety.

Living in a time when social media has changed the way we interact with one another is stressful. Being away from it for a day can seem like weeks, any longer can seem like a lifetime. If you are a writer, blogger, entrepreneur or anyone who relies on the internet to connect with your audience you understand the importance of the frequency and consistency of posting content.

So what do you do when life gets in the way of your passion?

  1. Make the most of the present when you’re feeling your best. When inspiration hits use it to create content in advance.
  2. Organize – An excel spreadsheet is a great tool for managing content data.
    • A weekly posting schedule broken out by day, time, type of content, and social media platform will allow you to see at a glance how your content schedule will flow.
    • The content schedule will contain more detailed content information for each day of the month. For example title, status, due date, publish date, time, type of content, author, distribution channels, meta tags, and notes.
  3. Schedule – Social media management tools like Hootsuite, for example, save time since you can post to multiple platforms at the same time.
    • Using the publishing tool to schedule posts in advance means you can set it and forget it.
  4. Let it go. The world will continue to go on even if you cannot so when you’re down, allow yourself to rest, rebuild your strength and recover, you won’t regret it.

I felt so fabulous this week I took the opportunity to show my goofy side and went for it in the photo in today’s post.

What I Wore Description:

Bathroom mirror selfie. My head is tilted to the side as I make a semi-duck lip look. I’m wearing my black faux-shearling & faux-suede knit-trim jacket or sweater. What I like most about this sweater, aside from keeping me warm, are the multi textures. It’s a heavy knit with soft fur and velvety smooth suede panels on the front. I wore a simple black tee under the jacket/sweater and paired them with blue jeans and black suede wedge mules.

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Shading The Windows To The Soul…

Or Deception Is Our Nature

Description is in the body of the post.
Full-length mirror selfie

Who doesn’t like feeling and looking their best especially when you’re preparing for a special event? But what about those times when you feel like pond scum? This question I faced a few days ago as I was getting ready for another followup appointment with my ophthalmologist.

Over the past two weeks, I had one emergency room, one doctor, two ophthalmologist visits, antibiotics, steroids, and anti-inflammatories, and all over one eye, my good eye. After I recovered from the flu it began with a minor itch in the corner of my eye, then blossomed into an aching, swollen, mess that has me couped up and practically bathing in antibacterial products.

Needless to say, makeup has been out of the question but what’s a girl to do when she has to go to a follow-up appointment? She breaks out the heavy artillery. That’s right, a dress, boots, fur vest and the most important item dark oversized shades. Adding a little lip color and no one was the wiser, all I had to do was keep my gear on.

Description is in the body of the post.
Left to right shows improvement in the left eye.

I actually felt better and couldn’t help secretly smiling knowing I was such a sight under my sunglasses. As my son and I waited until we were called in to see the doctor he gave me the sweetest compliment saying “yeah mom, you look nice but I wouldn’t expect any different because deception is the nature of your sex,” I burst out laughing. He has such a way with words and who’d thought his sexist comment would become the title of my blog post?

Even though I’m still not 100 percent laughter always makes me feel better and I try to find humor all around me. Not taking myself so seriously has truly helped me survive what I may have once thought wasn’t survivable.

Description: In the full-length mirror selfie I am wearing a burgundy and black floral wrap dress, black suede knee-high boots, gray faux fur vest, silver earrings, stretchy cuff bracelet. I must have been sick because I totally forgot to sport my burgundy booties, oh well there be another time.

The collage of four selfies shows the improvement in the swelling of my left eye. In the two upper photos, the eye is nearly swollen shut. In the bottom two pictures, the eye is opening.

Do you have any tricks up your sleeve when you’re not feeling your best? Please do tell, you’re among friends here.

 

 

 

 

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Cozy, Comfy & Cute – Autumn Wear’s 3 Cs

Cooler temperatures dictate chunky sweaters and one of my personal faves, a reversible cape.

Tri collage consisting of two photos of me standing and one sitting posing with my white cane in front of my counter.In the collage I’m wearing a tan dolman sleeve sweater and a leopard print scarf, with black leggings, black patent tasseled loafers, and a navy/gray cowl cape. The snaps which create large armholes enables even greater versatility of the cape as I can wear it as a wrap. The wool blend keeps me nice and toasty in the autumn chill.

Opting for flats instead of heels made this outfit even more comfortable without compromising the fabulous feeling I get from wearing a cape. Additional cute combos can be achieved by pairing with jeans & over the knee boots, long skirt & ankle boots, dress pants & heels. Whatever you choose, with the right bag, shades, or optional hat, you’ll be ready to conquer the universe.

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Shoe Shopping Without Eyesight

Nine Ideas To Help You Find Shoes You’ll Love

Brown shoe box with a black patent leather loafer with tassels on top of the boxLast week I went shoe shopping. The timing was perfect. It’s the end of the summer season and I was able to take advantage of sales, markdowns, and bargains.

Shopping when blind means I have to use my remaining senses to experience what I once took for granted. Since I’m no longer able to drive, I’ve resorted to buying shoes online but occasionally a visit to the store is in order.

So, I went to my fallback – having my son drive me to the store. But this time it was different. I was abandoned!

As we drove to the front of the store, he stopped and said, “I’ll be back.”

“What?” I exclaimed. “What do you mean ‘you’ll be back’? Why aren’t you coming in with me?”

He responded, “Mom, you’ll be fine. Remember how you used to love coming here by yourself?”

Sheepishly I said, “Yeah, uh, but that was before, you know (dramatic and almost panicky tone here; scratch that I began whining), I went blind.”

“Mom, I’ve got some running around to do. You’ll be fine.”

Tri collage of me posing in my new shoes. I'm wearing black jeans, black top and a black velvet fringed kimono with red flowers.I begged, threatened, sulked and cried, but my son was unmoved and gone like the wind. So as soon as I got my bearings, I unfolded my white cane and boldly went forth into the store where no blind woman (at least not this one) had gone before and tried to find shoes.

I began the lengthy process of going up and down the long aisles to look at each pair. At first, it was frustrating, but I must admit it felt good. Actually, great. Shopping independence again!

Overall, my experience was a good one. I took pictures of the shoes I tried on and sent them to my friends for opinions. It all worked out. But going forward, if I’m alone again when I shop, I would do some things differently.

Here are nine ideas that may be helpful to you. If you can, shop with a friend who loves shoes and whose judgment you know and trust. But if that’s not possible, know that you certainly can enjoy the freedom of shopping by yourself.

Nine Shoe Finding Tips You’ll Love

  1. Before you go, read about and discuss the latest trends, styles and seasonal colors with friends and family who have similar tastes and interests and try to have some ideas about your preferences before you arrive at the store
  2. Call ahead and tell them you are blind or visually impaired, that you’ll be shopping and may need some assistance
  3. When you enter the store, ask an associate about the layout to make it easier to find your shoes
  4. Use the store’s shopping bag to gather several pairs of shoes to try on in one sitting
  5. Wear a backpack-style or over-the-head strapped purse to keep it on your body and off your mind while trying on shoes
  6. Have personal footies that match your skin tone
  7. Ask the associate if they could take photos of you wearing the shoes you try on
  8. When ringing up, and if it’s not a talking scanner, have the salesperson call out the shoes as they’re scanned – this checks your items one more time before purchasing, and secondly, confirms you’re paying the correct amount; and if available, use a talking barcode scanner
  9. And finally, boldly wear and enjoy your beautiful new shoes!

My eyesight may be gone, but my passion for shoe shopping has been restored.

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Delight In Your Feminity

Description is on body of post.Pictures are great but they don’t always tell the whole story. For many of us on social media our pictures tell the story we want to convey which can be in stark contrast to our reality.

As an advocate working to change perceptions on blindness and sight loss, my pictures attempt to show confidence from a blind perspective. What they don’t show is my insecurity but that’s okay because I know who I am and I don’t want to come across as someone I am not.

I’m not perfect, far from it. I laugh at my foibles, quirks, and even the changes in my body I cannot control. I love the uplifting feeling that takes place when I throw on some hair, do nakeup, and get dressed to face the world but make no mistake I am the same person before and after. I love being feminine and encourage others who want to feel the same way to do so despite what life throws your way.

Delight in your femininity. Love you. Validate you. Trust you. As you begin each day remind yourself that you are enough. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and reject the notion that you have to fit in. Be courageous, be authentic, know your worth. ~Steph

Image: Tri collage of me posing in front of my counter wearing black leggings, three-quarter dolman sleeve top looks sort of gray, orange pointed toe slingback flats, black obi belt, black leather short necklace with a silver pendant, and silver drop earrings.

Have a great Monday!!

#whitecane #confidence #independence #blindness #blindnessawarenss

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Beauty Is A Tapestry Of Inclusivity

“Oh, Look She Knows Where She’s Going!”

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Have you ever left your house feeling so good that nothing could bring you down? You know, those days when you’re sporting a new hairdo, outfit, manicure, or you’re just feeling flat-out fabulous?

Recently, I had such a day. The weather was gorgeous and I was so looking forward to lunching with several friends I hadn’t seen in a while.

After my ride dropped me off, and I headed to the meeting place I heard a woman say “Oh, look she knows where she’s going!” An innocent enough comment and I suppose it didn’t have to be about me, after all, there were a number of people milling about the outdoor plaza. However, since I heard it just as I passed by slightly irked me.

I mean here I was, all decked out in my new cork mules, coordinating top, white jeans, and gray hooded vest. Granted my mules were a tad high and I get how the idea of heels and white cane use may seem incongruous but could there be more to the story?

What the person didn’t know about me was number 1, yes, I knew where I was going because I worked there for 13 years. Number 2 the significance of the white cane doesn’t mean a person can’t hear.

Description in body of post.

One of the core messages of Bold Blind Beauty is transcending barriers by changing the way we perceive one another. The only way to achieve this goal is by sharing our stories, getting out there and living.

All too often we make assumptions and come to conclusions without knowing the full story. Social media help fuel a massive amount of misunderstandings because people don’t read an entire message, take it out of context or believe something simply because it’s posted. It is so easy to have our say with a couple of keystrokes it almost seems like we forget the targets of our comments are human.

People with disabilities are human, people without disabilities human, people with deformities are human, people without deformities are human, people of different cultures, races, rich, poor, overweight, underweight, young, old, tall, short, well, sick are all human.

Could we try to think before we speak or hit a key on the keyboard? While I know there are many who wouldn’t agree, this world is beautiful because of its diversity.

What I Wore:

Sleeveless navy top with tiny polka dots, white jeans, navy cork block heeled mules, light gray hooded vest, silver jewelry, and my white cane. In the photos, I am standing in front of my counter.

A different world cannot be built by indifferent people. ~Peter Marshall

Have a great day!

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Fabulous, Functional & Frugal Fashion Tip #30

Scarf Vest Adds Zest To Jeans & Tee

Photo description is in the body of the postAfter downsizing your wardrobe having less to choose from allows for more creativity. A fun way to spice up your jean/tee outfit is making a lightweight summer vest from a long scarf. It’s as simple as one knot.

The scarf I used in the pictures is a long 72″ x 38″ blue and white decorative paisley pattern.

1. Fold lengthwise in half
2. Tie ends together (the short loose ends and the short folded ends)
3. Open up to show armholes
4. Slip arms through armholes
5. Presto chango you now have a long chic vest!

Image: Tri collage of me posed standing in front of my counter holding my white cane. I’m wearing black crisscross strapped heels, cuffed skinny jeans, black tee topped with scarf vest, silver-toned long beaded fringe necklace, silver-toned cutout cuff bracelet, silver-toned beaded embellished hoop earrings.

Happy Friday!!

Steph

 

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If Variety Is The Spice…

Then Simplicity Is The Entrée

White tee, white jeans, striped yellow & white wedges, long gray hooded vest and white cane.Today’s world is moving at such a hectic pace it’s getting increasingly harder to keep up. Even though all of us operate within the same 24-hour parameter it can feel like there’s never enough time to do all we need or want to accomplish.

Since dealing with family situations, health related issues, financial problems, and just life, in general, can be overwhelming scaling back can be a helpful solution. Simplicity makes it a little easier by taking stress levels down a few notches and retaining sanity.

Tribal print sleeveless top, white jeans, striped yellow & white wedges, and white cane.I used to buy into the whole “variety is the spice of life” theory until I began to feel bogged down. It’s been almost a year since I started the process of getting rid of things I don’t want or need. While thinning out my wardrobe was a challenge I eagerly looked forward to, limiting the number of shoes I would keep caused me a bit of anxiety but I continue onward.

In today’s photos, I’m wearing two separate outfits with my favorite white jeans (the only pair I own) and yellow & white striped wedges. The only difference between the outfits are the tops. By the way, I’m not ashamed to admit I wear these jeans at least once a week.

It really isn’t necessary to have a ton of different clothes, shoes, and accessories to mix things up. Using a couple of key pieces, in this case, the jeans and shoes with different tops and handbags create different looks.

Life is difficult enough without the added worry of what to wear. Style doesn’t require a vast assortment of things.

Collage Descriptions:

  1. Posed standing in three photos wearing a white tee, white jeans, striped yellow & white wedges, long gray hooded vest and white cane.
  2. Seated on a bar stool wearing a black/white/tan tribal print sleeveless top, white jeans, striped yellow & white wedges, and white cane.

 

 

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Fabulous, Functional & Frugal Fashion Tip #29

Flying Down The Freeway? Nah, I’m Good

“You’re welcome” and please there’s no need to say thank you because it’s already assumed.😉

When offered the opportunity to ride in your son or daughter’s brand spankin’ new convertible sports car do not and I repeat do NOT wear your wig.  The end result can leave your “hair” as roadkill.🤣

Our little road trip reaffirmed my stance that I am not now, never have been, and more than likely never will be, an adventurer. While an excellent driver, my son may be I’m a nervous rider and the experience was more than my fragile nerves could handle.

Abby, on the other hand, would have thoroughly enjoyed herself and would have looked chic in her headscarf and oversized tortoiseshell sunnies.

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!!