Eight months ago, when I decided to take the plunge into the world of blogging, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. All I had was an idea and the hope that someone out there in the vast Internet universe would appreciate my humor about blindness and motherhood. Throughout this journey I’ve met some fantastically amazing people. By far the most significant, is my friend Stephane (Steph) McCoy who writes her blog, Bold Blind Beauty. This remarkable lady is not only a talented writer and disability activist; she is my kindred spirit in sight loss.
After being diagnosed with glaucoma, a severe case of myopia and macular holes in 2009, Stephane was declared legally blind. The ever graceful fashionista, Steph began to volunteer at local Pittsburg blind organizations. It was because of that keen fashion sense that she was asked to give a presentation to a group of women who were living with vision loss.
While preparing for her talk with these women, Steph started thinking about the lack of information on the Internet for ladies with sight loss who wanted to maintain a regular beauty regime. The experience inspired her so much that she created her blog, “Bold, Blind, Beauty” to continue the dialogue.
Through her wonderful posts, my kindred spirit Stephane helps answer some of the many questions the visually impaired community and her sighted readers have about maintaining beauty with blindness.
Why should a blind person care about how they look if they can’t see?
How can a blind person shop unassisted?
How can you apply makeup with a visual impairment?
Steph credits her inspirational grandmother for instilling in her that “true beauty comes from within.” Bold Blind Beauty doesn’t diminish this age old adage; it reinforces it. Stephane’s blog empowers women to love themselves while promoting self-confidence. She believes no amount of vision loss should prevent any woman from learning how to match their outward appearance to their inner glam!
Steph is completely authentic in sharing her experiences of adjusting to her own blindness. She tactfully and skillfully divulges every helpful detail that she has used to maintain her own sense of fashion. She is truly a diva in her own right.
“When a person can walk in confidence, regardless of the status of their life—that is beautiful!” – Stephanae McCoy
Most bloggers have an icon or logo associated with their blog. For Bold Blind Beauty, Stephane wanted to create a symbol that represented both fashion forward women and the visually impaired. With the help of artist, Jennifer, Barrile, “Abigail” was born. Bold Blind Beauty subscribers developed her name as a play on the word “abilities,” and Nightingale (the small bird know for it’s beautiful song).
Abigail is an artful figure of a woman in high heels, carrying both her handbag and a white cane. Her hair is blowing in the wind, because like most women, she’s always on the move. She’s dressed in a beautiful feather dress that exudes femininity. Abigail is a symbol of bold, blind, confidence.
Stephane’s mission for Abigail is two fold – embolden women who are visually impaired or blind to embrace their vision loss and eradicate the negative stigma attached to the many forms of visual impairments.
Abigail Style Boutique
In 2016, Stephanae McCoy launched her online apparel and novelties boutique, Abigail Style. Her products are designed to promote the message to “improve humanity we must change the way blindness is perceived.” All Abigail Style merchandise carry her signature stylish image and fun slogans. Currently the products offered are women’s, men’s and children’s t-shirts, women’s tanks, coffee mugs, tote bags and iPhone 6/6s cases.
When Stephane first told me she was going to open Abigail Style, without a doubt I wanted to be supportive. I planned on purchasing my own shirts to wear to promote her worthy cause. Shortly after her shop opened, I placed my order.
I bought a “Blind Chicks with Attitude” mug and t-shirt that reads “Relax It’s Only A Cane.” I also purchased two t-shirts for my daughters that said “My Mommy is Bold, Blind and Beautiful.” All the shirts are soft, vibrantly colored and wash beautifully. I have tea in my Abigail mug daily and it’s held up perfectly after countless trips through my dishwasher.
While Aoife is still too little to understand, Nuala happily points to the words on her shirt and says, “My mommy is bold, blind and beautiful.” Such a simple thing to a little girl, but not so simple to a mommy who very often does not feel beautiful.
Lessons from my Kindred Spirit
Unlike kindred spirit Stephanae, I’ve never had a gift for fashion. Yoga pants and oversized t-shirts have always been my comfort zone. I can easily slide into panic mode at the mere thought of having to buy clothing for an “adult-type” event.
That being said, to hear my daughter say those powerful words, “My mommy is bold, blind, and beautiful” resonates deeply with me.
My aspirations for my daughters are “bold.” I want both my girls to equate my “boldness” with unwavering determination in the face of many health related obstacles.
Yes, their mother is “blind.” However, being visually impaired will not prevent me from being an ever present female force in their lives.
As I’ve already said, I’ve never been someone who has felt outwardly “beautiful.” When I look at myself in the mirror, I can barely make out my own reflection.
My husband loves me dearly, but he’s not the emotional type who spews out poetry or compares my looks with the moonlight. Frankly, I’d probably make fun of him mercilessly if he did. But since having our daughters, he has encouraged me to stop any negative self talk about my looks. I’m trying to be better. I’m trying to own being “bold”, “blind” and (dare I say it) “beautiful.”
As a mother, I want my daughters to know I will never let my visual impairment stop me from being the woman they need me to be. I want my girls to love themselves first, embracing every perfect imperfection that makes them unique. The best way to teach them that is the be the kind of woman who models that behavior for them. It’s a struggle.
Stephanae is currently working on a hashtag campaign, #abbyonthemove, where she is asking her supporters to snap a picture of themselves wearing or using her products and share it on social media.
If you are blind or visually impaired, check out Stephanae’s blog, take a look at Abigail Style, or buy a shirt to support her movement. 10% of all her profits are donated to the Employment Services Division of Blind and Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh. Send a message to the world that the perceptions of sight loss need to change. Let’s help this glam fairy, my kindred spirit, spread her sparkle across the world wide web. #Abbyonthemove #Boldblindbeauty.