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Women’s History Month: An Interview with Stephanae McCoy
In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re learning about women making a difference who also have a visual impairment. We interviewed Stephanae McCoy about how losing her sight led to her founding her own business, Bold Blind Beauty.
Stephanae’s sight loss journey spanned over four years. It began with the development of a macular hole, which led to further complications and eventually a glaucoma diagnosis. After many pokes, prods, and laser surgeries, Stephanae’s sight deteriorated, and she was declared legally blind.
Founding Bold Blind Beauty
Stephanae decided to create Bold Blind Beauty when she was asked to give a presentation on makeup for a group of women who were blind and had low vision. Unable to find information about the topic online, Stephanae created the presentation based on her own process of applying makeup.
“There was such a great discussion afterward I knew I had to do something to address the void in this area,” said Stephanae. “Bold Blind Beauty began as a blog to empower women on the blindness spectrum. It has since evolved into an advocacy platform that demystifies blindness through storytelling and the celebration of our diverse and inclusive community through empowerment, connection, and barrier-breaking.”
Today, Bold Blind Beauty offers several services. One of these services, The Beyond Sight Magazine, aims to highlight members of the blindness community through storytelling. Other services offered are the Virtual Work Experience Program for high school/college students with disabilities, InSIGHT Through Inclusion Speaker Series, Ambassador Program, and the Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. Podcast.
The Impact of Bold Blind Beauty: Q&A with Stephanae
Q: The mission of Bold Blind Beauty is to “improve humanity by changing the way we perceive one another.” Why is this mission important to you?
A: The mission is so important to me because people are important. From the time I was very young, I recognized I was different simply because of the color of my skin. Today, as a woman over 60 with an acquired disability, I am intimately aware of what discrimination feels like. Because of my lived experience, I firmly believe that no one wants, or deserves, to be reduced.
People who are perceived as different have to justify their existence because other people and systems refuse to accept them as they are. Everyone has biases, and it’s up to us…to acknowledge our bigotry and work on ourselves. This work isn’t easy, and…we need to leave our assumptions at the door so that we can learn to fully embrace people without judgment. The work of changing perceptions begins within each of us, and it’s ongoing.
Q: How does the mission of Bold Blind Beauty benefit the blindness community?
A: The mission benefits the blindness community because we believe everyone has value. By sharing our stories, we prove to the world that even though we are on the blindness spectrum, this doesn’t prevent us from being productive members of society. We simply move through the world a little differently, and this is our superpower.
Q: What does beauty look like to you?
A: Beauty looks like courage to me. Having the courage to be uniquely me is beautiful.
Q: Can you tell us about the acronyms A.I.R. and BLIND? How have these acronyms helped change people’s perceptions of blindness?
A: A.I.R. stands for Access, Inclusion, and Representation. These are the main themes on Bold Blind Beauty, which is why we created the podcast Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. Everyone needs air to survive. People with disabilities need A.I.R. to survive and thrive. BLIND = Bold Leaders Illuminating New Directions. This acronym was our positive take on the word “blind.” Anyone can be a Bold Leader Illuminating New Directions.
Q: How do you hope Bold Blind Beauty impacts the future history for women who are blind?
A: It’s my hope that women who are on the blindness spectrum and are making huge moves will become more largely recognized.
Q: What do you hope people will take away or learn from visiting your website?
A: I hope that people will take away the idea that appreciating differences and accepting people where they are is at the heart of humanity. When we take the time to stop, listen, and learn from others’ lived experiences, the tapestry of life becomes more enriched. Many of us look at adventurers and risk-takers as bold people. However, depending on where we are in our stories, being bold can be something as simple as getting out of bed. For onlookers, it takes a bold person to open their hearts and minds to understand that differences are beautiful.
Visit boldblindbeauty.com, subscribe to the Beyond Sight Magazine, and engage with the community within the Bold Blind Beauty Facebook Group.
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