Model: Johnnie Mae Holmes
Visually Impaired

Volunteer, Here to Bloom Foundation

When I was born, I was able to see and experience life through my five senses. I was shy and withdrawn. I wore glasses until I was diagnosed with detached retinas at the age of 30. After multiple surgeries, I was later diagnosed with legal blindness. Shortly after my diagnosis, my father and sister passed away. Feelings of despair and unwillingness to live took over my life. I was full of self-pity and feelings of sadness that led me to complete isolation. I even resigned from the volunteer position I held as a direct case worker helping individuals with disabilities.

One day, I received a call from a childhood friend who had lost his sight, memory, and who was afflicted with other medical health conditions. His support inspired me to create a new sense for living and a path in life.

Blindness has taught me many things. What I once felt was a curse, I sense now is a blessing. When I would once hide my face in a towel, I now show my face with pride. When I once preferred complete isolation, I am now in complete socialization.

When I once did not have a voice, I now advocate for individuals with vision impairments to be treated as equal members of society. What I do now know is that we must treat each person as we would like to be treated. Just because I am blind does not mean I have lost my essence or willingness to live. I am still present.

Participating in the Bold Beauty Project brought a new sense to my life. Even though I cannot see my picture nor do I know what I look like, I feel like a queen, an Egyptian princess high up on her throne. This is an experience of a lifetime that I wish everyone could enjoy as I have.

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” — Helen Keller


Photographed by Al Diaz