BARE IT ALL: NAKED EYE
“How do I look?”
How many times have women spoken these words throughout their lives? To their moms, dads, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, grandmas, girlfriends, boyfriends, friends, lovers, partners, fiancés, husbands, ex-husbands, wives, and more deeply--themselves.
You say it to yourself everytime you see your reflection in the mirror, getting dressed up, putting on your makeup. Then you say it again once you're undressed and bare faced.
You’ve heard the answer to that question. Some answers make you smile, some make you cry, and some make you laugh. Some touched you deeply, some you’ll never forget, and some you already have. Validation in the form of a compliment. Confirmation of what you felt, but you wanted or needed to hear it from another.
Imagine the best answer you got and whom from. How you felt. How you looked.
Now close your eyes. And imagine you can’t see yourself in a mirror, though others can see you.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
- Margaret Wolfe Hungerford, 'Molly Bawn' (1878)
A beholder is an observer: someone who gains awareness of things through the senses, especially sight. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then the person who is observing gets to decide what is beautiful.
But what if the beholder is blind? How do individuals who are visually impaired or blind perceive beauty in others, in themselves? How do they feel beauty, touch beauty, smell beauty, even taste beauty?
It must be a journey, for some, long, and for others, longer still. But there is light and there is love.
And this is a story of both…
Bare It All: Naked Eye
a “Bare It All” photography project and testimonial with Annie.
Photographer's recreation of how Annie describes her vision in her left eye.
Her right eye is completely blind.
Ocular Histoplasmosis is an eye disease that is a leading cause of vision loss, due to the spread of spores of the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum from the lungs to the eye where they lodge in the choroid (a layer of blood vessels that provides blood and nutrients to the retina). Soil contaminated by bird or bat droppings also can spread histoplasmosis, putting farmers and landscapers at a higher risk of the disease. It enters the air when people disturb soil when plowing fields, sweeping chicken coops, digging holes, and during demolition or cleanup projects.
Most people with histoplasmosis never develop symptoms and aren't aware they're infected. But for some people, primarily infants and those with compromised immune systems, histoplasmosis can be serious, and is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans ages 20 to 40.
Thus was the case for Annie, who was a premature baby growing up on a farm with a low immune system. Born with perfect eyesight, Annie started having symptoms as a child and it progressed through her body until she started losing her sight and was diagnosed with Ocular Histoplasmosis at the age of 24.
She became completely blind in her right eye, her left eye vision decreasing aggressively even after multiple surgeries. Going from 20/20 to 20/2600. Through her left eye she sees everything jagged and blurred and it grows continuously darker.
“There has been a lot of differences before and after my eyesight about my body and how I feel about it. I’ve always been insecure about my body, even when I could see it, and I was always ashamed of it. And then when I started loosing my sight, I felt very fearful because I couldn’t see anymore what I knew was there, so I really struggled with that for a long time,” Annie remembers.
“I have gone through a very long journey. I’ve had major depression, panic attacks out in public. I have all kinds of accidents where I fall all the time. I’ve felt very alone, and have had to see a therapist over it,” she explains.
It’s taken over 20 years for Annie to start to feel like herself again...
“I’m starting now to get a sense of my hope back again and figure out who I am in all this now. I’m starting to get back into my own skin.”
“I have just recently began to step out of my comfort zone and I’m telling myself everyday that I am better now. I am more of who I am now than I used to be, because I have a better sense of what I am about,” Annie admits.
“I wanted to do the Bare It All Project, because I want people to see me how I no longer see myself.”
“This whole experience was very freeing. It was very empowering. I embraced it with everything in me, and I let my fierceness and my boldness come out, and I just felt sexy and I felt seductive, and I felt so awesome… Very beautiful and very delicate and very sensual during this photoshoot. My beauty fells like it cam from within and showed that manifestation.”
Close your eyes again. Be thankful there are women like Annie to remind us that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, and even if we can’t see it with our naked eye, we can feel it.
"Bare It All: Naked Eye" - Annie - For Your Eyes Boudoir Photography
“Bare It All: Naked Eye” is part of For Your Eyes Boudoir Photography’s “Bare It All” project, a series of themed photoshoots highlighting the beauty of women of all ages, sizes, races, and life journeys.
Be sure to view our other “Bare It All” sessions - here.
To be considered for a future "Bare It All" project... Tell us more about your story.
Photography by Ben Murray