Six years ago, 24-year-old Lucy Edwards lost her eyesight due to a rare genetic condition called Incontinentia Pigmenti (IP). "It is so rare, in fact, that it's not even on the list of conditions that may cause blindness. It runs down the female line of my genetics. My mum has Incontinentia Pigmenti, but it doesn't affect her eyes. At age 11, my retina detached in my right eye and, at age 17, the same thing happened in my left, leaving me blind," Lucy told BuzzFeed.
This past summer, Lucy discovered the hashtag #learnontiktok was trending on TikTok. "I thought it would be a good opportunity to show the world how capable a blind person can be. I realized that not even some of my closest friends know how I do certain daily tasks," said Lucy. So, she started making videos showing people how she does everyday tasks.
"Doing my makeup as a blind girl has been such a journey. Typically, it is a very visual task, but now I rely on muscle memory, mapping out my own face by touch, not sight — and using tried and tested products. I would not be able to do it without a really organized makeup bag! It has taken years to get where I am today. My gorgeous sister, Alice, has described hours of otherwise inaccessible makeup tutorials to me over the years. It has become a hobby we do together. She believed in me when no one else did," Lucy said, adding, "Makeup, to me, is a symbol of my sight-loss journey — proving that the bad things that happen in life don't define me. It is how I get back up from the difficult moments that do. I may have lost my sight, but not my vision."
Lucy said when she first lost her eyesight, she didn't think she would ever be herself again. "I fought to get myself back because I lost some of my childhood. I had to grow up quicker than all of my friends. I had to relearn how to do everything. How to read, write, use a computer with a screen reader — you name it. I did all this while remembering and mourning the loss of how I used to do it so easily," she said.
"The hardest thing to learn for me was braille. To read it, your brain has to rewire itself. This is why I love TikTok, though. I am proud that I can show everyone how I can be an independent blind woman — because I fought to be one. Yes, there are things that I will never be able to do, but I want to show the world that there is life after sight loss," she added.
Lucy said everyone on TikTok has been so lovely to her. "People are genuinely curious about how I do things in my day-to-day life. I am so happy that so many people want to learn about my life and my disability. It wasn't something I learned about at school. I only knew about blindness because I became blind, so it is fabulous that I can be the 'blind TikTok teacher' and make all of this information so accessible. It truly is a privilege that I can be someone's daily reminder that they can overcome anything and reach their dreams."
Lucy's message for other people who are blind is this: "You are blind, not broken. There are going to be bad blind days, but, I promise you, it is going to be OK. Look on the bright side — even if you can't see the sun. It is about looking at what we can do, not what we can't. And, to anyone out there reading this without a disability, you can acquire a disability at any point — just because someone is disabled doesn't mean they lose who they are. Don't just look at a person's impairment, look at the whole person. Being different is something to celebrate, and we should all be proud of who we are. I found true acceptance when I came out as blind to myself, accepted who I was, and became unapologetically Lucy."
A special thanks to Lucy, who is such an inspiration and has graciously given us a behind-the-scenes look at her life — even how she picks up her dog's poop! 😂💩