Blind in one eye, Miss England finalist dreams of inspiring people with disabilities; see photos

Beauty contests have been taking place around the world for decades and, for a long time, the ideal of beauty was reinforced as a unique model to be achieved. This year, however, Miss England has shown greater concern with diversity: among the finalists in the competition, which ends on the 17th, is India Fenwick, 21, who is blind in one eye.

The young woman was born with a rare condition called microphthalmia, which caused her to lose sight in her left eye. Since entering the contest, she has made it clear that she seeks to share her story to inspire other young people with similar conditions.

— At ten weeks pregnant, my mother caught a dangerous infection in a restaurant. Called toxoplasmosis, the main symptom was a bad cold. But unbeknownst to her, the disease was transmitted to me, attacking the optic nerve and affecting the development and growth of my eye,” India said.

When she was born, doctors confirmed that the girl had an extremely rare condition and that, in her case, it only affected one eye. With a damaged optic nerve, coloboma (poor formation of the ocular structure) and with a globe 25% smaller than the right eye, she points out that this type of case affects only one in 10,000 people.

— There is not much information for parents and children who have been affected by this condition. My parents were told by a doctor that nothing could be done and that the left side of my face would be deformed. They were disturbed and with many unanswered questions.

India still believes that any kind of congenital malformation can be a challenge for both the family and the affected child. That’s why the young woman, who currently works as a realtor in the English country, says she wants to use her profile as a beauty pageant finalist to spread the message that “with lots of love, support and encouragement, everything will work out”.

“My parents and family always told me I was pretty just the way I was, and from an early age I adopted the mindset that if someone doesn’t like me for the way I look, then they’re not someone I would want to have in my life. life. I had a peaceful and happy childhood and my friends at school loved me too.

Disturbing and painful years

Despite having had a solid base of support and encouragement from the start, India recalls that her “happy bubble” quickly burst and took with her the confidence she had. That’s because, on the first day of high school, a boy yelled at her a comment about how “ugly” her eye was.

I ran home in tears and looked at myself for the first time in absolute horror and shock. Until that day I didn’t see anything wrong with me and I was happy. But the next four years were the most upsetting and painful for me. At school, I started to be tormented by a group of boys and the abuse was constant.

Because of this, India began to have a deep depression and could not see a way out. According to her, it didn’t take long for her to start getting hurt and feeling that the world would be better off if she didn’t exist. At the time, good relationships with her parents were crucial for her to be able to get the professional help she needed.

With the help of antidepressants, she decided to insert other forms of self-care into her routine, such as drawing and painting, as well as breathing techniques. For her, this was important in the process of “learning to love yourself again without the lens” – and, now, she seeks to reach other people who suffer from mental health problems and bullying for having some type of disability.

– Now that I have this incredible opportunity as a Miss England finalist, I look forward to being able to tell my story and inspire families and children affected by birth defects. We are all unique and we can achieve our dreams.

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