Valley Stream fashion show shines a light on the visually impaired

A visually impaired woman from Hempstead will host a fashion show on Saturday at Valley Stream featuring 16 models with similar conditions in an event designed to raise awareness of disability.

Annalee Smith, 41, who has been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, which can cause vision loss, said the show will raise money for the Fighting Blindness Foundation while showing “whatever your disability, though we walk in darkness, we can still light up every step we take in fashion, whatever your heart desires.

The fashion show will take place at VFW Post 1790 at 65 E. Merrick Rd. from 3-7 p.m. Admission will be $45 and tickets can be purchased at http://bit.ly/notmyeyes.

Organizing the event was her way of trying to change the fashion world, Smith said.

Originally from Barbados, Smith moved with her family to New York when she was 12 and went through the Hempstead School District. While at Long Island University in Brooklyn, Smith initially majored in nursing but switched to occupational therapy as her eyes deteriorated, she said.

A passion for fashion and modeling, Smith said, has always stayed with her. She applied to different modeling agencies and other opportunities, but got no response except one.

LaTeffaney Scott of Rockland County launched Kurvacious Boutique in 2020, which was created to bridge the gap between midsize plus-size fashion and high-end plus-size couture, according to her website. The company will provide clothing for the models.

Scott is hosting a model contest, now in its 10th year, in which the winner is the face of the company for the year. Smith won last year.

“I was talking with Anna and I said ‘you have a platform. No one suspects a young woman with visual impairment getting on a track,'” Scott said. do the fashion show.”

Kenya Brown, of Tacoma, Washington, will be one of the models in the fashion show.

Brown, who developed glaucoma shortly after birth causing her visual deterioration, said after finding out about the event via social media that she wanted to be part of the message.

“I think the general public doesn’t understand that people with disabilities have to work actively to be part of society,” said Brown, 34, who works as a chief financial officer. “Those of us who are able to motivate ourselves enough to do productive things or function well in society should be celebrated.”

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